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Mohammad Zia-ul-Haq
محمد ضیاءالحق
Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq in 1982
6th President of Pakistan

In office
16 September 1978 – 17 August 1988
Prime Minister Muhammad Khan Junejo
Preceded by Fazal Ilahi Chaudhry
Succeeded by Ghulam Ishaq Khan
Personal details
Born (1924-08-12)12 August 1924
Jalandhar, Punjab, British India
(now in Punjab, India)
Died 17 August 1988(1988-08-17) (aged 64)
Bahawalpur, Punjab, Pakistan
Spouse(s) Begum Shafiqa Jahan[1]
Alma mater St. Stephen's College, Delhi
United States Army Command and General Staff College
Military service
Nickname(s) Mard-i-Momin
Allegiance  British India
Service/branch  British Indian Army
 Pakistan Army
Years of service 1943–1988
Rank US-O10 insignia.svg General
Unit Guides Cavalry, Army Armoured Corps (PA – 1810)
Commands 2nd Independent Armoured Brigade
1st Armoured Division
II Strike Corps
Chief of Army Staff
Battles/wars World War II
Indo-Pakistani War of 1965
Black September in Jordan
Soviet war in Afghanistan

Mohammad Zia-ul-Haq (Punjabi, Urdu language: محمد ضياء الحق

12 August 1924 – 17 August 1988), was the sixth President of Pakistan from 1978 until his death in 1988, having declared martial law for the third time in the country's history in 1977. He was Pakistan's longest-serving head of state, ruling eleven years.

After graduating from the Delhi University with a BA degree in economics, Zia saw action in World War II as a British Indian Army officer, before opting for Pakistan in 1947 and fighting in the war against India in 1965. In 1970, he led the Pakistani training mission in Jordan, proving instrumental[2] to putting down the Black September insurgency against King Hussein. In recognition, Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto approved Zia's appointment to four-star tier, as Chief of Army Staff in 1976, over several senior officers.[3] Following increasing civil disorder, Zia deposed Bhutto and declared martial law over the country in 1977.[4] Bhutto was controversially tried and executed by the Supreme Court less than two years later, for authorising the murder of a political opponent.[5]

Assuming the presidency in 1978, Zia played a major role in the Soviet war in neighboring Afghanistan. Aided by the United States and Saudi Arabia, Zia systematically coordinated the Afghan mujahideen against the Soviet occupation throughout the 1980s. This culminated in the USSR's defeat and withdrawal in 1989, but also led to the proliferation of millions of refugees, with heroin and weaponry into Pakistan's frontier province. Zia also bolstered ties with China and emphasised Pakistan's role in the Islamic world, while relations with India worsened amid the Siachen conflict and accusations that Pakistan was aiding the Khalistan movement. Domestically, Zia passed broad-ranging legislation as part of Pakistan's Islamization, acts criticised for fomenting religious intolerance. He also escalated Pakistan's atomic bomb project, and instituted industrialisation and deregulation, helping Pakistan's economy become among the fastest-growing in South Asia.[6] Averaged over Zia's rule, GDP growth was the highest in history.[7]

After lifting martial law and holding partyless elections in 1985, Zia appointed Muhammad Khan Junejo Prime Minister but accumulated even more presidential powers via the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution.[8] After Junejo signed the Geneva Accords in 1988 against Zia's wishes, and called for an enquiry into the Ojhri Camp disaster, Zia dismissed Junejo's government and announced fresh elections in November 1988. But he was killed along with several of his top generals and two American diplomats in a suspicious air crash near Bahawalpur on 17 August 1988. Zia is a polarising figure in Pakistan, credited by some for preventing wider Soviet incursions into the region as well as economic prosperity, but decried for weakening democratic institutions and passing laws encouraging Islamic fundamentalism.[9]

Early life

Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq was born in Jalandhar, Punjab state of the British India,[10] on 12 August 1924 to a lower middle-class family, as the second child of Muhammad Akbar, who worked as a staff clerk in the Army GHQ of India Command of British Armed Forces in Delhi and Simla, prior to the partition of India from British colonial rule in 1947.[11]

He completed his initial education in Simla and then attended St. Stephen's College of the University of Delhi in for his B.A. degree in Economics, which he graduated with highest marks in the college in 1943.[11] Prior to his graduation, Zia joined the British Indian Army in 1943.[12] During his collegiate years, he was noted as an extraordinary talent.[11]

He married Shafiqa Jahan in 1950–51.[13]

Shafiqa Zia died on 6 January 1996.[14] Zia is survived by his sons, Muhammad Ijaz-ul-Haq,[15] (born 1953), who went into politics and became a cabinet minister in the government of Nawaz Sharif, and Anwar-ul-Haq (born 1950)[16][17][18] and his daughters, Zian[19][20] (also Zain)[21] (born 1972),[22] a special needs child, and Rubina Saleem, who is married to a Pakistani banker and has been living in the United States since 1980,</ref>[23] and daughter Quratulain Zia who currently lives in London, and is married to Pakistani doctor, Adnan Majid.[24]

Military service


General Zia-ul-Haq (center-left, second row) marching with Chairman Joint Chiefs General Muhammad Shariff at PMA, 1977.

