Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq

Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq
Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq
Urdu:محمد ضياءالحق
General Zia-ul-Haq (on right), PA
6th President of Pakistan
In office
16 September 1978 – 17 August 1988
Prime Minister Muhammad Khan Juneijo
Preceded by Fazl Illahi Chaudhrie
Succeeded by Ghulam Ishaq Khan
4th Chief Martial Law Administrator
In office
9 June 1988 – 17 August 1988
Deputy Adm Mohammad Sharif
Lieutenant Gen Anwar Shamim
Succeeded by Post Abolished (until 1999)
In office
5 July 1977 – 16 September 1978
Preceded by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto
8th Chief of Army Staff
In office
1 March 1976 – 17 August 1988
Deputy General Mirza Aslam Beg
General Khalid Arief
General Savar Khan
Lieutenant Admiral Muhammad Scharif
General Iqbal Khan
General Rahimuddin Khan
General Akhtar A. Rahman
Preceded by General Tikka Khan
Succeeded by General Mirza Aslam Beg
Personal details
Born Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq
12 August 1924(1924-08-12)
Jalandhar, British Punjab, British Indian Empire (now republic of India)[1]
Died 17 August 1988(1988-08-17) (aged 64)
Bahawalpur, Punjab Province, Pakistan
Citizenship  Pakistan
Nationality Pakistani
Political party None (Military Presidency)
Spouse(s) Shafiq Jahan Zia-ul-Haq
Residence Generals Headquarter (GHQ), Rawalpindi
Alma mater United States Army Command and General Staff College
Occupation General officer
Military administrator
Cabinet General Zia Military Government
Religion Sunni Islam
Military service
Nickname(s) Tanker
Allegiance  Pakistan
Service/branch  Pakistan Army
Years of service 1943–1988
Rank 4 Star.svg General
Unit Guides Cavalry FF, Army Armoured Corps (PA – 1810)
Commands 2nd Independent Armoured Brigade, Jordan
1st Armoured Division, Multan
II Strike Corps, Multan
Chief of Army Staff
Battles/wars World War II
Indo-Pakistani War of 1965
Black September in Jordan
Operation Fair Play
Operation Cyclone
Soviet war in Afghanistan

General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq (Punjabi, Urdu:

محمد ضياءالحق) 

(12 August 1924 to 17 August 1988) was the 4th Chief Martial Law Administrator and the 6th President of Pakistan from July 1977 to his death in August 1988. Distinguished by his role in the Black September in Jordan military operation in 1970, he was appointed Chief of Army Staff in 1976 by Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto after Bhutto forcefully retired seven senior lieutenant-generals who where tainted with their role in the East-Pakistan war in order to bring and promote Zia to four star rank.[2] After widespread civil disorder, he planned and overthrew ruling Prime Minister Bhutto in a bloodless coup d'état on 5 July 1977 and became the state's third military ruler to impose martial law.[3] Zia's idea of religious conservative in Pakistan became the primary line of his military government.[4] Throughout the 1980s, Zia managed to consolidate more and more power in his hands, gradually putting down all opposition groups in Pakistan.[5]

He initially ruled as Chief Martial Law Administrator (CMLA), but later installed himself as the President of Pakistan in September 1978.[6] As both President and CMLA, Zia forcefully crushed the secular-communist and socialist democratic struggle led by the eldest daughter of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Benazir Bhutto. Zia abandoned the previous economical policies of Bhutto, and replaced them with capitalism and privatization of the major industries of Pakistan that had been nationalized by Bhutto in 1970s. The Pakistan economy became one the fastest growing economies in South Asia.[7] However, during this period of economic and social change, Zia curbed and violently dealt with the political rivals in 1980s.[8] His reign is often regarded as a period of mass military repression in which hundreds of thousands of political rivals, minorities, and journalist were executed or tortured, including Pakistan Army's senior general officers convicted in coup-d'état plots against his regime. [8]

Zia's major domestic initiatives included the consolidation of the nuclear development, which was initiated by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto; the restarting of the space program as spin-off of the nuclear project, denationalization and deregulation and the state's Islamization.[8] His tenure saw the disbanding of the Baloch insurgency. His endorsement of the Pakistan Muslim League (the founding party of Pakistan) initiated its mainstream revival.[2] However, he is most remembered for his foreign policy; the subsidizing of the Mujahideen movement during the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan which led to the Soviet-Russian withdrawal from Afghanistan Socialist Republic. Zia entered into an undeclared secret war with Soviet Afghanistan and its ally Soviet Union. Zia authorized secret funding and expansion of intelligence operations in Pakistan and abroad, initially focusing on anti-communist operations. He was described by some as a "fundamentalist Sunni dictator".[9]

Zia died along with several of his top generals and admirals and the then United States Ambassador to Pakistan Arnold Lewis Raphel in a suspicious air crash near Bahawalpur ([Punjab, Pakistan|Punjab]]) on 17 August 1988.


Early life

Zia was born in Jalandhar, British India,[10] in 1924 as the second child of Muhammad Akbar, who worked in the Army GHQ in Delhi and Simla pre-partition.

He completed his initial education in Simla and then attended St. Stephen's College, Delhi for his graduate degree. After graduation from St. Xavier College, Zia joined the British Indian Army in 1943.

He married Shafiq Jahan in 1950–51.[11]

Shafiq Zia died on 5 January 1996.[12] Zia is survived by his sons, Muhammad Ijaz-ul-Haq,[13] (born 1953), who went into politics and became a cabinet minister in the government of Nawaz Sharif, and Anwar-ul-Haq (born 1950)[14][15][16] and his daughters, Zian[17][18] (also Zain)[19] (born 1972),[20] a special needs child, and Rubina Salim, who is married to a Pakistani banker and has been living in the United States since 1980,[21][22] and daughter Quratulain Zia who currently lives in London, and is married to Pakistani doctor, Adnan Majid.[23]

Army career

Zia was commissioned in the British Indian Army in a cavalry regiment on 12 May 1943 and served against Nazi Germany and its allies in World War II. After Pakistan gained its independence, Zia joined the newly formed Pakistan Army as a Major. His regiment was now the Guides Cavalry Frontier Force Regiment. He was trained in the United States in 1962–1964 at the US Army Command and General Staff College Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. After that, he returned to take over as Directing Staff (DS) at Command and Staff College, Quetta.[24] During the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, Zia was a tank commander.[25]

Zia was stationed in Jordan from 1967 to 1970 as a Brigadier, helping in the training of Jordanian soldiers, as well as leading the training mission into battle during the Black September operations as commander of Jordanian 2nd Division, a strategy that proved crucial to King Hussein's remaining in power. By 1973, then Major General Zia was commanding the 1st Armoured Division at Multan.[24]

He was then promoted as Lieutenant General and was appointed commander of the II Strike Corps at Multan in 1975. It was during this time that Zia invited Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto as the Colonel-in-Chief of the Armoured Corps at Multan, using his tailor to stitch the Blue Patrols of his size. The next day, Bhutto was requested to climb a tank and engage a target, where the target was quite obviously hit. After the function, Zia met Bhutto, placed his hand on the Qur'an and said, "You are the saviour of Pakistan and we owe it to you to be totally loyal to you".[2]

