Gen. Mohammed Zia ul-Haq established an unpopular U.S.-supported dictatorship after the ouster of Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in a military coup that Zia had a hand in. Zia ruled for 11 years. He came to power in the July 1977 coup code-named Operation Fairplay which occurred in the midst of widespread violence and upheaval. He put squabbling party leaders into "protective custody," declared martial law, and arrested Bhutto.

Zia initially promised to hold elections within a year. But that didn’t happen. He came from a middle class family and was a devout Muslim and believed to that Islamic and discipline offered the answer to Pakistan’s problems. He said, “the country was created in the name of Islam. If you can take away the ideology of an ideological state and nothing is left.” His government was propped up with financial aid from the United States that wanted to make sure that Pakistan supported the Americans while its neighbor Afghanistan battled with the Soviet Union.

General Zia was declared Pakistan’s third military president in September 1977. He expanded the role of Islamic values and institutions, replacing Pakistan's secular policies with an Islamic Sharia legal code, which increased religious influences on the civil service and the military. When the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979, he took a strong anticommunist stance and renewed close ties with the United States. He also improved relations with India, including normalization of trade, transport, and other nonsensitive areas.

Failure to reach a reconciliation after the disputed 1977 election in prompted Zia to depose Bhutto. Zia adapted the structure of Ayub Khan’s Basic Democracies to a new system of local governments and also adopted various measures to create an Islamic state. After the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979, Pakistan became the recipient of three million numerous Afghan refugees and large-scale foreign aid from the United States, China, Saudi Arabia, and others. The refugees and financial assistance continued until the war’s end in 1989. Zia officially terminated martial law in 1985 by assuming the presidency and reinstating the 1973 constitution. However, he also added the Eighth Amendment, which empowered the president to appoint and dismiss the prime minister and provincial governors and to dissolve the national and provincial legislatures. When Zia died in an airplane crash in August 1988, Benazir Bhutto—head of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and daughter of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto— became prime minister. Pakistan thus became the first Muslim country with a female head of government. [Source: Library of Congress, February 2005]

Early life

Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq was born into a Punjabi Arain family in Jalandhar, Punjab Province of British India on August 12, 1924. He was the second child of Muhammad Akbar, who worked in the administrative corps of the Army GHQ of India Command of British Armed Forces in Delhi and Simla, prior to the independence of India from British colonial rule in 1947. [Source: Wikipedia]

Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq went to school in Simla and received a BA in history at St. Stephen's College of the University of Delhi, from which he graduated with distinction in 1943. He attended to the Royal Indian Military Academy at Dehradun, graduating in 1945 as one of the last group of officers to be commissioned before the independence of India. During his university days he praised for his an extraordinary talent.

Zia married Shafiq Jahan who took the name Begum Shafiq Zia in 1950. She died in 1996. Zia is survived by two son — (Muhammad Ijaz-ul-Haq, (born 1953), who went into politics and became a cabinet minister in the government of Nawaz Sharif and Anwar-ul-Haq (born 1960) — and three daughters — Zain (born 1972), a special needs child, Rubina Saleem, who is married to a Pakistani banker and has been living in the United States since 1980, and Quratulain Zia who currently lives in London, and is married to Pakistani doctor, Adnan Majid.

Zia was commissioned in the British Indian Army in the Guides Cavalry in 1943 after graduating from the Officer Training School Mho. He fought against Japanese forces in Burma in World War II. After Pakistan gained its independence through a partition in 1947, Zia joined the newly formed Pakistan Army as a captain. He served in 13th Lancers and 6 Lancers. He was trained at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas in the United States during 1962–1964 at the US Army Command and General Staff College. After he returned to Pakistan he was in charge of Directing Staff (DS) at Command and Staff College, Quetta. During the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, Zia is said to have been the Assistant Quartermaster of the 101st Infantry Brigade.

Zia promoted as Lieutenant General and was appointed commander of the II Strike Corps at Multan in 1975. In 1976, Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto approved his three star general and then four star rank and he was named Chief of Army Staff. This promotion was ahead of a number of more senior officers. Bhutto viewed Zia as firmly religious and neutral politicallly. Zia replaced General Tikka Khan, who led violent crackdowns in Balochistan and Bangladesh.

Bhutto Ousted in a Military Coup

Zia replaced Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto after a disputed election in March 1977, which Bhutto’s People’s Party of Pakistan (PPP) won but the opposition said was rigged. Despite talks between Bhutto and opposition leaders, disorders persisted as a multitude of frustrations were vented. The army intervened on July 5, took all political leaders including Bhutto into custody, and proclaimed martial law. This bloodless military coup was led by Gen. Mohammed Zia ul-Haq. Bhutto was arrested and charged with conspiring to kill a political rival. He was deposed not long after he referred to Zia as "my monkey general" in public.

