GENERAL MUHAMMAD ZIA UL Haq
General Muhammad Zia Ul Haq was the 6th president of Pakistan. He is the longest serving head of state until now. His regime lasted for 11 continue years and ended on August 17, 1988 after a plane Crash in Bahawalpur.
General Muhammad Zia Ul Haq Born in August 12, 1924 Jalandhar (India). He got commission in 1943 in Royal India Military Academy and served in Malaysia, Burma & Indonesia during World War II. After Pakistan’s independence he joined Pakistan army.
In his illustrious military career he served on various command and staff positions having commanded brigade & division before being appointed as Commander strike corps Multan in 1975.
In April 1976 then Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto took the world in surprise when in a highly controversial move, superseded 05 senior most Generals and elevated General Zia as Chief of army staff. He probably wanted somebody to be submissive and loyal to him. Zia Ul Haq’s apparent aversion from politics & interest in Golf tempted Bhutto to choose him him as COAS.
The decision soon proved to be dreadful and horrible when Zia proved himself smarter and cleverer than Bhutto’s imaginations.
As the result of 1977 general elections tension raised between Bhutto and PNA alliance. Political and civil unrest was so intense and no party was in mood to back down from its position.
Pakistan National Alliance accused Z.A. Bhutto of rigging the elections and called elections as engineered and rigged. The tensions kept rising, meetings after meeting were held before reaching a deadlock. Many say that Bhutto and PNA reached a mutual agreement on July 04 but it was Air Marshal ® Asghar Khan who allegedly tumbled down the agreement.
This murky law and order situation and political unrest as the result of alleged rigged elections in diced Zia to overthrow Bhutto’s Government and finally on July 05, 1977 Zia Ul Haq toppled the civil Government of ZA Bhutto and enforced a martial law in the country in a bloodless coup. Resulting in the arrest of Mr. Bhutto. Many historians and close personalities of Zia believed that Zia began to plan military Coup soon after his appointment as COAS. Zia was very crafty and sharp. He planned everything very carefully and executed perfectly.
Trial & execution of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto
Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s was considered as severe threat to Zia. And in order to deal with this, Bhutto’s trial was announced in the Murder case of Raza Khan Kasoori, father of famous lawyer Ahmed Raza Khan Kasoori.
Special bench of High court was formed to hear the murder case. The trial lasted for 05 months and finally announced “Death Sentence” to former Prime Minister of Pakistan. Country’s top court Upheld High Court’s decision
The controversial trial ended in a serious provocative decision of hanging of one of the most charismatic leader of 3rd World.
The decision sparked anger and fury worldwide especially Muslim world. According to some reports more than 80 thousand requests and appeals were sent to General Zia Ul Haq to halt the execution of Z.A. Bhutto. But Zia not only rejected those pleas but also went on to hang Bhutto on 04th of April, 1979. The decision was highly unpopular and controversial which was internationally condemned. The decision also question marked the independence of judiciary and its embarrassing role in bowing down before a martial law dictator.
Referendum of 1984
In 1984 General Zia conducted a nationwide referendum with the option of being reject or elect as country’s president. Remarkably 95% of people casted their votes in Favor of Zia, allowing him to rule the country for 05 more years.
After becoming Chief Martial Law administrator he started accountability process and continue to scrutinize the politicians who were involved in Malfunction and corruption. Disqualification tribunal was formed and dozens of politicians and Member of Parliament were disqualified from participating in elections. Zia Ul Haq soon gained the powers of president upon the retirement of then president fazal Ellahi Chaudhary in 1978. This move made him most powerful person in the country. Zia was mainly known for bringing Islamization in political and overall country culture.
Proxy war in Afghanistan
Assuming the presidency in 1978 he played a major role in Soviet war in Afghanistan. He was fully supported by Saudi Arabia and United States of America which finally ended up in humiliating defeat & exit of Soviet forces from Afghan soil. General Zia and his ISI Chief Lt. General Hamid Gul fought the biggest proxy war in Afghanistan & are considered to be the chief architects of USSR defeat in Afghanistan.
During general Zia’s regime Pakistan was one of the fastest growing economies of south Asia. According to Pakistan bureau of Statistics he also holds the number 1 slot by achieving the highest GDP growth in country’s history till date. During his 11 years of long tenure he achieved growth of 5.88 which is highest among all military and civilian rulers also.
Throughout Zia’s regime Pakistan continued to develop its secret nuclear program. General Zia on Multiple occasions lied to United States and broke his promised to stop nuclear program. General Zia Promised United States not to produce highly enriched uranium above level of 5%. But he actually was secretly working on it and the progress was at its brisk speed. Zia considered India as biggest threat and Pakistan opted a very aggressive policy towards India during his 11 year term. It was Under General Zia that Pakistan launched their 1st Space Satellite Bader 1.
Zia Ul Haq was pure Islamist and his Islamic mind was reflected on various aspects of life. He banned Music videos and western culture on TV. Female hosts and newscasters were ordered to wear proper Dupatta during the programs.
On the morning of August 17, 1988 Zia Ul Haq went to see the demonstrations of US tank Abraham M1 in Bahawalpur in his C-130 Hercules. On his return after the smooth takeoff the plane suddenly crashed in a very suspicious manner raising the serious questions marks on the accident.
The crash proved very costly for Pakistan as the entire military elite onboard was killed. The notables killed in the crash was General Zia, Chairman join Chief of staff General Akhtar Abdul Rahman, his close friend Brigadier Siddique Malik, US ambassador to Pakistan Lewis Arnold Raphael, Herbert Wassom head of US aid mission to Pakistan. Various investigations were carried out to know the precise reasons of the crash but nothing concrete was found. Although US ambassador and some officials were onboard too but many believe US involvement in the sabotage. According to some theories Russian & Israel Agencies could be behind this conspiracy.
Zia Ul Haq’s funeral was one of the biggest in history of the country, according to some reports around 1.8 million people attended the last rituals including head of states and many senior officials. King Fahad Bin Abdul-Aziz declared Zia’s death as great loss to Muslims. Zia’s remains were buried in the premises of Faisal Masjid.
Written by Our Writer Usman Waheed Abbasi