On 1 March 1976, Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto approved then-1 star general Brigadier-General Zia as Chief of Army Staff and to be elevated to 4 star rank.[26] This promotion was ahead of a number of more senior officers.[27] At the time of his nominating the successor to the outgoing Chief of Army Staff General Tikka Khan, the Lieutenant Generals in order of seniority were, Muhammad Shariff, Muhammed Akbar Khan, Aftab Ahmed Khan, Azmat Baksh Awan, Agha Ibrahim Akram, Abdul Majeed Malik, Ghulam Jilani Khan, and Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq. But, Bhutto chose the most junior, superseding seven more senior lieutenant-generals.[28] However, the senior most at that time, Lieutenant-General Mohammad Shariff, though promoted to General, was made the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, a constitutional post akin to President Fazal Ilahi Chaudhry.[29] Zia never called Bhutto as "Mr. Prime Minister", but relied on the term Sir while referring to Bhutto.[27]

Planning of Coup

Prime Minister Bhutto began facing considerable criticism and increasing unpopularity as his term progressed.[3] Initially targeting leader of the opposition Khan Abdul Wali Khan and his opposition National Awami Party (NAP). Despite the ideological similarity of the two parties, the clash of egos both inside and outside the National Assembly became increasingly fierce, starting with the Federal governments decision to oust the NAP provincial government in Balochistan for alleged secessionist activities[30] and culminating in the banning of the party and arrest of much of its leadership after the death of a close lieutenant of Bhutto's, Hayat Sherpao, in a bomb blast in the frontier town of Peshawar.

Civil disorders against Bhutto

Dissidence also increased within the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), and the murder of a leading dissident Ahmed Raza Kasuri's father led to public outrage and intra-party hostility as Bhutto was accused of masterminding the crime. Powerful PPP leaders such as Ghulam Mustafa Khar openly condemned Bhutto and called for protests against his regime. The political crisis in the NWFP (now Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) and Balochistan intensified as civil liberties remained suspended, and an estimated 100,000 troops deployed there were accused of abusing human rights and killing large numbers of civilians.[31]

1977 Parliamentary elections

On 8 January 1977 a large number of opposition political parties grouped to form the Pakistan National Alliance[31] (PNA). Bhutto called fresh elections, and PNA participated fully in those elections. They managed to contest the elections jointly even though there were grave splits on opinions and views within the party. The PNA faced defeat but did not accept the results, alleging that the election was rigged. They proceeded to boycott the provincial elections. Despite this, there was a high voter turnout in the national elections; however, as provincial elections were held amidst low voter turnout and an opposition boycott, the PNA declared the newly-elected Bhutto government as illegitimate.

Staged a Coup d'état

All the opposition leaders called for the overthrow of Bhutto's regime.[3] Political and civil disorder intensified, which led to more unrest.[32] Bhutto imposed martial law in major cities including Karachi, Lahore and Hyderabad. However, a compromise agreement between Bhutto and opposition was ultimately reported.[27] This compromise theory was however probably a later day addition as a major PPP armed rally was in the offing.[27] Zia planned a the Coup d'état carefully as he knew Bhutto had integral intelligence in the Pakistan Armed Forces, and many officers, including Chief of Air Staff General Zulfiqar Ali Khan and Major-General Tajammul Hussain Malik, GOC of 23rd Mountain Division, Major-General Naseerullah Babar, DG of Directorate-General for the Military Intelligence (DGMO) and Vice-Admiral Syed Mohammad Ahsan, were loyal to Bhutto.[27]

To remove this intelligence, Zia secretly contracted with the active duty British SAS army officers to maintain a staff course for the Army personnel while Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Mohammad Shariff quietly removed naval personnel loyal to Bhutto and his government from the Navy's active duty.[27] Zia ordered Bhutto's loyal officers to attend a staff and command course and none of the officers were allowed to leave the course until the midnight.[27] Meanwhile, Zia with his close officers, including Admiral Mohammad Shariff, then-Chaiman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, arranged the coup in the evening.[27] On 5 July 1977, before the announcement of any agreement, Bhutto and members of his cabinet were arrested by troops of Military Police under the order of Zia by the evening.[31]

CIA Role

Many political analysts and scientists widely suspected that the riots and coup against Bhutto was orchestrated with help of Central Intelligence Agency and the United States Government because United States was afraid of Bhutto's socialist policies which were seen as sympathetic to the Soviet Union and had built a bridge that allowed Soviet Union to involved in Pakistan.[33] A former U.S. attorney general and Human rights activist, Ramsey Clark, quoted that:

"I [Ramsey Clark] do not believe in conspiracy theories in general, but the similarities in the staging of riots in Chile (where the CIA allegedly helped overthrow President Salvadore Allande) and in Pakistan are just too close, Bhutto was removed from power in Pakistan by force on 5 July, after the usual party on the 4th at the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, with U.S. approval, if not more, by General Zia-ul-Haq.[33] Bhutto was falsely accused and brutalized for months during proceedings that corrupted the Judiciary of Pakistan before being murdered, then hanged. As Americans, we must ask ourselves this: Is it possible that a rational military leader under the circumstances in Pakistan could have overthrown a constitutional government, without at least the tacit approval of the United States?".[33]

Postponement of elections and call for accountability

After assuming power as Chief Martial Law Administrator, Zia promised to hold National and Provincial Assembly elections in the next 90 days[citation needed] and to hand over power to the representatives of the nation[citation needed]. He also stated that the Constitution of Pakistan had not been abrogated, but temporarily suspended[citation needed]. However, in October 1977, he announced the postponement of the electoral plan and decided to start an accountability process for the politicians. Zia said that he changed his decision due to the strong public demand for the scrutiny of political leaders who had engaged in malpractice in the past but there is no evidence to this claim. Thus the "retribution first, elections later" PNA policy was adopted. This severely tainted his credibility as many saw the broken promise as malacious.[citation needed]. It is widely believed that once out of power the size of PPP rallies swell and a better performance in elections was possible. This led to request for postponement of elections by the right wing which displaced Bhutto in the first place.

A Disqualification Tribunal was formed, and several individuals who had been Members of Parliament were charged with malpractice and disqualified from participating in politics at any level for the next seven years. A white paper document was issued, incriminating the deposed Bhutto government on several counts[citation needed].

It is reported by senior officers that when Gen. Zia met federal secretaries for the first time as leader of the country after martial law, he said that "He does not possess the Charisma of Bhutto, personality of Gen. Ayub or the legitimacy of Liaquat Ali Khan" thereby implying how can he be marketed.[citation needed]

Reign as Chief Martial Law Administrator

The Doctrine of Necessity

Nusrat Bhutto, the wife of the deposed Prime Minister, filed a suit against Zia's military regime, challenging the validity of the July 1977 military coup. The Supreme Court of Pakistan ruled, in what would later be known as the Doctrine of Necessity (not to be confused with the 1954 Doctrine of necessity) that, given the dangerously unstable political situation of the time, Zia's overthrowing of the Bhutto government was legal on the grounds of necessity. The judgement tightened the general's hold on the government. When Bhutto appeared personally to argue his appeal in the supreme court, he almost affirmed his concurrence with the judges present for not letting off a judgement without imposing some conditions on ruling military government.