Zia was commissioned in the British Indian Army in a cavalry regiment on 12 May 1943 and served against Nazi Germany[citation needed] 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.[25] During the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, Zia was a tank commander.[26] However, Zia is also said to have been the Assistant Quarter Master of the 101st Infantry Division.[27]

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.[25]

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 and expressed his loyalty to him .[3]

On 1 March 1976, Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto approved then-3 star general Lieutenant-General Zia as Chief of Army Staff and to be elevated to 4 star rank.[28] This promotion was ahead of a number of more senior officers.[29] This promotion was highly controversial but had political motives for Bhutto, who saw Zia as firmly religious and an apolitical military figure who had distaste of politics.[2] This was the same motives and move made by future Prime minister Nawaz Sharif who promoted Pervez Musharraf based on his political ambitious, as Chief of Army Staff, but met the same fate as Bhutto in 1999 (although he was not executed).[2]

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.[30] 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.[31] Zia never called Bhutto as "Mr. Prime Minister", but relied on the term Sir while referring to Bhutto.[29]

Planning of coup

Prime Minister Bhutto began facing considerable criticism and increasing unpopularity as his term progressed, the democratic socialists alliance who had previously allied with Bhutto began to diminish as time progresses.[5] Initially targeting leader of the opposition Vali Khan and his opposition National Awami Party (NAP), also a socialist party. 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 Province for alleged secessionist activities[32] 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.[33]

1977 Parliamentary elections

On 8 January 1977 a large number of opposition political parties grouped to form the Pakistan National Alliance[33] (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.[citation needed]

Coup d'état

General Zia had been long planning to impose the Martial law and end of Bhutto's government since 1976, soon when he became chief of army staff.[34] On multiple occasions, Zia deliberately concealed intelligence information and misguided Bhutto on various political matters.[34] Soon, all the opposition leaders called for the overthrow of Bhutto's regime.[5] Political and civil disorder intensified, which led to more unrest.[35] Bhutto imposed martial law in major cities including Karachi, Lahore and Hyderabad. However, a compromise agreement between Bhutto and opposition was ultimately reported.[29] This compromise theory was however probably a later day addition as a major PPP armed rally was in the offing.[29] Zia planned 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.[29] Meanwhile, intelligence unit and army formations were placed in Prime minister secretariat who kept an eye on Bhutto's movement, tapping phone calls and keeping a record of invitees to the Prime Minister's secretariat.[29] General Zia's closest ally, General K.M. Arif, had tried to meet with Bhutto in various attempts, but such actions were thwarted by Zia.[29] Finally, on 5 April 1977, Arif succeeded in secretly meeting with Bhutto, revealing the plot against him. Bhutto remained unconvinced and disbelieving, reportedly asking how his protege General Zia could do such things to him. Bhutto dismissed General Arif later.[34]

Zia's planning was excellent and well-rehearsed from every inch of the situation... Zia wanted to became an undisputed leader... Bhutto was tied up and had given no single chance to protect himself from Zia's planning and his motives....

Fakhruddin Ebrahim, [29]

To remove this intelligence, Zia secretly contracted with 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.[29] 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 midnight.[29] Meanwhile, Zia with his close officers, including Admiral Mohammad Shariff, then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, arranged the coup in the evening.[29] 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 in the evening.[33] Bhutto tried to call Zia but all telephone lines were disconnected. An army officer appeared in the Prime minister secretariat to arrest Bhutto.[34] After realizing General Arif's warnings were no hoax and the coup had indeed taken place, the weeping officer reportedly told Bhutto that he was sorry but has been forced to perform such "an unpleasant task".[34]

General Zia and his military government portrayed the coup as a "spontaneous response to a difficult situation", but his response was a complete contradiction. Soon after the coup, General Zia told the British journalist Edward Behr of Newsweek:

I (Zia) am the only man who took this decision [Fair Play].... And I did so on 1700Hrs on 4[th] July after hearing the press statements that talks and negotiation between Mr. Bhutto and the opposition had broken down. Had an agreement been reached between them, I certainly would never had done it....

—General Zia-ul-Haq, statement given to Newsweek[2]

However, General Zia's Chief of Army Staff General Khalid Mahmud Arif contradicted Zia's statement when Arif noted that the coup had already been planned, and the senior leadership of Pakistan Armed Forces had solid information.[2] Therefore, Arif met with Bhutto on emergency basis, stressing and urging Bhutto to "rush negotiations with the opposition".[2] By General Arif and independent expert's accounts, the talks had not broken down even though the coup was very much in the offing. General Zia further argued that Fair Play against Bhutto had been necessitated by the prospect of a civil war that Bhutto had been planning, by distributing weapons to his supporters.[2] However, General Arif strongly rejected Zia's remarks on Bhutto, and citing no evidence that weapons were found or recovered at any of the party's election offices, the military junta did not prosecute Bhutto on the charge of planning civil war.[2]