General Mohammad Zia-ul-Haq partially suspended the 1973 constitution and extended martial despite repeated broken promises to hold popular elections. According to the “Worldmark Encyclopedia of Nations”: “Zia-ul-Haq assumed the post of Chief Martial Law Administrator (CMLA). As calm returned to Pakistan, Zia promised elections for October 1977, but for the first of many times to come, he reversed himself before the event, arguing that he needed more time to set matters aright. And as the months passed, he began to assume more of the trappings of power, creating a cabinet-like Council of Advisers of made up of serving military officers and senior civil servants, chief among whom was longtime Defense Secretary, Ghulam Ishaq Khan, who became Finance Advisor and Zia's strong right arm. [Source: “Worldmark Encyclopedia of Nations”, Thomson Gale, 2007]

Zia initially released Bhutto and asserted that he could contest new elections scheduled for October 1977. However, after it became clear that Bhutto's popularity had survived his government, Zia postponed the elections and began criminal investigations of the senior PPP leadership. [Source: Countries of the World and Their Leaders Yearbook 2009, Gale]

In mid-1978, Zia brought Bhutto to trial for conspiracy to murder a political rival in which the rival's father was killed. Zia also expanded his "cabinet" with the addition of several PNA leaders as advisors, and, when the incumbent resigned, he assumed the added responsibilities (and title) of president. He allowed a return of limited political activity but put off elections scheduled for fall when he was unable to get agreement among the PNA parties on ground rules that would keep the PPP from returning to power. [Source: “Worldmark Encyclopedia of Nations”, Thomson Gale, 2007]

Bhutto's conspiracy conviction was upheld by the Supreme Court in March 1979. In the fall, and with the PNA now in disarray, Zia again scheduled, then postponed elections and restricted political activity. But he did hold "nonparty" polling for district and municipal councils, only to find at year's end confirmation of his concerns about PPP strength when PPP members, identifying themselves as "Friends of the People," showed continuing appeal among the electorate.

Zia Takes Power

General Zia ul-Haq, chief of the army staff, became chief martial law administrator in July 1977 and president in September 1978. He suspended the constitution, with the army's stated objective being to create an environment in which fair elections could be held. However, Bhutto, his primary opponent, was tried and sentenced to death. Zia took control of Pakistan by proclaiming martial law, ushering in the longest period of rule by a single leader in Pakistan's history. It ended only with his death in a still-unexplained airplane crash in 1988. President Fazal Elahi Chaudhry remained in office until his term expired in September 1978, when Zia assumed that office in addition to his role as chief martial law administrator. [Source: Peter Blood, Library of Congress, 1994 *]

In announcing his takeover of the government, Zia stated that he had taken action only in order to hold new elections for national and provincial assemblies within ninety days. Political parties were not banned, and nominations were filed for seats. The country expected that a new "free and fair" poll would take place. It did not. Zia canceled the elections because, he said, it was his responsibility first to carry out a program of "accountability"; he had "unexpectedly" found "irregularities" in the previous regime. As a result, a number of "white papers" on topics ranging from fraud in the 1977 elections, to abuses by the Federal Security Force, and to Bhutto's manipulation of the press were generated. The attacks on the Bhutto administration increased as time passed and culminated in the trial and the hanging in April 1979 of Bhutto for complicity in the murder of a political opponent. *

After elections were canceled by decree on March 1, 1978, Zia banned all political activity, although political parties were not banned. The same month, some 200 journalists were arrested, and a number of newspapers were shut down. Zia, however, maintained that there would be elections sometime in 1979. Members of some of the PNA parties, including the Jamaat-i-Islami and the Pakistan Muslim League, joined Zia's cabinet as he tried to give a civilian cast to his government. But suppression of the PPP continued, and at times Bhutto's widow, Nusrat, and his daughter, Benazir, were placed under house arrest or jailed. Elections for local bodies were held in September 1979 on a nonparty basis, a system Zia continued in the 1985 national and provincial elections. Many of those elected locally identified themselves as Awami Dost (friends of the people), a designation well known as a synonym for the PPP. Zia announced national and provincial elections for November 17 and 20, 1979, respectively, but these, too, were canceled. Many thought that the showing of the Awami Dost made him fear that a substantial number of PPP sympathizers would be elected. As further restrictions were placed on political activity, parties were also banned. *

Pakistan Under Zia and Martial Law

After Bhutto’s execution in April, 1979, Zia jailed 3,000 members of Bhutto’s party and workers. Fearful of a PPP victory, Zia banned political activity in October 1979, and postponed national elections. Also in 1979 Zia also passed into law the Hudood Ordinance, which provides for harsh Quranic punishments for violations of Shari a (Islamic law). In October 1980 he banned all political parties, ordered political party offices closed and ordered the seizure of all their funds, and didn’t tolerate any form of protest or dissent.