Assumption of the post of President of Pakistan

Despite the dismissal of most of the Bhutto government, President Fazal Ilahi Chaudhry was persuaded to continue in office as a figurehead.[34] After completing his term, and despite Zia's insistence to accept an extension as President, Mr Chaudhry resigned, and Zia took the office of President of Pakistan on 16 September 1978. Thus his position was cemented as the undisputed ruler of the country. Over the next six years, Zia issued several decrees which amended the constitution and greatly expanded his power. Most significantly, the Revival of Constitution of 1973 Order granted Zia the power to dissolve the National Assembly virtually at will.

Soon the martial law was imposed, Zia called for a meeting of senior statesmen and officers of Pakistan Armed Forces.[34] On his first day of meeting which was called at an early morning, statesmen and officers were shocked when looking at him and described Zia as lacked of intelligence, and had possessed no "personality charisma" as compared to Bhutto and had "no intellectual property" that would gravitate people towards him like Bhutto, who would attract people's attention by his intellectual, physical appearance, and Bhutto's Westernized dressing.[34] Unlike Bhutto who would appeared in decent Westernized clothing and always had joy in his face while meeting the journalists, state officials and members of society; General Zia would appeared in a well ironed military uniform which he wore on a regular basis, military badges that was conferred to him during his long service, and a strict face posture while giving interviews.[34] General Zia rarely smiled and, often seeing saluting at the people while attending the public or political functions.[34] Comparing Bhutto to Zia, Bhutto always chaired meetings with good mood, no matter how serious the situation was, and often seen cared about family matters of others, while serious decision would also be made.[34] With Zia, meetings were often short but intense and decisions would he made in matter of minutes, although Zia was a good listener.[34] Nonetheless, Zia's image was perfected as "tyrant, cold person" and was best suited as an "ideal military dictator", often perpetrated in Western movies.[34] Roedad Khan's book "Pakistan- A Dream Went Sour", Roedad Khan, who served as Secretary-General for the Internal Security summed up that:

(Zia).. wanted to become an Amir, a ridicule concept which died centuries ago. 'If he (Zia) had his way, (Zia) would have taken [Pakistan] back to the Middle Ages.... [Zia] had no idea of law or [constitution] or the requirements of a [modern] governments'.
—Roedad Khan— Secretary of Internal Security, 1978-1988[34]

The trial of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto

In the words of Aftab Kazie and Roedad Khan, Zia hated Bhutto and had used inappropriate language and insults to describe Bhutto and his colleagues.[35][36][37] On 4 April 1979, the former elected Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was hanged, after the Supreme Court upheld the death sentence as passed by the Lahore High Court.[38] The Supreme Court ruled four to three in favor of execution. The High Court had given him the death sentence on charges of the murder of the father of Ahmed Raza Kasuri, a dissident PPP politician.[38] Despite many clemency appeals from foreign leaders requesting Zia to commute Bhutto's death sentence, Zia dismissed the appeals and upheld the death sentence.[38] The hanging of an elected prime minister by a military man was condemned by the international community and by lawyers and jurists across Pakistan.[38]

Bhutto's last personal appearance and utterances in the supreme court were not merely a long defence of his conduct he also made some matters clear.[27] He mentioned the words of "heir" for his son "Mir Murtaza Bhutto".[27] He made some remark which indicated that he has views similar to a Sunni, though he was Shia albeit a non-practicing one. He also effectively cast doubt on the reliability of star witnesses against him i.e. Masood Mahmood who was a UK-trained lawyer and not merely a police officer and FSF chief. He mentioned repeatedly Lahori Ahmedi connection of Masood Mahmood in his testimony.[27] He repeatedly brought the subject of his maltreatment in the death cell.[27] Bhutto made it abundantly clear, even though indirectly that he wanted either freedom or death, not some thing in between, and appreciated Khar and his lawyer Yahya Bakhtiar.[27]

Bhutto's another lawyer Abdul Hafiz Pirzada filed a petition for the release of Bhutto's colleague Mubashir Hassan and Bhutto itself.[27] The Supreme Court concluded that Bhutto's execution can be revered by the President, and Hassan's case is being deal by Military Justice Court led by Zia; therefore, the civilian courts have no jurisdiction over that hearing.[27] Pirzada submitted the request to Chief of Army Staff Directorate, but Zia claimed that the request application had been gone missing.[27] Therefore, Zia upheld the sentence and Bhutto was executed. Shattered and disturbed Pirzada departed to United Kingdom and did not returned to Pakistan until the democracy was returned in 1988.[27] It was not until 2000, when the Pakistan media published its report that the application was found in the record section (Directorate-General for the Military History) at the Generals Combatant Headquarter (GHQ).[27] The application was made public domain when General Pervez Musharraf declassified much of the 1970s secret documentations.

Appointment of Martial Law Governors

The Zia regime largely made use of installing high-profile military generals to carte blanche provincial administration under martial law. Zia's Guides Cavalry comrade and foul-mouth Lieutenant-General Fazhle Haque was appointed Martial Law Administrator of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province.[39] Lieutenant-General Fazle Haque was considered a strong vocal General and a strong man. General Haque was the commander of the XI Corps, and commanding-general officer of the Army elements responsible for fighting a secret war against Soviet Union.[39]

The second appointment was of Lieutenant-General S.M. Abbasi who was appointed Martial Law Administrator of Sindh Province; his tenure too saw civil disorder amid student riots.[39]By contrast, third martial law administrator appointment of Lieutenant-General Ghulam Jilani Khan to the Punjab Province made much headway in beautifying Lahore[39] extending infrastructure, and muting political opposition.[39] The ascent of Navaz Sharif to Chief Minister of Punjab was largely due to General Jilani's sponsorship.[40] Perhaps most crucially, final and fourth martial law administrator appointment was then-Lieutenant-General Rahimuddin Khan.[39] Lieutenant-General Rahimuddin Khan was appointed to the post of Martial Law Administrator of Balochistan Province saw the disbanding of the Baloch insurgency, the containment of Afghan Mujahideen, as well as the construction of nuclear test sites in the Chagai District.[39]

Zia's tenure saw the influx of heroin[39], sophisticated weaponry, and countless refugees in from neighbouring Afghanistan.[39] Law and order deterioration was worse after he appointed Mr. Junejo as Prime minister in 1985.[39]

Reign as President of Pakistan

Formation of Majlis-e-Shoora

In the absence of a parliament, Zia decided to set up an alternative system, Majlis-e-Shoora, in 1980. Most of the members of the Shoora were intellectuals, scholars, ulema, journalists, economists, and professionals in different fields. The Shoora was to act as a board of advisors to the President. All 284 members of the Shoora were to be nominated by the President, also known as a technocracy or government of technocrats.