Immediately, the Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Mohammad Shariff announced his and the navy's strong support for General Zia-ul-Haq and his military government.[2] But, the Chief of Air Staff General Zulfikar Ali Khan remains unsupported while the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Muhammad Shariff remains neutral, while he silently expressd his support to Prime minister Zulfikar Bhutto.[2] In 1978, Zia pressured President Fazal Ilahi Chaudhry to appoint General Anwar Shamim as Chief of Air Staff; and Admiral Caramatt Nazi as Chief of Naval Staff in 1979.[36] On Zia's recommendation, President Illahi appointed Admiral Mohammad Shariff as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, hence making the Admiral the highest ranking officer and principal military adviser overlooking all of the inter-services, including the Chiefs of Staff of the respected forces.[36] In 1979, the Chiefs of Army, Navy, and the Air Force, including the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff validated the coup as constitutional and legal under the war-torn circumstances, pledging their support to General Zia-ul-Haq as well.[2]

United States sponsorship

President Ronald Reagan and Bill Clark meeting with President Zia-ul-Haq, 1982.

The United States, notably President Ronald Reagan's Administration, was a staunch sponsor of Zia's military regime and was the major ally of Pakistan's conservative military.[37] The Reagan administration declared Zia's regime as the "front line" ally of the United States in the fight against the Communism.[37][38] American legislators and senior officials most notable were Zbigniew Brzezinski, Henry Kissinger, Charlie Wilson, Joanne Herring, and the civilian intelligence officers Michael Pillsbury and Gust Avrakotos, and senior U.S. military officials General John William Vessey, and General Herbert M. Wassom, had been long associated with the Zia military regime where they had made frequent trips to Pakistan advising on expanding the idea of establishment in the political circle of Pakistan.[37] Nominally, the American conservatism of Ronald Reagan's Republican Party influenced General Zia-ul-Haq to adopt his idea of Islamic conservatism as the primary line of his military government, forcefully enforcing the Islamic and other religious practices in the country.[37]

The socialist orientation had greatly alarmed the capitalist forces in Pakistan and as well as brought a clinging bell tolls alarm to the United States who feared the loss of Pakistan as an ally in the cold war.[2] Many of Pakistan's political scientists and historians widely suspected that the riots and coup against Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was orchestrated with help of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the United States Government because United States growing fear of Bhutto's socialist policies which were seen as sympathetic towards the Soviet Union and had built a bridge that allowed Soviet Union to involved in Pakistan, and had access through Pakistan's warm water port; something that the United States was unable to gain access since the establishment of Pakistan in 1947.[37][39] Former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark widely suspected the United States' involvement in bringing down the Bhutto's government, and publicly accused the United States' Government after attending the trial.[39] On other hand, the United States refused any involvement in Bhutto's fall, and argued that it was Bhutto who had alienated himself over the five years.[2] While witnessing the dramatic fall of Bhutto, one U.S. diplomat in American Embassy in Islamabad wrote that:

During Bhutto's five years in Pakistan's helm, Bhutto had retained an emotional hold on the poor masses who had voted him overwhelmingly in 1970s general elections. At the same time, however, Bhutto had many enemies. The socialist economics and nationalization of major private industries during his first two years on office had badly upsets the Business circles... An ill-considered decision to take over the wheat-milling, rice-husking, sugar mills, and cotton-gaining, industries in July of 1976 had angered the small business owners and traders. Both leftists — socialists and communists, intellectuals, students, and trade unionists— felt betrayed by Bhutto's shift to centre-right wing conservative economics policies and by his growing collaboration with powerful feudal lords, Pakistan's traditional power brokers. After 1976, Bhutto's aggressive authoritarian personal style and often high-handed way of dealing with political rivals, dissidents, and opponents had also alienated many....

U.S. Embassy, Pakistan, U.S. commenting of Bhutto's fate[2]

Postponement of elections and call for accountability

After assuming power as Chief Martial Law Administrator, Zia shortly appeared on national television, PTV promising to hold new and neutral parliamentary elections within the next 90 days[2] and to hand over power to the civilian representatives of the nation.[2] He also stated that the Constitution of Pakistan had not been abrogated, but temporarily suspended.[2] Zia did not trust the civilian institutions and legislators to ensure the country's integrity and sovereignty[2] therefore, in October 1977, he announced the postponement of the electoral plan and decided to start an accountability process for the politicians.[40] On television, Zia strongly defended his decision for postponing the elections and demanded that "scrutiny of political leaders who had engaged in malpractice in the past".[40] Thus, the PNA adopted its policy of "retribution first, elections later".[40] Zia's policy severely tainted his credibility as many, both domestically and internationally, saw the broken promise as malicious.[29] Another motive was that Zia widely suspected that once out of power the size of PPP rallies swell and a better performance in elections was possible.[2] This led to request for postponement of elections by the right-wing Islamists as well as left-wing socialists, formerly allied with Bhutto, which displaced Bhutto in the first place.[2] Zia dispatched an intelligence unit, known as ISI's Political Wing, sending Brigadier-General Taffazul Hussain Siddiqiui, to Bhutto's native Province, Sindh, to assess whether people would accept martial law.[2] The Political Wing also contacted the several right-wing Islamists and conservatives, promising an election, with PNA power-sharing the government with Zia.[2] Zia successfully divided and separated the secular forces from right-wing Islamists and conservatives, and later purged each member of secular front.[2]

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.[40] A white paper document was issued, incriminating the deposed Bhutto government on several counts.[40]

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 Khan or the legitimacy of Liaquat Ali Khan" thereby implying how can he be marketed.[2]

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.[41] After completing his term, and despite Zia's insistence to accept an extension as President, 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.