Zia restricted human rights. To thwart a unified opposition movement, Zia employed by divide and rule tactics similar to those used by the British. He allowed rival ethnic groups to form political parties and encouraged them to fight among one another. Radical Muhajirs student, for example, were allowed to form a political party in 1985 that battled local Sindhi groups and a mess of Karachi politics long after Zia was gone. He also required Supreme Court judges to take an oath of allegiance to the military government and made corrupt deals with the feudal oligarchy.

Zia cancelled the elections that had been promised and kept the country under martial law until 1985. During this time, Zia pressed the policy that Pakistan's survival and progress were dependent on building an Islamic state. A number of measures were taken to implement this policy, including the introduction of the Federal Shariat Court. A referendum held in 1984 confirmed Zia's policy of Islamization. In this referendum, a "yes" vote agreeing with Zia's Islamization policy was also to be interpreted as a vote for Zia to remain in office as president for another five years. According to the results reported by the government but contested by the opposition, Zia obtained 98 percent of total votes cast. [Source: Peter Blood, Library of Congress, 1994 *]

Zia's government also adapted Ayub's Basic Democracies structure to institute a new system of local government. Local councils were organized into tiers with union councils at the base, tehsil (subdistrict) councils above them, and zilla (district) councils at the apex. The system also included municipal committees and municipal corporations in the larger metropolitan centers. Councillors were elected for fouryear terms and could stand for reelection. The councils were designed to meet a need for grass-roots expression. Elections were conducted without formal political party affiliation or involvement. The councils were to concentrate on improving local development, including agricultural production, education, health, roads, and water supply.

Provincialism increased during Zia's tenure. He handled the problem of unrest in Balochistan more successfully than had Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. Zia used various schemes of economic development to assuage the Baloch and was successful to a high degree. The North-West Frontier Province, alarmed at the presence of Soviet troops next door after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979, remained relatively quiet. But the long-festering division between Sindhis and non-Sindhis exploded into violence in Sindh. More than 21,000 people were imprisoned after riots involving Sindhis and non-Sindis. There were also bombings, the lynching of policemen and over 1,000 deaths.

The muhajirs formed new organizations, the most significant-being the Refugee People's Movement (Muhajir Qaumi Mahaz). The incendiary tensions resulted not only from Sindhi-muhajir opposition but also from Sindhi fear of others who had moved into the province, including Baloch, Pakhtuns, and Punjabis. The fact that Sindhi was becoming the mother tongue of fewer and fewer people of Sindh was also resented. The violence escalated in the late 1980s to the extent that some compared Karachi and Hyderabad to the Beirut of that period. The growth of the illicit drug industry also added to the ethnic problem.

Military Reasserts Itself Under General Zia

Although General Zia asserted that this military intervention in politics would be brief and there would be new elections within ninety days, he had the longest tenure of any Pakistani ruler. Although he came to power more as a spokesman of military interests — a first among equals — and was thought to be a political naif, he was highly skilled in gathering power into his own hands. [Source: Peter Blood, Library of Congress, 1994 *]

On assuming power, Zia named himself chief martial law administrator and suspended parts of the 1973 constitution. (Zia assumed the presidency as well in September 1978.) Because it appeared that Bhutto, if freed and available as a candidate, might easily win the elections, Zia postponed them and undertook a campaign to discredit his predecessor politically. Zia's initial assumption of power was peaceful, and even his subsequent decision to allow Bhutto to be hanged after Bhutto's conviction as an accomplice to murder a political opponent, did not bring disturbances severe enough to threaten his regime. There was, however, continued opposition to military rule, and Zia was able to maintain himself in power only through a combination of political luck, skill, and authoritarianism.*

Although the military regime was often repressive, state violence was downplayed, and some observers believe that human rights conditions were better than during the Bhutto years. Zia also emphasized the corruption in political life and the need for reform. Ethnic resistance in Balochistan and the North-West Frontier Province was dealt with adroitly; only the ethnic Sindhis remained profoundly alienated (see Zia ul-Haq Under History). Zia also proved politically skillful in employing a strategy of continually holding out the promise of free elections when circumstances permitted, making political concessions that would strengthen rather than undermine his position and, especially after 1979, co-opting influential political groups among orthodox Muslims.)