Amongst technocrats included in Zia's cabinet was Dr. Asad who increased the oil production of the country manyfold. Many members of this Shoora later joined other parties after his death.

Referendum of 1984

Zia eventually decided to hold elections in the country. But before handing over the power to the public representatives, he decided to secure his position as the head of state. A referendum was held on 19 December 1984 and the option was to elect or reject the General as the future President. The question asked in the referendum was whether the people of Pakistan wanted Islamic Sharia law enforced in the country[citation needed]. According to the official result, more than 95% of the votes were cast in favour of Zia, thus he was elected as President for the next five years. However, they were marred by allegations of widespread irregularities and technical violations of the laws and ethics of democratic elections[citation needed]. Also, despite pressure from the government to vote, only 10% of those eligible to vote did so[citation needed]. Zia had the overwhelming majority of the votes cast, but in reality the referendum was an embarrassing failure.[41]

The Eighth Amendment and elections of 1985

After being elected President, Zia decided to hold elections in the country in February 1985 on a non-party basis. [5] Most of the opposing political parties decided to boycott the elections but election results showed that many victors belonged to one party or the other. To make things easier for himself, the General nominated the Prime Minister from amongst the Members of the Assembly. To many, his nomination of Muhammad Khan Junejo as the Prime Minister was because he wanted a simple person at the post who would act as a puppet in his hands. [5]Before handing over the power to the new Government and lifting martial law, Zia got the new legislature to retroactively accept all of Zia's actions of the past eight years, including his coup of 1977[citation needed]. He also managed to get several amendments passed, most notably the Eighth Amendment, which granted "reserve powers" to the president to dissolve the National Assembly. [5] However, this amendment considerably reduced the power he'd previously granted himself to dissolve the legislature, at least on paper. [5] The text of the amendment permitted Zia to dissolve the Assembly only if the Cabinet had been toppled by a vote of no confidence and it was obvious that no one could form a government or the government could not function in a constitutional manner [5].

Involvement in the Soviet-Afghan War

The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan

On 25 December 1979, the Soviet Union (USSR) intervened Soviet Afghanistan.[42] Following this invasion, Zia chaired a meeting and was asked by several cabinet members to refrain from interfering in the war, owing to the vastly superior military power of the USSR.[42] Zia, however, was ideologically opposed to the idea of communism taking over a neighboring country, supported by the fear of Soviet advancement into Pakistan, particularly Balochistan, in search of warm waters, and made no secret about his intentions of monetarily and militarily aiding the Afghan resistance (the Mujahideen) with major assistance from the United States.[42]

During this meeting, Director-General of the ISI then-Lieutenant-General Akhtar Abdur Rahman advocated for the idea of covert operation in Afghanistan by arming the Islamic extremist.[42] During this meeting, General Rahman was heard saying: "Kabul must burn! Kabul must burn!"[42], and mastered the idea of proxy war in Afghanistan.[42] After this meeting, Zia authorized this operation under General Rahman, and it was later merged with Operation Cyclone, a programme funded by the United States and the CIA.[42]

In November 1982, General Zia traveled to the Soviet Union to attend the funeral of Leonid Brezhnev, then-General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.[27] Soviet President Andrei Gromyko and the new Secretary-General Yuri Andropov met with Zia where a brief meeting took place at the Kremlin.[27] The Soviet Union and the new Secretary General Yuri Andropov were angry at Pakistan's covert involvement in the support of Afghan resistance against the Soviet Union and her satellite state, Soviet Afghanistan, and expressed his indignation to the General.[27] Then General Zia took his hand and told him that, "Mr. Secretary General... Believe me, Pakistan wants nothing but good and healthy relations with the Soviet Union".[27] According to Andrei Gromyko, Zia's sincerity had caught off guards and in the meeting, everyone believed him but sadly found out that his words were not followed by his actions.[27]

While there, Indira Gandhi compared the personality of Zia to Bhutto's while she summed up that Bhutto was intelligent, caring, and global experience that would reflect in his face.[27] But with Zia, the tyranny could easily been seen on his face.[27]

Economic reform

Under Zia, the previous ruler Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto's nationalisation policies were slowly reversed[citation needed], and gradual privatisation took place[citation needed]. Zia greatly favoured egalitarianism and industrialisation. Between 1977 and 1986, the country experienced an average annual growth in the GNP of 6.8%, one of the highest in the world at that time.

Consolidation of nuclear programme

One of the earliest initiative took by General Zia in 1977, was to militarized the integrated atomic energy programme which was founded by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in 1972.[43] During the first stages, the programme was under the control of Bhutto and the Directorate for Science, under Science Advisor Dr. Mubashir Hassan, was heading the civilian committee that supervised the construction of the facilities and laboratories.[43] Major-General Zahid Ali Akbar, engineering officer, had little role in the atomic project; General Zia responded by taking over the programme under the military control and disbanded the civilian directorate when he ordered the arrest of dr. Mubashir Hassan.[43] This whole giant nuclear energy project was transferred into the hands of Major-General Akbar who was soon made the Lieutenant-General and Engineer-in-Chief of Corps of Engineers.[43] General Akbar proved to be an extremely capable officer in the matters of science and technology when he aggressively led the development of nuclear weapons under Munir Ahmad Khan and Abdul Qadeer Khan in matters of five years.[43]

By the time, Zia assumed the control, research facilities fully became functional and the work on nuclear weapons was completed 90%.[43] Both the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) and the Khan Research Laboratories (KRL) had ingeniously built the extensive research infrastructure initiated by Bhutto.[43] General Akbar's office was soon shifted at the Army Combatant Generals Headquarter (GHQ) and guided General Zia on key matters of nuclear science and the atomic bomb production, and was the first engineering officer to have acknowledge General Zia about the success of this energy project into the fully matured programme.[43]

This was proved when the PAEC conducted the cold-fission test of a fission device, codename Kirana-I on 11 March 1983 at the Kirana Hills, under the leadership of weapon-testing laboratory's director dr. Ishfaq Ahmad.[43] Lieutenant-General Zahid Akbar went to GHQ and notified General Zia about the success of the this test. The PAEC responded by conducting severa cold-tests throughout the 1980s, a policy also continued by Benazir Bhutto in 1990s.[43]

Nuclear diplomacy

Unlike Bhutto who faced rogue criticism and faced a heated diplomatic war with the United States throughout the 1970s, General Zia took different diplomatic approaches to counter the international pressure.[43] From 1979 to 1983, the country was made a subject of attack by international organization for not signing the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT); General Zia deftly neutralized international pressure by tagging Pakistan's nuclear weapons programme to the nuclear designs of neighboring Indian nuclear programme.[43] General Zia, with the help of Munir Ahmad Khan and Agha Shahi, Foreign Minister, drew a five-point proposal as a practical rejoinder to world pressure on Pakistan to sign the NPT; the points including the renouncing of the use of nuclear weapons.[44]