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.[42][43][44] 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.[45] The Supreme Court ruled four to three in favour 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.[45] Despite many clemency appeals from foreign leaders requesting Zia to commute Bhutto's death sentence, Zia dismissed the appeals and upheld the death sentence.[45] The hanging of an elected prime minister by a military was condemned by the international community and by lawyers and jurists across Pakistan.[45] Bhutto's trial was highly controversial.[45][45]

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.[29] He mentioned the words of "heir" for his son "Mir Murtaza Bhutto".[29] 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.[29] He repeatedly brought the subject of his maltreatment in the death cell.[29] 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.[29]

Bhutto's other lawyer Abdul Hafiz Pirzada filed a petition for the release of Bhutto's colleague Mubashir Hassan and Bhutto itself.[29] The Supreme Court concluded that Bhutto's execution can be revered by the President, and Hassan's case is being dealt with by Military Justice Court led by Zia; therefore, the civilian courts have no jurisdiction over that hearing.[29] Pirzada submitted the request to Chief of Army Staff Directorate, but Zia claimed that the request application had been gone missing.[29] 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.[29] 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).[29] The application was made public domain when General Pervez Musharraf declassified much of the 1970s secret documentations.

Appointment of Martial Law Administrators

Martial law judges

The Ad hoc appointments of senior justices at the Supreme Court of Pakistan was one of the earliest and major steps were taken out by the military government under General Zia-ul-Haq.[46] Zia had recognized the fact that since, Bhutto had good equations with the governments of the Soviet Union, China, and all the important western countries, excluding the United States.[46] Still, it was a formidable array of sovereigns, presidents and prime ministers and the PPP can be forgiven for making a massive political miscalculations.[46]

After calling for martial law, Zia pressured President Fazal Illahi to appoint Justice Sheikh Anwarul Haq to Chief Justice of Pakistan on September 23, 1977.[46] Immediately, chief justice Yaqub Ali was forcefully removed from the office after the latter agreed to re-hear the petition filed at the supreme court by the peoples party's chairwoman Nusrat Bhutto on 20 September 1977.[46] After Justice Yaqub Ali's removal, Bhutto objected to the inclusion of the new Chief Justice, Sheikh Anwar-ul-Haq, as a chief justice of the Bench on the grounds that by accepting the office of acting president during the absence of Zia-ul-Haq from the country, he had compromised his impartial status.[46] Bhutto also stated that the Chief Justice in his public statements had been critical of his government in the recent past.[46]

The objection was overruled by the Chief Justice Anwarul Haq, and the case of Bhutto was again heard by the Chief Justice Anwar-ul-Haq as the bench's lead judge, and presided the whole case of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto while forcing the martial law throughout Pakistan.[46] Shortly, after Zia's return, another judge Mushtak Ahmad also gained Zia and Anwar-ul-Haq's support and elevated as the ad hoc Chief Justice of Lahore High Court; he was too part of the bench who retained the death sentence of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto even though Bhutto was not declared guilty of the murder of the political opponent.[46] In 1979, when Zia departed for Saudi Arabia, Justice Haq served as interim president of Pakistan.[46]

Martial law governors

Zia presenting the Hilal-i-Imtiaz to Shamim Alam Khan.

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.[47] 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.[47]

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.[47] By contrast, third martial law administrator appointment of Lieutenant-General Ghulam Jilani Khan to the Punjab Province made much headway in beautifying Lahore[47] extending infrastructure, and muting political opposition.[47] The ascent of Navaz Sharif to Chief Minister of Punjab was largely due to General Jilani's sponsorship.[48] Perhaps most crucially, final and fourth martial law administrator appointment was then-Lieutenant-General Rahimuddin Khan.[47] 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.[47]

Zia's tenure saw the influx of heroin,[47] sophisticated weaponry, and countless refugees in from neighboring Afghanistan.[47] Law and order deterioration was worse after he appointed Mr. Junejo as Prime minister in 1985.[47] The government did not locate evidence of Zia having a relationship in the heroin trade, but has been considered.[49]

Zia benefited from the extremely capable martial law administrators who previously had worked with the military governments of former president Yahya Khan and Ayub Khan in 1960s.[36] One of the notable officers that had worked with him were General Khalid Arief, Chief of Army Staff, and Admiral Mohammad Shariff, Chairman Joint Chiefs.[36] Both were noted by Western governments as highly capable and had wide experience from the military government of the East-Pakistan and remained General Zia' confidential members.[36][50]