The first years of Zia's tenure marked another low point in the security situation. The Iranian Revolution of 1979 overthrew one of Pakistan's staunchest friends, and the missionary zeal of its new Islamist regime did not bode well for Pakistan-Iran relations. The Saur Revolution (April Revolution) in Afghanistan in 1978 ousted a government that had become conciliatory in its relations with Pakistan, replacing it with a group that also preached radical change — this time, communist. When the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan in December 1979, Pakistan found itself in a security nightmare — for the first time, the Soviet Union posed a potentially immediate threat.*

Relations with the United States were also at a low point. The administration of President Jimmy Carter had adopted an extremely hard line on Pakistan's nuclear program and suspended all military and economic assistance in April 1979. In March 1979, after the Iranian Revolution, Pakistan withdrew from a moribund CENTO. Tensions with the United States peaked when a Pakistani mob burned the United States embassy in Islamabad in November 1979, killing two Americans and two Pakistani employees, in response to a BBC radio broadcast of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's speech, in which he falsely accused the United States of invading the Grand Mosque in Mecca. Although China remained a good friend, political scientist Robert G. Wirsing's assessment proved accurate: "Never before had Pakistan been quite so isolated and quite so threatened at the same time."

Opposition Against Zia

Opposition to martial law began slowly to coalesce in 1980 when most center and left parties and most of the PNA leadership joined with PPP leaders Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi and Nusrat Bhutto, Zulfikar's widow, to form the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy (MRD). The MRD demanded Zia's resignation, an end to martial law, new elections, and restoration of the 1973 Constitution, which existed before Zia's takeover. Zia responded by expanding the role of Islamic values and institutions in society and by sending 15,000 people to prison. Amnesty International described 14 detention center and detailed numerous accounts of torture and the execution of trade union leaders. . [Source: “Worldmark Encyclopedia of Nations”, Thomson Gale, 2007]

The PPP and other political parties were officially "defunct," when the MRD was formed in February 1981. The MRD demonstrated from time to time against Zia's government, especially in August 1983, but Zia was able to withstand its demands. Many of the leaders spent time in Nusrat Bhutto brought a suit protesting the martial law takeover. The Supreme Court ruled against her and invoked once again the "doctrine of necessity," permitting the regime to "perform all such acts and promulgate all measures, which [fall] within the scope of the law of necessity, including the power to amend the Constitution." After this ruling, Zia issued the Provisional Constitutional Order of 1980, which excluded all martial law actions from the jurisdiction of the courts. When the Quetta High Court ruled that this order was beyond the power of the martial law regime, the Provisional Constitutional Order of 1981 was issued. This order required all judges of the Supreme Court and high courts to take new oaths in which they swore to act in accordance with the orders. Several judges refused to do so and resigned. jail. [Source: Peter Blood, Library of Congress, 1994 *]

In February 1982, in an unsatisfactory response to the demand for elections, Zia created an appointed Majlis-i-Shoora (Council of Advisers), claiming that this was the pattern of Islamic law. The body was clearly unrepresentative and had no powers of legislation. It served merely as a tame debating body. *

Islamization in Pakistan Under General Zia

General Mohammad Ziaul-Haq (1924–1988) — the leader of Pakistan from 1978 to 1988 dismissed this first ever democratically elected government of Pakistan and hanged the former president Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in 1979. After this Zia sought political legitimacy from Islamic groups and other similar constituencies that were in the forefront of opposition to Bhutto.

In 1977 the government of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto outlawed alcohol and changed the "day off" from Sunday to Friday, but no substantive Islamic reform program was implemented prior to General Zia's Islamization program. Starting in February 1979, new penal measures based on Islamic principles of justice went into effect. These carried considerably greater implications for women than for men. A welfare and taxation system based on zakat and a profit-and-loss banking system were also established in accordance with Islamic prohibitions against usury. [Source: Peter Blood, Library of Congress, 1994 *]

Zia's Islamization program was pursued within a rather complicated ideological framework. His stance was in contrast of the popular culture, in which most people are "personally" very religious but not "publicly" religious. An unexpected outcome was that by relying on a policy grounded in Islam, the state fomented factionalism: by legislating what is Islamic and what is not, Islam itself could no longer provide unity because it was then being defined to exclude previously included groups. Disputes between Sunnis and Shia, ethnic disturbances in Karachi between Pashtuns and muhajirs, increased animosity toward Ahmadiyyas, and the revival of Punjab-Sindh tensions — can all be traced to the loss of Islam as a common vocabulary of public morality. More profoundly, in a move that reached into every home, the state had attempted to dictate a specific ideal image of women in Islamic society, an ideal that was largely antithetical to that existing in popular sentiment and in everyday life.*