Following the success of Operation Opera— an Israeli Air Force strike to sabotage the Iraqi nuclear programme in 1981— amid suspicion grew in Pakistan that Indian Air Force had similar plans for Pakistan.[45] In private meeting with General Anvär Schamiem, then-Chief of Air Staff, General Zia had notified General Schamiem that Indian Air Force had plans to infiltrate in Pakistan's nuclear energy project, citing the solid evidences.[45] Due to weak Air Force, General Shamim felt that the air force was unable to divert such attacks, therefore, General Shamim advised General Zia to use diplomacy through Munir Ahmad Khan to divert the attacks.[45] At Vienna, Munir Ahmad Khan met with Raja Ramanna notified his counter-part that such attack would provoked a nuclear war between two countries.[46] In meantime, General Shamim decided to start the program to acquire the advanced F-16 Falcons and A-5 Fanton jets for Pakistan Air Force.[45] General Shamim launched the Operation Sentinel- a counter operation that thwarted the Israeli Air Force attempt to sabotage Pakistan's nuclear energy project— forced Indian Premier Indira Gandhi to held talks with Pakistan on nuclear issues and directed a high delegation to Pakistan where both countries pledged not to assist or attack each others facilities.[45] In 1985, following the induction of F-16 Falcons and A-5 Fantons, General Shamim commissioned the Air Force Strategic Command to protect and battle the weapons of mass destruction.[45]

Nuclear proliferation

Soon after the coup, the clandestine nuclear energy project was no longer a secret to the outside world.[43] Part of his strategy was to promotion of nuclear proliferation in anti-western states (such as North Korea, Iran, and communist China) to aid in their own nuclear ambition, in order to divert the international attention which was difficult.[43] In 1981, General Zia contracted with China when he sent the sensitive weapon-grade uranium to China and also built the centrifuge laboratory which increasingly enchanced the Chinese nuclear programme.[43] This act encouraged dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan who allegedly tried to aidin Libyan nuclear program but because the ties were strained Khan was warned of serious consequences.[43] This policy was envisaged that this would deflect international pressure on these countries and Pakistan would be spared the international community's wrath.[47]

After General Zia's death, his successor General Mirza Aslam Beg, as Chief of Army Staff, encouraged Khan and gave him a free hand to work with some like minded nations like North Korea, Iran and Libya who also wanted to pursue their nuclear ambitions for a variety of reasons. In 2004, dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan's dismissal from the nuclear weapons programme was considered a face saving exercise by the Pakistan Armed Forces and political establishment under the then Chief of Army Staff and President General Pervez Musharraf.[48] Zia's nuclear proliferation policy had deep impact on the world, especially anti-western state. North Korea soon followed the same suit in 2000s after it was targeted by international community for its on-going nuclear program. North Korea attempted to aid in Syrian and Iranian nuclear program in 2000..[43] The North Korean connection to Syrian nuclear program was exposed in 2007 by Israel in its strategic successful operation, Operation Orchard which resulted in sabotaging the nuclear programme as well as death of 10 senior North-Korean scientists.


Even though General Zia had removed the Bhutto sentiment in the nuclear energy project, General Zia did not completely disbanded Bhutto's policy on nuclear weapons.[43] After the retirement of General Akbar, General Zia transferred the control of the nuclear weapons program to Bhutto's close aide Munir Ahmad Khan, Chairman of Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission.[43] Soon, General Zia promoted Khan as the technical director of the entire programme as well as returned to post of Science Adviser by appointing Munir Ahmad Khan as his adviser.[43] With the support of handpicked civilian Prime minister Muhammad Juneijo, General Zia sanctioned the launch of the 50MW heavy water plutonium production reactor, known as Khushab-I, at Khushab in 1985.[43] General Zia also took initiatives to launched the space projects as spin-off to nuclear project.[43] Zia appointed nuclear engineer Salim Mehmud as the Administrator of the Space Research Commission.[49] Zia also launched the work on country's first satellite, Badr-1, a military satellite.[49] In 1987, General Zia launched the clandestine aerospace project, Integrated Missile Research Programme General Anwar Shamim in 1985 and later under Lieutenant-General Talat Masood in 1987.[50]

International standing enhancement and resumption of aid

Zia's international standing greatly rose after his declaration to fight the Soviet invaders. Pakistan – United States relations took a much more positive turn. U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his Secretary of State, Cyrus Vance, cut off U.S. aid to Pakistan on the grounds that Pakistan had not made sufficient progress on the nuclear issue. Then, on 25 December 1979, the Soviets invaded Afghanistan, and Carter offered Pakistan $325 million in aid over three years. Zia rejected this as "peanuts."[51] Carter also signed the finding in 1980 that allowed less than $50 million a year to go to the Mujahideen. After Ronald Reagan came to office, defeating Carter for the US Presidency in 1980, all this changed, due to President Reagan's new priorities and the unlikely and remarkably effective effort by Congressman Charles Wilson (D-TX), aided by Joanne Herring, and CIA Afghan Desk Chief Gust Avrakotos to increase the funding for Operation Cyclone. Aid to the Afghan resistance, and to Pakistan, increased substantially, finally reaching $1 billion. The United States, faced with a rival superpower looking as if it were to create another Communist bloc, now engaged Zia to fight a US-aided war by proxy in Afghanistan against the Soviets.

Fighting the war by proxy

Zia now found himself in a position to demand billions of dollars in aid for the Mujahideen from the Western states, famously dismissing a United States proposed $325 million aid package as "peanuts". Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence and Special Service Group now became actively involved in the conflict, and in cooperation with the Central Intelligence Agency and the United States Army Special Forces supported the armed struggle against the Soviets.

In 1981, Ronald Reagan succeeded Jimmy Carter as President of the United States. Reagan was completely against the Soviet Union and its Communist satellites, dubbing it "the evil empire". Reagan now increased financial aid heading for Pakistan. In 1981, the Reagan Administration sent the first of 40 F-16 jet fighters to the Pakistanis. But the Soviets kept control of the Afghan skies until the Mujahideen received Stinger missiles in 1986. From that moment on, the Mujahideen's strategic position steadily improved.

The Soviets declared a policy of national reconciliation. In January they announced that a Soviet withdrawal was no longer linked to the makeup of the Afghan government remaining behind. Pakistan, with the massive extra-governmental and covert backing from the largest operation ever mounted by the CIA and financial support of Saudi Arabia, therefore, played a large part in the eventual withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan in 1988.