Both Admiral Sharif and General Arif handled the matters efficiently if the matters were out of control by Zia. In 1979, Zia influenced the Navy's Promotion Board several times after he succeeded first in the appointment of Admiral Caramatt Nazi as Chief of Naval Staff in 1979, and Admiral Tarik Kamal Khan, also chief of naval staff, in 1983.[36] On his request, then-President Fazal Illahi approved the appointment of General Anwar Shamim as Chief of Air Staff and following President's resignation, Zia appointed Shamim as the Deputy Chief Martial Law Administrator.[36] In the matters of serious national security, General Zia had take the chief of air staff and chief of naval staff in confidence after he discussed the matters with the respected chiefs of Staff.[36] Zia's appointment in inter-services were highly crucial for his military government and pre-emptive measure to ensure the continuous loyalty of Navy and Air Force to himself and his new military government.[36]

Reign as President of Pakistan

Formation of Majlis-e-Shoora

As like the previous military governments, General Zia disbanded the idea of "Parliamentary democracy" after he banned all political parties in Pakistan; and political structure built by Zulfikar Bhutto was destroyed, hampered, and non-existed by the 1980s. However, a new system was still needed to administer the country where issues of government policies were demanding speeding solutions. 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. Zia decided to replace "Parliamentary democracy" system to Soviet-like mind idea of "technocracy" and 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 many fold. Many members of this Shoora later joined other parties after his death. Zia's parliament and his military government reflect the idea of "military-bureaucratic technocracy" (MBT) where professionals, engineers, and high-profile military officers were initially part of his military government. His strong hate for the politicians led the promotion of bureaucratic-technocracy which was seen a strong weapon of countering the politicians and their political strongholds. Senior statesman and technocrats were included physicist-turned diplomat Agha Shahi, jurist Schariefuddin Perzada, corporate leader Navaz Scharif, economist Mahbub ul Haq, and senior statesman Aftab Kazie, Roedad Khan, and chemist-turned diplomat Ghulam Ishaq Khan were a few of the leading technocratic figures in his military government.

Referendum of 1984

After Bhutto's execution, momentum to hold elections began to mount both internationally and within Pakistan. But before handing over power to elected representatives, Zia-ul-Haq attempted to secure his position as the head of state. A referendum was held on 19 December 1984 with the option being to elect or reject the General as the future President. According to official figures 95% of votes were cast in favour of Zia, however only 10% of the electorate participated in the referendum.

1985 elections and constitutional amendments

After holding the 1984 referendum, Zia succumbed to international pressure and gave permission to election commission to hold the national wide but non-partisan general elections in the country in February 1985.[8] Most of the major 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.[8]

Before handing over the power to the new government and lifting the 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 Parliament.[8] However, this amendment considerably reduced the power he'd previously granted himself to dissolve the legislature, at least on paper.[8] The text of the amendment permitted Zia to dissolve the Parliament only if the government 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.[8]

Involvement in the Soviet-Afghan War

The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan

On 25 December 1979, the Soviet Union (USSR) intervened in Afghanistan.[51] 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.[51] Zia, however, was ideologically opposed to the idea of communism taking over a neighbouring 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.[51]

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.[51] During this meeting, General Rahman was heard saying: "Kabul must burn! Kabul must burn!",[51] and mastered the idea of proxy war in Afghanistan.[51] After this meeting, Zia authorised this operation under General Rahman, and it was later merged with Operation Cyclone, a programme funded by the United States and the CIA.[51]

In November 1982, General Zia travelled to the Soviet Union to attend the funeral of Leonid Brezhnev, then-General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.[29] Soviet President Andrei Gromyko and the new Secretary-General Yuri Andropov met with Zia where a brief meeting took place at the Kremlin.[29] 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, Afghanistan, and expressed his indignation to the General.[29] 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".[29] 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.[29]

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.[29] But with Zia, the tyranny could easily been seen on his face.[29]

Zia reversed many of Bhutto's foreign policy initiatives by first establishing stronger links with the United States, Japan, and the Western world.[52] Zia broken off relations with the Socialist state and State capitalism became his major economic policy. Charlie Wilson claims that Zia directly dealt with the Israelis, working to build covert relations with them, allowing the country to actively participate in Soviet war in Afghanistan. Helped by ISI, the Mossad channeled Soviet reversed engineered weapons to Afghanistan.[52] In Wilson's own word, Zia reported to have remarked to Israeli intelligence service: "Just don't put any stars of David on the boxes".[52]

Economic reform

By the time, General Zia had initiated the coup against Prime Minister Zulfikar Bhutto, the economic cycle process of nationalization program was completed. The socialist orientation and nationalisation program was slowly reversed; the idea of corporatization was heavily favored by President Zia-ul-Haq to direct the authoritarianism in the nationalized industries. One of his well-known and earliest initiatives were aimed to Islamized the national economy which featured the Interest-free economic cycle. No actions towards privatizing the industries were ordered by President Zia; only three steel mill industries were returned to its previous owners.

By the end of 1987, the Finance ministry had began studying the process of engaging the gradual privatisation and economic liberalization. Between 1977 and 1986, the country experienced an average annual growth in the GNP of 6.8%, highest in the world at that time.