According to “Worldmark Encyclopedia of Religious Practices”: General Zia established separate seats in the National Assembly for Muslims and non-Muslims; the 207 ordinary districts were reserved for Muslims, and non-Muslims could vote only for the 10 additional seats set aside for them. Zia ul-Haq became the patron of the fundamentalist Deobandi and Wahhabi movements, influenced Ahle Hadith political party. He also facilitated the Islamization of the Pakistani military and the Inter-Services Intelligence Agency (ISI), an organization that controlled Pakistan's foreign policy and supported Islamic insurgency in the Indian state of Kashmir, with the goal of incorporating Kashmir, with its Muslim majority, into Pakistan. Overall, Zia ul-Haq's Islamization policies not only had wide social impact in Pakistan but also attracted considerable foreign funding and led to the establishment of a militant Islamic infrastructure that was still in operation at the start of the twenty-first century. [Source:“Worldmark Encyclopedia of Religious Practices,” Thomson Gale, 2006]

According to the “English Encyclopedia of Modern Europe”: Another enduring legacy of the Zia-ul-Haq years was the rise in Shia-Sunni sectarian violence. The Iranian Revolution of 1979 had encouraged political activism among Pakistan's Shia minority (15 to 25 percent of the population), many of whom also opposed Zia-ul-Haq's Islamization as promoting a narrow Sunni vision incompatible with Shia interpretations. In response, the central government, with the help of the army and its intelligence wing and funding from Saudi Arabia and other countries in the Persian Gulf, bolstered a variety of Islamic institutions, especially madrasas (seminaries) propagating a particularly militant form of Sunni orthodoxy. Careering out of control in more recent times, sectarian violence claimed almost 1,300 lives in urban Pakistan alone between 1990 and 2002. And while, in the mid 1990s, the government made efforts to curb Sunni extremism at home, it was exported to Kashmir and Afghanistan. [Source: English Encyclopedia of Modern Europe: Europe Since 1914: Encyclopedia of the Age of War and Reconstruction, Thomson Gale, 2006]

Zia Makes Pakistan Into a Bona Fide Islamic Republic

Gen. Zia made Pakistan into an Islamic republic, reinstated traditional dress, repealed women's rights, restored the Islamic commercial code and intimated ordinary Pakistanis by imposing harsh Islamic law. More than 500 laws were changed to bring them in line with Islamic law. Among these were draconian blasphemy laws that carried a death sentence and laws that banned the charging of interest. Laws that ended equal rights for women were passed.

Zia promoted conservative officers to generals, assigned Muslim cleric to combat units, introduced Islamic teaching to the military academy, expanded the powers of the intelligence services and forged close ties with conservative Islamic states such as Saudi Arabia, which gave Pakistan money to build large mosques and Islamic schools.

Zia was not overly religious himself. He used conservative Islam as a way of unifying the country, restoring some dignity lost in the debacle with Bangladesh in 1971 and giving a religious mandate to the military and his role as its leader. He stop short of introducing Islam to political and economic policy and was a secularist in those matters.

Mohsin Hamid wrote in Smithsonian, under Zia “hard-eyed men with beards became commonplace in our cities as a more intolerant and narrow brand of Islam took hold among civil authorities, my fellow teenagers and I would be arrested just for going out on dates. radio and television began broadcasting news in Arabic, a language spoken by few Pakistanis. And my father, the a professor of economics at Punjab University, came home with stories about colleagues resigning after being held up at gunpoint for expressing views that were “un-Islamic.”

Islamist groups like Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Sipah-e-Siahaba were heavily supported by Zia who used them to harass civilian politicians and continued to have strong ties with the Pakistan intelligence services particularly through retired agents and army officers who worked in Afghanistan and at home.

Zia and Sharia (Islamic Law)

A number of measures were taken to make Pakistan an Islamic state including the introduction of the Federal Shariat Court. A referendum held in 1984 confirmed Zia's policy of Islamization. In this referendum, a "yes" vote agreeing with Zia's Islamization policy was also to be interpreted as a vote for Zia to remain in office as president for another five years. According to the results reported by the government but contested by the opposition, Zia obtained 98 percent of total votes cast. [Source: Peter Blood, Library of Congress, 1994]

In 1978 Zia announced that Pakistani law would be based on Nizam-i-Mustafa, one of the demands of the PNA in the 1977 election. This requirement meant that any laws passed by legislative bodies had to conform to Islamic law and any passed previously would be nullified if they were repugnant to Islamic law. Nizam-i-Mustafa raised several problems. Most Pakistanis are Sunni, but there is a substantial minority of Shia whose interpretation of Islamic law differs in some important aspects from that of the Sunnis. Zia's introduction of state collection of zakat was strongly protested by the Shia, and after they demonstrated in Islamabad, the rules were modified in 1981 for Shia adherents. There were also major differences in the views held by the ulama in the interpretation of what constituted nonconformity and repugnance in Islam.