The war legacy

The war left deep scars to the Pakistan's society with the menace of Kalashnikov (AK-47 assault rifle) culture spreading all over the country.[52] It is estimated that there are currently 20 million firearms in Pakistan, which has a population of about 175 million (as of July 2010) i.e., almost every ninth person has a firearm, most likely an automatic one.[53] The rise of the illicit drug trade and its spread through Pakistan to the rest of the world increased tremendously during the Soviet-Afghan war. Afghanistan's drug industry began to take off after the Soviet invasion in 1979. Desperate for cash with which to buy weapons, various elements in the anti-Communist resistance turned to the drug trade. This was tolerated if not condoned by their American sponsors such as the CIA.[54]

It was thought by some leading ISI officials then assisting Mujaheedin led war that converting raw opium to heroin is a technology which was not known to illiterate Afghans and was taught by CIA or some others with advanced technology as later was easy to smuggle and earn cash for resistance.

Two Afghan Mujahideen groups later morphed into Jihadist outfits in the shape of Taliban and Al-Qaeda in the early 1990s. The Pakistan and United States trained Arab and Afghan fighters later in 2001 initiated a Jihad against United States in 2001 and against Pakistan in 2004. The links of the spectacular and deadly events of 11 September were deeply rooted in the Soviet-Afghan war. Osama bin Laden invested his inherited money into the Soviet-Afghan war to fight the 'infidel communist power' and was abetted by CIA, ISI, US and Pakistani military establishments for over 10 years.[55] For its turn in Pakistan, the war in West Pakistan, hampered the Pakistan's economy, dismantle the civil society, and as well as resulted 3,000 deaths for Pakistan's Armed Forces. General Zia's morphed Jihadist furthered destabilized the country's strong branches, and country faced a wave of suicide bombing from the period 2007 to 2011, resulting in more than 30,000 civilian deaths in Pakistan.

'Islamisation' of Pakistan

On 2 December 1978, on the occasion of the first day of the Hijra to enforce the Islamic system in Pakistan in a nationwide address, Zia accused politicians of exploiting the name of Islam: "Many a ruler did what they pleased in the name of Islam."[4] After assuming power, the government began a program of public commitment to enforce Nizam-e-Mustafa (Islamic System), a significant turn from Pakistan's predominantly Anglo-Saxon law, inherited from the British. As a preliminary measure to establish an Islamic society in Pakistan, Zia announced the establishment of Sharia Benches.[4] To many secular and communist forces, Zia cynically manipulated Islam for the survival of his own regime.[4] In 1983, Nusrat Bhutto reasoned General Zia's policies as she puts it:

The (scream) and the horrors of 1971 war..... are (still) alive and vivid in the hearts and the minds of people of [Pakistan]...Therefore, General Zia insanely.... used the "Islam [Card]".... to ensure the survival of his own regime....
—Nusrat Bhutto, former First Lady of Pakistan, [4]

Islamic Ordinances

The hybridization of Pakistan penal code with Islamic laws was not an easy work.[8] Two very different logics lay underneath both.[8] PPC was kingly law, Haddood is a religious and community-based law. Under the Offenses Against Property (Hudood Ordinance) Ordinance 1979, the punishment of imprisonment or fine, or both, as provided in the existing Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) for theft, was substituted by the amputation of the right hand of the offender from the joint of the wrist by a surgeon.[8] For robbery, the right hand of the offender from the wrist and his left foot from the ankle should be amputated by a surgeon. Hudood (حدود, also transliterated Hadud, Hudud; plural for Hadh, حد, limit, or restriction) is the word often used in Islamic social and legal literature for the bounds of acceptable behaviour. Although the punishments were imposed, the due process, witnesses and prosecution system remained un-Islamic Anglo-Saxon.[8] As in Islamic law Hudud can only be given if four witnesses saw the crime happen, in reality hardly anyone can be punished by Islamic Hud laws as very rarely can the conditions for punishment be met.[8]

Under the Zina Ordinance, the provisions relating to adultery were replaced so that the women and the man guilty will be flogged, each of them, with one hundred lashes, if unmarried.[8] And if they are married they shall be stoned to death provided the proof required for hadd is met.[8] That is four Muslim adult male witnesses of good repute to the act of penetration or a voluntary confession in a competent court of law.[8] The Zina Ordinance is fraught with legal ambiguities and the major flaw in this law is the fact that no distinction is made between adultery and rape. Rape is considered no more heinous a crime than zina.[8] The demarcation line between the two offences is so thin in practice, that when a woman comes into the court with a case of rape, she risks being convicted of zina herself, if she cannot prove the rape.[8] The onus of providing proof in a rape case rests with the woman herself.[8] If she is unable to prove her allegation, bringing the case to court is considered equivalent to a confession of sexual intercourse without lawful marriage.[8] Thus this ordinance has been criticized by human rights and women's rights activists, lawyers and politicians over the years, but so far no attempt at repeal has been successful.[56]

Sharia laws

In legal terms, (Islamic law being usually referred to as Sharia, شريعة) the term is used to describe laws that define a certain level of crime classification.[8] Crimes classified under Hudud were the most severe of crimes, such as murder, theft, and adultery.[8] There were minor differences in views between the four major Sunni madh'habs about sentencing and specifications for these laws. It is often argued that, since Sharia is God's law and states certain punishments for each crime, they were immutable. It has been argued by some that the Hudud portion of Sharia is incompatible with humanism or human rights. Although the Hud punishments were imposed, the Islamic law of evidence was not implemented and remained British in origin.[8]

Drinking of wine (i.e. all alcoholic drinks) was not a crime under the PPC.[8] In 1977, however, the drinking and selling of wine by Muslims was banned in Pakistan and the sentence of imprisonment of six months or a fine of Rs. 5000/-, or both, was provided in that law. This ban on drinking was promulgated by Bhutto as he tried to soothen the tide of street Islamization drive called Nizam-e-Mustafa in his last days.[8]

Penal Code

Pakistan's college of unreliable witnesses and unscientific manner of investigations and very young secular law judges meant that Haddood too did not work like the secular PPC law before it. The Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) and the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) were amended, through ordinances in 1980, 1982 and 1986 to declare anything implying disrespect to the Islamic prophet Muhammad, Ahl al-Bayt (family members of Muhammad), Sahabah (companions of Muhammad) and Sha'ar-i-Islam (Islamic symbols), a cognizable offence, punishable with imprisonment or fine, or with both.

