Aziz Ahmed, (Urdu: عزیز احمد; born 24 June 1906 – died 1982), HPk, was a career Pakistani statesman and a diplomat during the Cold war, serving in the capacity as 12th Foreign Minister of Pakistan from 1973 until 1977. Prior to that, Ahmad served as the Pakistan Ambassador to the United States (1959–63) and eventually appointed as Foreign secretary (1960–67) by President Ayub Khan.
He initially gained national prominence when he served as the Foreign secretary under then-Foreign Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and opted for retirement in the opposition of Tashkent Agreement, signed by Ayub Khan to maintain and hold ceasefire with India in 1965. After the general elections in 1970 and the subsequent war with India in 1971, Ahmad was appointed as the Foreign minister of Pakistan until being terminated by President Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq after issuing criticism against the military coup d'état in 1977. Upon retirement from the Foreign Service, Ahmed lived a quiet life in Islamabad and died in 1982.
Aziz Ahmed was born in an Arain family of Tarn Taran district of Amritsar, British Indian Empire on 24 June 1906. Ahmed received his basic education at Amritsar and moved to Lahore for his further studies and permanently settled there. There, he attended the Government College in 1924, and graduated with a B.Sc. in Political science in 1928. He then proceeded to United Kingdom for higher studies, where with a scholarship offered and awarded by the British government, Ahmed subsequently studied at the University of Cambridge in 1929. In 1933, Aziz gained M.Sc. in Political science, followed by another M.Sc. in Foreign policy. Upon his return Ahmed passed the civil service exam and was commissioned into Indian Civil Service.
Aziz Ahmed was a senior member of the Indian Civil Service (ICS) and later Civil Service of Pakistan (CSP). In 1948, Ahmed served in East Bengal prior to independence in 1947 and was instrumental in getting the Debt Alleviation Act of 1938 passed into legislation. Aziz Ahmed subsequently held several senior positions in successive administrations in newly independent Pakistan. He was appointed as the first Chief Secretary of East-Pakistan at a time when General Muhammad Ayub Khan was the General Officer Commanding for East Pakistan. The two developed a close friendship and when Ayub Khan declared martial law and assumed full powers in 1958, Aziz Ahmed was made the highest ranking civil servant in his government as Secretary General, Cabinet Division and Deputy Martial Law Administrator.
Subsequently he was sent as Pakistan Ambassador to the United States in 1959 and was instrumental in developing the strong ties between the two countries, that characterised both the Eisenhower and the Kennedy administrations of the early sixties. He returned in 1963 to take up the post of Foreign Secretary at a time when Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was the Foreign Minister. He gained further prominence at the national level in Pakistan, following the 1965 war with India. He was opposed to the signing of the Tashkent Declaration by Ayub Khan as was Bhutto. He retired from government service in 1966 and was assigned to head the National Press Trust.
Ahmed initially gained public prominence with Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in 1965. On 4 September 1965, following the amid skirmishes, Ahmed received a warning from the Pakistan Embassy to Turkey, that Indian Army was preparing and planning an offence attack on West-Pakistan, therefore the government decided to launch the counter-attack.
Aziz and Bhutto played an important role in drafting the Gibraltar, and along with Bhutto, Aziz spurred on by pressing the Government to take advantage of the disturbed situation in the valley and direct the Army to send raiders into Indian held Kashmir for conducting guerrilla activities there and to help the locals organising a movement with a view to eventually starting an uprising against the occupying power. Throughout this war, Ahmed assisted Bhutto on numerous occasions on the war and initially gained Bhutto's confidence, soon the pair became good friends. During this war, Morrice James somehow convinced Ayub Khan to accept the cease-fire appeal from India, and that Pakistan may not be able fight with out weapons. At the UNSC, Aziz joined Bhutto where Bhutto famously announced that, "Pakistan will fight, fight for a thousand years". Soon Aziz received a message from Khan to announce Pakistan's willingness for ceasefire. Aziz and Bhutto disagreed with Khan's policy, though the pair did assist Khan in Tashkent to sign the Tashkent Agreement with India under the auspicious of Soviet Union. Soon after this agreement, Ahmed took the retirement from the Foreign Service and expressed a strong opposition against the government of Ayub Khan.
Soon after the East-Pakistan disaster, followed by the 1971 Winter war, Bhutto was hastily made President on 20 December 1971. After he was appointed President, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto summoned Aziz Ahmed out of retirement and appointed him Minister of State for Foreign Affairs. Subsequently, Aziz Ahmed was regarded as one of Bhutto's closest confidantes as Minister of State for Defence and Foreign Affairs and finally as Foreign Minister for a few months, before the government was toppled in the military coup of 1977. Aziz Ahmed assisted in negotiating the Simla Agreement between Pakistan and India in 1972 and in organising the Islamic Summit at Lahore in 1974, where he headed Pakistan's delegation. As Minister of Defence, he played a key role in re-building Pakistan's defence capability after the 1971 war with India as well as the development of the country's nuclear programme. Aziz convinced Richard Nixon to ensure the supply of weapons to Pakistan to counter the Indian hegemony.
Aziz worked with Bhutto building ties with China, and the Arab world and also helped Bhutto to negotiate with Soviet Union for economical assistance. His term as Foreign Minister cut short and was arrested by Military police after the successful commenced of Operation Fair Play in 1977. Aziz Ahmed remained a staunch opponent of martial law and the military government of General Zia-ul-Haq.
Aziz Ahmed died in Oct 1982 and was buried in Karachi. He was a recipient of Pakistan's highest civil award, Hilal-i-Pakistan (Crescent of Pakistan). On his death, he was survived by his wife Shereen Ahmed, two sons and two daughters.