In 1979 Zia decreed the establishment of shariat courts to try cases under Islamic law. A year later, Islamic punishments were assigned to various violations, including drinking alcoholic beverages, theft, prostitution, fornication, adultery, and bearing false witness. Zia also began a process for the eventual Islamization of the financial system aimed at "eliminating that which is forbidden and establishing that which is enjoined by Islam." Of special concern to Zia was the Islamic prohibition on interest or riba (sometimes translated as usury).

Women's groups feared that Zia would repeal the Family Laws Ordinance of 1961, but he did not. The Family Laws Ordinance provided women critical access to basic legal protection, including, among other things, the right to divorce, support, and inheritance, and it placed limitations on polygyny. Still, women found unfair the rules of evidence under Islamic law by which women frequently were found guilty of adultery or fornication when in fact they had been raped. They also opposed rules that in some cases equated the testimony of two women with that of one man.

After the 1985 election, two members of the Senate from the Jamaat-i-Islami introduced legislation to make the sharia the basic law of Pakistan, placing it above the constitution and other legislation. The bill also would have added the ulama to sharia courts and would have prohibited appeals from these courts from going to the Supreme Court. The bill did not pass in 1985, but after the dismissal of Prime Minister Junejo and the dissolution of the national assembly and provincial assemblies in 1988, Zia enacted the bill by ordinance. The ordinance died when it was not approved by Parliament during the first prime ministership of Benazir Bhutto (December 1988-August 1990), but a revised shariat bill was passed by the government of Nawaz Sharif (November 1990-July 1993) in May 1991.

Foreign Policy in Pakistan Under Zia

When Zia assumed power in mid-1977, Pakistan was out of the limelight and indeed was considered by some observers to be a political backwater. By the time of Zia's death in 1988, it had, because of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, become an important actor occupying a central position in the world arena. [Source: Peter Blood, Library of Congress, 1994 *]

Zia continued the process, begun by Bhutto, of opening Pakistan to the Islamic world and drew on Pakistan's Islamic, trade, and military ties to the Middle East. Military ties included stationing Pakistani troops in Saudi Arabia and training missions in several other countries. Remittances from Pakistanis employed as migrant workers in the Middle East, especially in the Persian Gulf area, increased during the Zia years and became an important factor in Pakistan's foreign-exchange holdings.

Zia played a prominent role in the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC). A Pakistani was secretary general of the OIC, and Zia served on committees concerning the status of Jerusalem and the settlement of the Iran-Iraq War (1980-88), neither of which were successful. At the 1984 summit at Casablanca, he played a key role in the readmission of Egypt to the OIC and, in doing so, reminded his fellow heads of government that the organization was one for the entire Muslim community and not only for Arab states.

Although Zulifqar Ali Bhutto had tried to redirect Pakistan's regional orientation toward West Asia and Zia continued this trend, the nation's geostrategic interests dictated a concentration on South Asia. Pakistan's foreign policy was very much centered on India. Less than two years after Zia's assumption of power, Congress, led by Indira Gandhi, was voted out of office and replaced by the Janata Party, whose foreign minister was Atal Behari Vajpayee of the Jana Sangh, long seen as anti-Pakistan. Nonetheless, relations between Pakistan and India may have reached their most cordial level during the almost three years Janata was in power. Vajpayee visited Pakistan in February 1978. There were exchanges on many issues, and agreements were signed on trade, cultural exchanges, and communications--but not on such key issues as Kashmir and nuclear development.

President Ziaur Rahman of Bangladesh proposed an organization for South Asian cooperation. Pakistan was at first reluctant, fearing Indian domination, but eventually agreed to join the group, along with Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) was formally inaugurated at a summit meeting in Dhaka in 1985. There have been some positive steps toward cooperation, and regular rotating summits are held, although often with some delays.

Pakistan Becomes a Frontline State After the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan in 1979

The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan made Pakistan a country of paramount geostrategic importance. In a matter of days, the United States declared Pakistan a "frontline state" against Soviet aggression and offered to reopen aid and military assistance deliveries. For the remainder of Zia's tenure, the United States generally ignored Pakistan's developing nuclear program. Other donors also rallied to Pakistan as it stood firm against Soviet blustering, hospitably received over 3 million Afghan refugees who poured across the borders, provided a conduit for weapons and other support, and gave a safe haven to the Afghan mujahidin. Pakistan's top national security agency, the army's Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, monitored the activities of and provided advice and support to the mujahidin, and commandos from the army's Special Services Group helped guide the operations inside Afghanistan. In the Muslim world, Pakistan increasingly assumed a leading role. As a long-term goal, Zia envisioned the emergence of an Islamic government in Kabul that would provide Pakistan with geostrategic depth, facilitate access to Muslim West Asia, and forswear a revision of the Pakistan-Afghanistan boundary. [Source: Peter Blood, Library of Congress, 1994 *]