Strategic initiatives

Consolidation of atomic bomb programme

One of the earliest initiative taken by General Zia in 1977, was to militarise the integrated atomic energy programme which was founded by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in 1972.[53] During the first stages, the programme was under the control of Bhutto and the Directorate for Science, under Science Advisor Dr. Mubashir Hassan,who was heading the civilian committee that supervised the construction of the facilities and laboratories.[53] This atomic bomb project had no boundaries with Munir Khan and Abdul Qadeer Khan leading their efforts separately and reported to Bhutto and his science adviser Dr. Mubashir Hassan who had little interest in the atomic bomb project.[53] Major-General Zahid Ali Akbar, an 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.[53] This whole giant nuclear energy project was transferred into the complete administrative hands of Major-General Akbar who was soon made the Lieutenant-General and Engineer-in-Chief of Corps of Engineers to deal with the authorities whose cooperation was required.[53] General Akbar consolidated the entire project by placing the scientific research under military control, setting boundaries and goals.[53] 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 a matter of five years.[53]

By the time, Zia assumed control, the research facilities became fully functional and 90% of the work on atom bomb project was completed.[53] Both the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) and the Khan Research Laboratories (KRL) had ingeniously built the extensive research infrastructure initiated by Bhutto.[53] General Akbar's office was shifted to Army Combatant General Headquarters (GHQ) and General Akbar guided General Zia on key matters of nuclear science and the atomic bomb production. He became the first engineering officer to have acknowledge General Zia about the success of this energy project into a fully matured programme.[53] On the recommendation of Akbar, Zia approved the appointment of Munir Ahmad Khan as the scientific director of the atomic bomb project, as Zia was convinced by Akbar that civilian scientists under Munir Khan's directorship were at their best to counter the international pressure.[53]

This was proved when the PAEC conducted the cold-fission test of a fission device, codename Kirana-I on 11 March 1983 at the Weapon-Testing Laboratories-I, under the leadership of weapon-testing laboratory's director Dr. Ishfaq Ahmad.[53] Lieutenant-General Zahid Akbar went to GHQ and notified General Zia about the success of the this test.[53] The PAEC responded by conducting several cold-tests throughout the 1980s, a policy also continued by Benazir Bhutto in 1990s.[53] According to the reference in the book, "Eating Grass", Zia was deeply convinced that infiltration of Western and American moles and spies in gaining access to the project; that he extended his role in the atomic bomb, which reflected extreme "paranoia", both in his personal life and in professional life.[54] He virtually had PAEC and KRL separeted from each other and made critical administrative descision rather putting scientists in charge of the aspects of the atomic programmes.[54] His actions spurred the innovation in the atomic bomb project and an intense secrecy and securty culture premated in PAEC and KRL.[54]

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.[53] From 1979 to 1983, the country was made a subject of attack by international organisation for not signing the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT); General Zia deftly neutralised international pressure by tagging Pakistan's nuclear weapons programme to the nuclear designs of neighbouring Indian nuclear programme.[53] 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.[55]

(sic)...Either General Zia did not know the facts about country's atomic bomb project... Or General Zia was the "most superb and patriotic liar I have ever met...."

Vernon Walters, 1981, [56]

Following the success of Operation Opera— Where an Israeli Air Force strike took place to sabotage the Iraqi nuclear programme in 1981— suspicion grew in Pakistan that Indian Air Force had similar plans for Pakistan.[57] In a 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.[57] 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.[57] At Vienna, Munir Ahmad Khan met with Raja Ramanna notified his counterpart that such an attack would provoke a nuclear war between two countries.[58] 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.[57] 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.[57] 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.[57]

In 1977, Zia ultimately adopted the policy of "Nuclear opacity" to deliberately denied the sensitive atomic bomb programmes.[56] This policy of nuclear ambiguity was adopted after witnessing the success of Israel's nuclear program and on multiple occasions Zia's break his words and promises concerning the nature of country's atomic bomb project.[56] On nuclear policy issues, Zia deliberately misguided the United States and concealed classified information from the outside world.[56] The United States trusted Zia's sincerity and his promises made by him to United States; Zia gave his words and assurances to the United States not to produced weapon-grade plutonium and highly enriched uranium (HEU) above a 5% level.[56] However, the Deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency Vernon Walter confronted Zia on his secret trip to Pakistan in October 1981. Confronted with the evidences, General Zia acknowledged that the information "must be true," but then denied everything, leading Walters to conclude that: "either Zia "did not know the facts" or was the "most superb and patriotic liar I have ever met...".[56]

Nuclear proliferation

Soon after the coup, the clandestine nuclear energy project was no longer a secret to the outside world.[53] 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.[53] 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 enhanced the Chinese nuclear programme.[53] 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.[53] This policy was envisaged that this would deflect international pressure on these countries and Pakistan would be spared the international community's wrath.[59]

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 such as North Korea, Iran and Libya which 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.[60] Zia's nuclear proliferation policy had deep impact on the world, especially anti-western states, most nominally North Korea and Iran. In the 2000s (decade), North Korea soon would followed the same suit after it was targeted by international community for its on-going nuclear program. In the 2000s (decade), North Korea attempted to aid in Syrian and Iranian nuclear program in 1990s.[53] The North Korean connection to Syrian nuclear program was exposed in 2007 by Israel in its successful strategic operation, Orchard, which resulted in sabotaging the Syrian nuclear program as well as death of 10 senior North-Korean scientists who were aiding to build the nuclear program.


