Major-General Sahibzada Sayyid Iskander Ali Mirza, (November 13, 1899 – November 12, 1969) was the last Governor-General of the Dominion of Pakistan (6 October 1955 to 23 March 1956), and the first President of the Republic of Pakistan (23 March 1956 to 27 October 1958).
Iskander Ali Mirza was born at Murshidabad, Bengal on 13 November 1899, the eldest son of Sahibzada Sayyid Muhammad Fateh Ali Mirza (1875-1948) and his first wife, Dilshad Begum (1879-1925). Muhammad Fateh Ali Mirza was a prince of the ruling house of Murshidabad and grandson of Nawab Mansur Ali Khan, the last Nawab of Bengal. Mirza was a descendant of Mir Jafar. He was a Shi'a Muslim, as his emblem below displays the sign of the Zulfiqar, the sword of Ali (son-in-law of Prophet Muhammad ). He grew up in Bombay. After completing his early education at Elphinstone College, of the then-University of Bombay, he was later educated at the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst, becoming the first graduate from theIndian subcontinent at the academy, and was commissioned into the British Indian Army in 1920.
He was attached to the 2nd Btn., Cameronians 16 July 1920, and served in the Khodad Khel Operations 1921 and at Waziristan 1924. He was transferred to the 17th Poona Hse(Queen Victoria's Own) later that year, and joined the Indian Political Service in 1926. He was Assistant Commissioner at Abbottabad 1926-1928, Bannu 1928-1930, Nowshera 1930-1933, and Tonk 1933, a Deputy Commissioner at Hazara 1933-1936 & at Mardan 1936-1938. He was a Political Agent Khyber 1938-1940, Dep. Cmsnr. Peshawar & Political Agent to the Mohmands 1940, Political Agent Orissa States 1945-1946, Joint Defence Sec. India 1946-1947 and Defence Secretary. Mirza only served in the army for six years, after which he was the first Indian to be accepted in the elite Indian Political Service, eventually becoming a joint secretary in the Ministry of Defence of British India. In this position, he was responsible for dividing the British Indian Army into the future armies of Pakistan and India.
Upon the formation of Pakistan, Mirza -- at the time, the highest-ranking Muslim civil servant in the nation -- was made the Defence Secretary of the new nation. In 1954, he was made governor of East Pakistan to bring order to the politically distressed region. This position was followed by his being appointed Minister of Interior and Frontier Regions in Muhammad Ali Bogra's cabinet. In 1955, he became acting Governor-General, before becoming the last Governor-General of Pakistan.
Mirza was also a great advocate of the One Unit scheme, and believed in the separation of state and religion. When Mirza succeeded the ailing Malik Ghulam Muhammad as Governor-General, he was married to his second wife, Nahid Mirza, an Iranian lady who had previously been the wife of the Military Attaché of Iran in Pakistan.
In 1956, Pakistan established its first constitution, and the position of Governor-General was replaced by that of President. The two were essentially the same, but Mirza was officially elected as President by the Assembly. During his presidency, Pakistan was politically unstable, this was marked by four different prime ministers in two years.
Mirza lived in exile in London until his death. He died of a heart-attack in London on 12
November 1969, the day before his 70th birthday. After Yahya Khan's military government refused to allow him to be buried in his own country, his body was flown to Tehran where the Shah of Irangave him a State Funeral.