Pseudoscience and Metaphysics

Zia attempted to Islamize science in Pakistan and appointed Muslim fundamentalist administrators to enforce the pseudo-science.[57] At first, the policy was changed by Zia on nuclear development.[57] Zia argued that Pakistan's atomic bomb is a property of Islamic Ummah, a theory that Bhutto had earlier avoided to keep the Pakistan sentiment strong and alive in scientists while developing the program.[57] Saudi Arabia was the sole financier of the program, and Zia unofficially told Saudis that "Our achievements are your achievements", and later helped building the Saudi nuclear programme. This prompted Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan to send the designs of centrifuges to Libya to aide in their nuclear program as part of Zia's vision.[57] Zia changed the entire educational system in the country, under a general drive towards Islamization, started the process of historical revisionism in earnest and exploited this initiative. 'The Pakistan's establishment taught their children right from the beginning that this state was built on the basis of religion – that's why they don't have tolerance for other religions and want to wipe out all of them.'.[58]

At the end, Zia's controversial policies slowed down the progress of science in the country and attributed his dearth to militant Islam in Pakistan and the promotion of pseudoscience by Muslim fundamentalists in Pakistani schools and universities.[57]

Laws against Ahmadiyya community of 1984

Another addition to the laws was Ordinance XX of 1984.[8] Under this, the Ahmadiyya were barred from calling themselves Muslims, or using Islamic terminology or practising Islamic rituals. This resulted in classifying the Ahmadiyya Community of Pakistan into a minority group in law. Zia was also considered anti-Shia,[59] as Zia’s regime saw vicious persecution unleashed against the Shias, who form 20 percent of Pakistan's population in addition to the persecution levied against smaller sects such as the Ahmadiyyas.[60] Further during his reign many Shia Muslim personalities and politicians were killed, most prominently the judicial killing of Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.[61]

Zia did not throw Ahmedis from Army but Ahmedis who were declared minority in Bhutto's era were unhappy and regained prominent positions after Zia's death as PPP got power again.[8] Zia's only open clash with Shia Ulema was over Zakat (charity) distribution related issues. A book called "Profiles of intelligence" documents that event as written and resolved by a Shia military officer of ISI by the regime.[8]

Ordinance XX

Zia promulgated Ordinance XX on 26 April 1984, banning members of the Ahmadiyya community from performing some of their religious ceremonies and prayers.[62] He declared "This Ordinance may be called the Anti-Islamic Activities of the Ahmadis (Prohibition and Punishment) Ordinance, 1984". Although before Zia's rule, in 1974 Pakistan's National Assembly under Zulfikar Ali Bhutto it was declared that Ahmadis are classified as non-Muslims for the definition of the law.[63] But it was not sufficient in stopping the missionary activities of the Ahmadiyya community. Article 298-C of the new law states "Any person of the Quadiani group or the Lahori group (who call themselves ‘Ahmadis’ or by any other name), who, directly or indirectly, poses himself as Muslim, or calls, or refers to his faith as Islam, or preaches or propagates his faith, or invites others to accept his faith, by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representations, or in any manner whatsoever outrages the religious feelings of Muslims, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine."[64][65]

Violence against Ahmadiyya Community

Ironically, Zia had deep respect for Abdus Salam, a Nobel Laureate in Physics and had conferred with him with Order of Imtiaz in 1979. Zia also allowed Salam to have deliver lectures in Physics at the Islamabad University, and sanctioned an Award as national decoration after his name. Salam continued his ties with Pakistan's nuclear weapons programme and its associated personalities, but Zia had refrained Salam from participating in any experiment in the laboratories of Pakistan. Since the military regime of Zia unleashed a wave of persecution in the 1980s, violence against the Ahmadiyya community has never really ceased.[8] Ahmadis continue to be killed and injured, and have their homes and businesses burned down in anti-Ahmadi attacks. The authorities continue to arrest, jail and charge Ahmadis for blasphemy and other offenses because of their religious beliefs. In several instances, the police have been complicit in harassment and the framing of false charges against Ahmadis, or stood by in the face of anti-Ahmadi violence.[66]

Lal Masjid of Islamabad

The land of Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) was awarded to the occupants by Zia ul Haq. The controversial figureheads Abdul Aziz Ghazi and Abdul Rashid Ghazi of Jamia Hafsa had special relations with Zia ul Haq and those links were further enhanced by his son Muhammad Ijaz-ul-Haq during his term as a minister of religious affairs. The former head of Lal Masjid, Maulana Abdullah who was famous for speeches on Jihad (Holy war), is said to be very close to Zia ul Haq.[67]

Dismissal of the Junejo government and call for new elections

As time passed, the legislature wanted to have more freedom and power and by the beginning of 1988, rumors about the differences between Prime Minister Muhammad Khan Junejo and Zia were rife.

It is said by some that Zia-Junejo rift was encouraged by late Mahboob-ul-Haq and Junejo's insistence on signing Geneva pact without deciding the composition of next government of Afghanistan before Soviet withdrawal. Junejo also gave Benazir a seat next to him in parleys before that. Junejo did not strengthen the Islamization drive and rather weakened it. His era led to serious disturbances in Karachi and ultimately Karachi went into Shia control of MQM from clutches of Sunnis Jamaat-e-Islami.

Ojhri Camp blast had irreversibly weakened Zia versus Junejo. Junejo with western support could not strike Zia. Zia struck first.

On 29 May 1988, Zia dissolved the Senate and the National Assembly and removed the Prime Minister under article 58(2)b of the amended Constitution. Apart from many other reasons, Prime Minister Junejo's decision to sign the Geneva Accord against the wishes of Zia, and his open declarations of removing any military personnel found responsible for an explosion at a munitions dump at Ojhri Camp, on the outskirts of army headquarters in Rawalpindi, earlier in the year, proved to be some of the major factors responsible for his removal.

Zia played the Islam card to defend himself and the generals against any accusations of misrule and corruption[citation needed]. However since the media in Pakistan was brutally gagged in his days[citation needed], none of his corruption could be documented and brought to the limelight by the print media. When accused of trying to cover-up the Ojhri Camp incident, on 29 May 1988, he invoked an amendment that he had recently added to the Pakistani Constitution that allowed him to dismiss the Prime Minister, dissolve the National Assembly and all provincial assemblies – basically, the entire legislative portions of the government outside of the Presidency. Zia's loyalists in the military were called to form an interim government. Zia justified his actions and diverted attention from his corruption[citation needed] by focusing on how the further Islamization of Pakistan had been negligently delayed by Junejo and his government.

Zia promised to hold elections in 1988 after the dismissal of Junejo government. He said that he would hold elections within the next 90 days. The late Zulfikar Ali Bhutto's daughter Benazir Bhutto had returned from exile earlier in 1986, and had announced that she would be contesting the elections. With Bhutto's popularity somewhat growing, and a decrease in international aid following the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, Zia was in an increasingly difficult political situation.

Political Purge

General Zia as Chief Martial Law Administrator and later President, consolidated near-absolute power in 1970s and 1980s. The Purge that occurred in 1977 to 1979 and re-started in 1983, as a reaction to Zia's policies, the populist Movement for the Restoration of Democracy was born and soon gained popularity in Pakistan's smaller, poorer provinces, especially in Bhutto's home province, Sindh. General Zia responded by violently dealing with his political opponents and journalists as well as minorities. Indira Gandhi, Indian PM raised concerns over this brutality and violation of human rights at the hands of Pakistan's military dictatorship (Dawn 14 August 1983).[22]

Many senior military officers such as General Zulfikar Ali Khan and Major-General Tajammul Hussain Malik were convicted for treason, followed a small scale purging of Pakistan Army officers sympathetic to Bhutto. Zia curbed the Communist Party by illegally abducting Jam Saqi and Nazeer Abbasi for a secret trial. Both Abbasi and Saqi were tortured and killed while interrogating process into the hands of ruthless Brigadier-General Imtiaz Ahmad. The public lynching and flagellation became common for senior journalists and politicians who suffered at the hands of General Zia. This absolute act further radicalized the society where intolerance for other people was reached to maximum. Zia's torture and purge forced minorities to fled the country such as Major-General Eric Hall, director of Pakistan's space weapons program. The senior leadership of People's National Party took the refuge in neighboring Afghanistan and India, while many political workers went missing and either killed. One of the notable case was the hijacking of Pakistan International Airlines's Boeing 720 in 1981. ISI quickly founded that the Al-Zulfikar was behind this plot which resulted in killing of one military pilot. The leaders of this ring Salamullah Tipu was murdered in Kabul Prison; others were abducted by the ISI. The head of the KHAD, Mohammad Najibullah was also involved in this plot, but soon paid the price at the hands of the Taliban in 1996 when he was brutally beaten and publicly hanged in the roads of Kabul.