Pakistan paid a price for its activities. The refugee burden, even if offset in part by foreign assistance, created dangerous pressures within Pakistani society. Afghan and Soviet forces conducted raids against mujahidin bases inside Pakistan, and a campaign of terror bombings and sabotage in Pakistan's cities, guided by Afghan intelligence agents, caused hundreds of casualties. In 1987 some 90 percent of the 777 terrorist incidents recorded worldwide took place in Pakistan. The actual danger to Pakistan, however, was probably never very great. There is no concrete evidence to support the revitalized "Great Game" argument that the Soviet invasion was a modern manifestation of Russia's historic drive to garner access to a warm water port and that it was but a first step on a road through Pakistan to the Arabian Sea. Nor was it likely that the Soviet Union would have conducted major military operations against Pakistan as long as Islamabad did not flaunt its support to the mujahidin.*

The Soviet invasion enabled Pakistan's army to present itself as the defender of the nation in times of trouble, making criticism of military rule almost unpatriotic. Zia used the situation to strengthen his grip on internal affairs by appealing to national unity and pointing to Pakistan's growing international stature. In addition, the substantial amounts of aid money coming from various sources boosted the economy and, in the short run at least, more than offset the costs of the refugees and rearming the military. Overall, the economy grew rapidly in the Zia years, in large part because of remittances from many Pakistanis who worked abroad.*

Zia's ability to obtain high levels of support and modern weaponry strengthened his position within the military establishment and enabled Pakistan once again to build up a credible military capability. Under the United States assistance program, Pakistan bought F-16 aircraft, upgraded M-48 tanks, Harpoon naval missiles, helicopters, and artillery, and received second-hand frigates on loan. In the four years after the invasion, Pakistan's armed forces grew by nearly 12 percent, from 428,000 to 478,000 persons. A substantial amount of the costs of modernization and expansion were covered by United States aid and financial contributions from Saudi Arabia and Persian Gulf countries.*

General Zia During the Soviet Occupation of Pakistan

Zia was extremely skillful in protecting his base in the military. To ensure control, he was concurrently chief of the army staff, chief martial law administrator, and president, and he carefully juggled senior military appointments. The satisfaction of the military was also enhanced by arrangements under which Pakistani service personnel were seconded to the armed forces of Persian Gulf countries, where emoluments were much more generous than in Pakistan. Retiring officers received generous benefits, sometimes including land allocations, and often found lucrative positions in government service or in parastatal economic enterprises. The assignment of serving officers to approximately 10 percent of the senior posts in the civilian administration also provided opportunities for economic gain, sometimes in ways that were ultimately harmful to the army's image of itself. For example, some military personnel reportedly participated in the rapidly growing narcotics business. [Source: Peter Blood, Library of Congress, 1994 *]

Zia had learned well the lesson of 1965 and was careful not to allow the nation to return to the status of a client state of the United States. Even as Pakistan faced the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, it kept that threat in perspective. Immediately after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979, Zia declined the Carter administration's assistance package offer of US$400 million as "peanuts." It was not until 1981 that Pakistan concluded an assistance agreement with the United States, which provided for US$3.2 billion over six years, divided equally between economic and military aid. This agreement was extended in 1986 to provide an additional US$4.0 billion over the next six years. Zia was careful to avoid the trappings of a formal alliance, preferring continued involvement in the Nonaligned Movement — which Pakistan joined in 1979 — and with the Islamic nations of the Middle East through his leading role in the Organization of the Islamic Conference.

Credit for the Soviet defeat in Afghanistan lay mainly with the mujahidin and their Pakistani mentors, but would hardly have come about had Mikhail S. Gorbachev not decided to cut back drastically on Soviet foreign entanglements. After tedious negotiations, an agreement was reached in April 1988, providing for the withdrawal of Soviet troops by February 15, 1989.*

Zia and India and Kashmir

Zia sought good relations with India. He visited India several times and met Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi (1984-89) at a cricket match between Pakistan and India. The term “Cricket Diplomacy”was used to describe the meeting. Relations however were marred by India’s assertion that Pakistan was supporting Sikh militants in he Punjab.

Rajiv Gandhi came to Islamabad in 1988 to attend a SAARC summit, the first visit of an Indian prime minister since 1960, when Nehru visited to sign the Indus Waters Treaty. Zia stopped briefly in New Delhi in December 1985 and in February 1987 visited again, having invited himself to see a cricket match between the two countries. Zia's estimation was that he and Rajiv could meet quite cordially but could not agree on substantive issues. [Source: Peter Blood, Library of Congress, 1994 *]

Zia's policies inevitably led to a worsening of relations with India, which was disturbed by the reentry of the United States into the South Asian security equation and by what India saw as the impetus to a new arms race. India responded with large-scale arms purchases of its own, primarily from the Soviet Union, which more than matched anything that the United States provided to Pakistan. Zia took considerable pains to reduce tensions and launched several peace initiatives, which New Delhi, however, failed to accept. Whether Zia saw his own efforts merely as diplomatic maneuvers was unclear, but they reflected a growing realization in Pakistan that unconstrained enmity with India was simply too dangerous and beyond Pakistan's means.

