Sahibzada Iskander Ali Mirza was a Pakistani general and civil servant who was the first President of Pakistan. He was elected in this capacity in 1956 until being dismissed by his appointed army commander General Ayub Khan in 1958.
Mirza was educated at the University of Bombay before attending the military college in Sandhurst in the United Kingdom. After a brief military service in the British Indian Army, he joined the Indian Political Service and spent the majority of his career as a political agent in the Western region of the British India until elevated as joint secretary at the Ministry of Defence in 1946.
After the independence of Pakistan as result of the Partition of India, Mirza was appointed as first Defence Secretary by Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan, only to oversee the military efforts in first war with India in 1947, followed by failed secessionism in Balochistan in 1948.
In 1954, he was appointed as Governor of his home province of East Bengal by Prime Minister Mohammad Ali of Bogra to control the law and order sparked as a result of the popular language movement in 1952, but later elevated as Interior Minister in Bogra administration in 1955.
Playing a crucial role in ousting of Governor-General Sir Malik Ghulam, Mirza assumed his position in 1955 and was elected as the first President of Pakistan when the first set of Constitution was promulgated in 1956.
His presidency, however, marked with political instability which saw his unconstitutional interferences in the civilian administration that led to the dismissal of four prime ministers in a mere two years.
Facing challenges in getting the political endorsements and reelection for the presidency, Mirza surprisingly suspended the writ of the Constitution by having imposed martial law against his own party's administration governed by Prime Minister Feroze Khan on 8 October 1958, enforcing it through his army commander General Ayub Khan who dismissed him when the situation between them escalated, also in 1958.
Exiled in 1959, Mirza lived a remainder of his life in exile in London, England where he financially struggled running a small Pakistan cuisine hotel until his death. Mirza died of a heart attack on 13 November 1969 but President Yahya Khan denied him a burial in East Pakistan. The Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi sent his personal plane to London to bring President Mirza's body to Tehran, where he was given a state funeral. Hundreds of Iranians, including Prime Minister Abbas Hoveyda, and Pakistani expatriates in Iran bade farewell and offered their prayers and buried in Iran.
His legacy and image is viewed negatively by some Pakistani historians who believe that Mirza was responsible for weakening of democracy and political instability in the country.