Even though General Zia had removed the Bhutto sentiment in the nuclear energy project, General Zia did not completely disband Bhutto's policy on nuclear weapons.[53] 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.[53] 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.[53] 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.[53] General Zia also took initiatives to launched the space projects as spin-off to nuclear project.[53] Zia appointed nuclear engineer Salim Mehmud as the Administrator of the Space Research Commission.[61] Zia also launched the work on country's first satellite, Badr-1, a military satellite.[61] 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.[62]

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."[63] 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.[64] 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.[65] 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.[66]

Two Afghan Mujahideen groups later morphed into Jihadist outfits in the shape of Taliban and Al-Qaeda in the early 1990s. 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 shocked country's pillars, and faced a wave of suicide bombings from the period 2007 to 2011, resulting in more than 30,000 civilian deaths in Pakistan.

'Islamisation' of Pakistan

The Islamic conservatism and the Islamic state became Zia's primary policy of his military government.[2][2] The secular-socialist orientation and socialist economics process was an attempt to upset to Pakistan's order of operation on a routine life, as Zia maintained.[2] General Zia rejected Bhutto's philosophy and was reported to highly hostile of Bhutto's philosophical rationale, "Food, clothing, and shelter".[2] General Zia defended his policies in an interview in 1979 given to British journalist Ian Stephens, as he puts it.

The basis of Pakistan was Islam. The basis of Pakistan were Muslims in the subcontinent are a separate culture. It was the Two-Nation Theory that carved out of the Subcontinent as Pakistan.... Mr. [Zulfikar] Bhutto's way of flourishing way of This Society was by eroding its moral fiber. Mr. Bhutto.. eroded the moral fiber of the society by pitching students against teachers, children against their parents, landlord against tenants, workers against mill owners. Pakistan is not incapable of economic production. It is because Pakistanis have been made to believe that one can earn without working.... We are going back to Islam not by choice but by the force of circumstances. It is not I or my [military] government that is imposing Islam. It was the 99 percent of people wanted; the street violence against Bhutto reflected the people's desire of wanting— just as the campaign for Pakistan Movement. I am just giving the people [of Pakistan] what they want.

—General Zia-ul-Haq interview giving in 1979 to Ian Stephens[2]

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."[67] 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 secular law, inherited from the British. As a preliminary measure to establish an Islamic society in Pakistan, Zia announced the establishment of Sharia Benches.[67] To many secular and communist forces, Zia cynically manipulated Islam for the survival of his own regime.[67] 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, [67]

Islamic Ordinances

The hybridisation of Pakistan penal code with Islamic laws was not an easy work.[68] Two very different logics lay underneath both.[68] 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.[68] 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.[68] 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.[68]

If we are not "Muslims", then what are we? Second-rate Indians?

—General Zia-ul-Haq, 1981.[2]

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.[68] And if they are married they shall be stoned to death provided the proof required for hadd is met.[68] 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.[68] 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.[68] 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.[68] The onus of providing proof in a rape case rests with the woman herself.[68] 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.[68] Thus this ordinance has been criticised by human rights and women's rights activists, lawyers and politicians over the years, but so far no attempt at repeal has been successful.[69]

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.[68] Crimes classified under Hudud were the most severe of crimes, such as murder, theft, and adultery.[68] 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 was argued by secularists that the Hudud portion of Sharia is incompatible with human rights. Although the Sharia punishments were imposed, the Islamic law of evidence was not implemented and remained British in origin.[68]

Drinking of wine (i.e. all alcoholic drinks) was not a crime under the PPC.[68] 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.[68]

Penal Code

In 1979, an Islamic Penal Code was introduced by Zia.[70] 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 cognisable offence, punishable with imprisonment or fine, or with both.

Madrassa Expansions

Zia-ul-Haq increased the number of Madrassas from 893 to 2,801 during his years in office. A total of 64% of these madrassas were Deobandi, while the remaining 25% were Barelvi.[71] Under the Zia-ul-Haq regime, Pakistan experienced its first state sponsorship of these types of institutions.[72]

Cultural policies

In 1979, Zia addressed the nation in which he denounced the Western culture and music in the country. At the national television, PTV, the music videos were removed and only patriotic songs were broadcast.[73] New taxation laws were imposed on the film industry and the government forcibly closed most of the cinemas in Lahore.[74] New tax rates were introduced, further decreasing cinema attendances.[74]

The film industry's projection of violence, action, and militarism made Sultan Rahi and Anjuman the iconic figure in the Punjabi films, Pashto cinema took on a contrasting façade. Backed by powerful politicians including Zia's military administration in Khyber Province, the Pashto filmmakers were able to get around the censor policies and filled their films with softcore pornography to increase viewership.[75] This threw away the romantic and loveable image of Pakistani cinema and less people were attracted to the prospect of going to a cinema. Nevertheless influx of refugees from across the Afghani border, who were denied the entertainment in their country, kept the industry strongly active.[76]