Soon this incident, Zia also began to hunt down the Al-Zulfiqar— a leftist organization founded by Bhutto's children. The brutal poisoning and death of Shahnawaz Bhutto, Bhutto's youngest son, is widely suspected to done under Zia's orders, though there are no evidences for this claim. Zia's persecution of Bhutto's family, forced Benazir, Sanam and Murtaza Bhutto to hide in Arab world, notably Syria who provided the government-sanctioned houses to the Bhutto family.


Zia died in a plane crash on 17 August 1988. After witnessing a US M1 Abrams tank demonstration in Bahawalpur, Zia had left the small town in the Punjab province by C-130 Hercules aircraft. Shortly after a smooth takeoff, the control tower lost contact with the aircraft. Witnesses who saw the plane in the air afterward claim it was flying erratically, then nosedived and exploded on impact. In addition to Zia, 31 others died in the plane crash, including Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Akhtar Abdur Rahman, close associate of Zia, Brigadier Siddique Salik, the American Ambassador to Pakistan Arnold Lewis Raphel and General Herbert M. Wassom, the head of the U.S. Military aid mission to Pakistan.[68][69] Ghulam Ishaq Khan, the Senate Chairman announced Zia's death on radio and TV. The manner of his death has given rise to many conspiracy theories.[70] There is speculation that America, India, the Soviet Union (as retaliation for US-Pakistani supported attacks in Afghanistan) or an alliance of them and internal groups within Zia's military were behind the attack.[71][72]

A board of inquiry was set up to investigate the crash. It concluded the most probable cause of the crash was a criminal act of sabotage perpetrated in the aircraft. It also suggested that poisonous gases were released which incapacitated the passengers and crew, which would explain why no Mayday signal was given.[73]

Maj Gen (retd) Mahmud Ali Durrani, claimed later that reports of Israeli and Indian involvement in Ziaul Haq’s plane crash were only speculations and he rejected the statement that was given by former president Ghulam Ishaq Khan that the presidential plane was blown up in the air. Durrani stated that Zia's plane was destroyed while landing.[74]

Funeral and burial

Zia's Tomb
Grave stone of Zia's grave

His funeral was held on 19 August 1988 in Islamabad. Also in attendance was his successor President Ghulam Ishaq Khan, who had earlier officially announced Zia's death in a nationwide address.


Books about Haq's time period

  • The Leopard and the Fox by Tariq Ali (2007)
  • Breaking the Curfew by Emma Duncan (1989) ISBN 0-7181-2989-X
  • Working with Zia by General Khalid Mahmud Arif
  • Khaki Shadows by General Khalid Mahmud Arif
  • Desperately Seeking Paradise by Ziauddin Sardar
  • Waiting for Allah by Christina Lamb
  • Ayub, Bhutto, and Zia by Hassan Iftikhar
  • Journey to Disillusionment by Sherbaz Khan Mazari
  • Ghost Wars by Steven Coll
  • General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq Shaheed: A Compilation by various authors
  • Charlie Wilson's War by George Crile
  • The Bear Trap: Afghanistan's Untold Story by Mohammed Yousaf, Mark Adkin (1992) ISBN 0-85052-267-6
  • A Case of Exploding Mangoes by Mohammed Hanif
  • Pakistan's Politics The Zia Years by Mushahid Hussain Syed
  • Pakistan Under Martial Law 1977-1985 by Muhammad Waseem

Portrayals in popular culture

Zia has been portrayed in English language popular culture a number of times including:

  • In the comic Shattered Visage, it is implied that Zia's death was orchestrated by the same intelligence agency that ran The Village from the show The Prisoner.
  • Zia was portrayed by Indian actor Om Puri in the 2007 film Charlie Wilson's War.
  • Zia is caricatured as one of the main protagonists in Mohammed Hanif's 2008 satirical novel A Case of Exploding Mangoes which is loosely based around the events of his death.[75]
  • Zia is the basis for the character General Hyder in Salman Rushdie's novel Shame (1983), which describes Zia's long-lasting relationship with Zulfikar Ali Bhutto (here known as Iskander Harrapa), the president whom he would later overthrow and "put to death".

See also


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  26. ^ In the summer of 1976, General Zia, who had superseded seven senior lieutenant-generals, told Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto: "Sir I am so grateful to you for appointing me Chief of Army Staff. Not only myself, but may future generations will be eternally grateful to you for singling me out for such a great honor, and this is a favour which I can never forget." The Herald, July 1992
  27. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y Anthony Hyman, Muhammed Ghayur, Naresh Kaushik (1989). Pakistan, Zia and after§Zia The Ringmaster. New Delhi: Abhinav Publications. pp. 130. ISBN 81-7017-253-5. 
  28. ^ Ardeshir Cowasjee, "The general's generals" Daily Dawn, 29 June 1995
  29. ^ A.H. Amin "Remembering Our Warriors: Maj Gen (Retd) Tajammal Hussain Malik" Defence Journal, September 2001
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  32. ^ Mazari, Sherbaz(2000) A Journey into disillusionment
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  36. ^ "Zia describing Bhutto.". Saudi Press Agency. Saudi Press Agency. Retrieved 16 November 2011. ""I hate anybody projecting as a leader ... if you want to serve the Islamic Ummah and Humanity, do it as a humble person. Amongst Muslims we are all Muslim brothers ... not leaders..." 
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External links

Military offices
Preceded by
Tikka Khan
Chief of Army Staff
Succeeded by
Mirza Aslam Beg
Preceded by
PM Zulfikar Ali Bhutto
Colonel Commandant of Pakistan Army Armoured Corps
Succeeded by
LGen Ali Jan Mehsud
Political offices
Preceded by
Fazal Ilahi Chaudhry
President of Pakistan
Succeeded by
Ghulam Ishaq Khan
Preceded by
Zulfikar Ali Bhutto
Chief Martial Law Administrator
1977–1978 and 1988-1988
Succeeded by
Pervez Musharraf
(assumed as Chief Executive in 1999)
Preceded by
Zulfikar Ali Bhutto
Defence Minister of Pakistan
1977–1978; 1985–1988
Succeeded by
Mahmoud Haroon

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