According to the memoirs of Zia's Chief of Army Staff, General KM Arif, although his policies were subjected to tough religious adherence, but Zia never imposed religion personally.[2] Zia's repeated meetings with President Ronald Reagan had him to overlook his cultural policies, many Westerners in his regime had brought the Western influence in the culture of the country.[47]

The critic of Zia and leftist cultural writer, Nadeem F. Paracha, further wrote that in 2013 that it was the "conservative regime of Zia when the Western 1980's fashion wear and hairstyle was popularized, and the rock music bands that were gaining momentum under his regime.[77] Paracha further wrote that: "Ironically, it was these political and economic tensions and pretensions, heavy metal, rock music power plays and the economic prosperity that also propelled the gradual expansion of the country's urban middle and lower-middle-classes.[77] According to the leftist cultural critic, Nadeem F. Paracha: "The youth culture at that emerged from these classes that launched the first shots of the kind of pop culture, scene and music we now call modern Pakistani pop and rock."[77]

During the peak and end times of regime of President Zia-ul-Haq, there was popular wave of cultural change in the country, and the youth at that time was attracted to many underground rock music bands.[77]

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, rumours 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 the secular control of MQM from the 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 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 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 Air Chief Marshal Zulfiqar 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 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 radicalised 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 neighbouring 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 after this incident, Zia also began to hunt down the Al-Zulfiqar— a leftist organisation 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-130B Hercules aircraft. The aircraft departed from Bahawalpur Airport and was expected to reach Islamabad International Airport.[78] 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.[79][80] 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.[81] 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.[82][83]

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.[84] There were also speculation into other facts involving the details of the investigation. A black box was not located after the crash and previous C-130 airplanes did have them installed.[85]

Maj Gen (retd) Mahmud Ali Durrani claimed later that reports of Israeli and Indian involvement in Zia ul 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.[86]


Zia's Tomb

Funeral and aftermath

Well, he was a great loss...He is a martyr, and was a great man.

George P. Shultz, 1988, Cited source[87]

Grave stone of Zia's grave

His funeral was held on 19 August 1988 in Islamabad.[87] As a 21-gun salute of light artillery resounded off the lush Margalla Hills, nearly 1 million mourners joined in chants of "Zia ul-Haq, you will live as long as the sun and moon remain above."[87] His body was laid to rest in a 4-by-10-foot dirt grave in front of the huge, modern mosque that Zia had built as a symbol of his nation's commitment to Islam.[87] Also in attendance was his successor President Ghulam Ishaq Khan chiefs of staff of armed forces, chairman joint chiefs and other high civic-military officials.[87] Former US Secretary of State George P. Shultz also laid a floral wreath at Zia's grave.[87]

Public image

Even after his death, Zia-ul-Haq remained highly polarized and widely discussed figure in the country's intellectual and political circles.[88] Out of the country's short history, Zia-ul-Haq's legacy remains a most toxic, enduring, and tamper-proof legacy, according to the editorial written in Dawn.[88] Historians and political scientists widely discussed and studied his policy making skills, some authors noting him as "The Ringmaster"[34] and "Master Tactician".[89] However, his most remembered and enduring legacy was his indirect involvement and military strategies, by proxy supporting the Mujahideen, against the USSR's war in Afghanistan.[90] His reign also helped the conservatives to rise at the national politics against Benazir Bhutto.[90] He is also noted being one of the successful general in making the armed forces as central planner in country's affairs.[91] It was during his conservative regime when the Western-styled hair fashion, clothing, rock music bands flooded the country, and gained a lot of appraisal from the public.[77] The 1980s generally regarded as the year of birth of rock music which became a vehicle of expressing national spirit in the country.[77]


  • Knight of the Order of the Rajamitrabhorn (Thailand).

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 III
  • 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
  • Songs of Blood and Sword by Fatima Bhutto

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.[92]
  • 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".
  • Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq's takeover of Pakistan and circumstances of his death were referenced in the Star Trek novel The Rise and Fall of Khan Noonien Singh, Volume One. In a prelude to the fictional Eugenics Wars, it is implied that genetically engineered "superman" Khan Noonien Singh arranged the crash.[93]
  • The oppressive regime of Zia-ul-Haq and the execution of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was referenced in the book "Songs of Blood and Sword", a non-fiction memoir by Murtaza Bhutto's daughter Fatima Bhutto with chilling intensity.

See also

  • List of Pakistani heads of state or government
  • Politics of Pakistan
  • Line of succession to the President of Pakistan
  • Military dictatorship
  • Oppression under the regime of General Zia-ul-Haq
  • Corporate capitalisation


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External links

Military offices
Preceded by
Zulfikar Ali Bhutto
Colonel Commandant of Army Armoured Corps
Succeeded by
Ali Jan Mehsud
Preceded by
Tikka Khan
Chief of Army Staff
Succeeded by
Mirza Aslam Beg
Political offices
Preceded by
Zulfikar Ali Bhutto
Minister of Defence
Succeeded by
Ali Ahmed Khan Talpur
Preceded by
Ali Ahmed Khan Talpur
Minister of Defence
Succeeded by
Muhammad Khan Junejo
Preceded by
Fazal Ilahi Chaudhry
President of Pakistan
Succeeded by
Ghulam Ishaq Khan

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