There were periods of considerable tension between Pakistan and India. In November 1986, India launched its largest maneuver ever, Operation Brass Tacks, menacingly close to the Pakistan border. The Pakistan Army responded with threatening countermovements, and in early 1987 there was serious concern that war might break out. The India-Pakistan hot line was brought into use, and Zia skillfully seized the initiative by traveling to India to view a cricket game, using the opportunity to meet with Indian leaders to defuse the situation.*

Zia and Kashmir

Among the major disputes between the two countries, only that over the Siachen Glacier, which is located in a remote area of northern Kashmir where boundaries are ill defined, has led to fighting in recent years. The two armies had been in desultory but very costly (primarily because of exposure to the elements) high-altitude combat there since 1984, when Indian forces moved into previously unoccupied territory at the extreme northern end of the Kashmir Line of Control. [Source: Peter Blood, Library of Congress, 1994 *]

In the late 1980s, India cancelled election results and dismissed the state government in Kashmir. This led to the beginning of an armed rebellion against Indian rule by Muslim militants in Kashmir, an Indian province that had been split uneasily between Indian and Pakistani influence since 1949. Indian repression and Pakistan’s support of the militants continue to threaten to spark new Indo-Pakistan conflict.

The dispute over the precise demarcation of the Line of Control in Kashmir at the Siachen Glacier heated up periodically and over time caused substantial casualties on both sides because of numerous small skirmishes and the extreme cold in the remote area. Also, in the 1986-87 winter the Indian army conducted Operation Brass Tacks, maneuvers close to the Pakistan border, and Pakistan mobilized its forces. However, the dangerous situation was defused, and no hostilities took place. India accused Pakistan of aiding Sikh insurgents in India's state of Punjab. Pakistan denied this accusation, but some people thought that Operation Brass Tacks might have been a means to strike at alleged bases in Pakistan's Punjab Province. Zia skillfully handled the diplomacy during the period of tension.

Zia and Pakistan’s Nuclear Weapons Program

Aside from Afghanistan, the most problematic element in Pakistan's security policy was the nuclear question. Zia inherited an ambitious program from Bhutto and continued to develop it, out of the realization that, despite Pakistan's newly acquired weaponry, it could never match India's conventional power and that India either had, or shortly could develop, its own nuclear weapons. Even after the invasion of Afghanistan, Pakistan almost exhausted United States tolerance, including bungled attempts to illegally acquire United States nuclear- relevant technology and a virtual public admission in 1987 by the head of Pakistan's nuclear program that the country had developed a weapon. As long as Pakistan remained vital to United States interests in Afghanistan, however, no action was taken to cut off United States support. Pakistani attempts to handle the problem bilaterally with India led nowhere, but a significant step was a nonformalized 1985 agreement that neither India nor Pakistan would attack the other's nuclear facilities. [Source: Peter Blood, Library of Congress, 1994 *]

The nuclear issue was of critical importance to both Pakistan and India. In 1974 India successfully tested a nuclear "device." Bhutto reacted strongly to this test and said Pakistan must develop its own "Islamic bomb." Zia thus inherited a pledge that for domestic reasons he could not discard, and he continued the development program. He asked India to agree to several steps to end this potential nuclear arms race on the subcontinent. One of these measures was the simultaneous signing of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. The second step was a joint agreement for inspection of all nuclear sites by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Pakistan also proposed a pact between the two countries to allow for mutual inspection of sites. And, finally, Pakistan proposed a South Asian nuclear-free zone. It appeared that Zia was looking for a way to terminate the costly Pakistani program. But in order to sell this idea in Pakistan, he required some concessions from India. Termination would also get him out of difficulties the program was causing with the United States, including the curtailment of aid in 1979. These proposals were still on the table in the early 1990s, and were supplemented by then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's call for a roundtable discussion among Pakistan, India, the United States, Russia, and China on nuclear weapons in South Asia.

Zia and the United States

The United States under the administration of Jimmy Carter did not welcome the displacement of Bhutto by Zia; representative government, human rights, and nuclear nonproliferation were also of concern to Carter. The execution of Bhutto only added to the United States displeasure with Zia and Pakistan. In March 1979, Pakistan — and Iran — terminated their membership in CENTO. [Source: Peter Blood, Library of Congress, 1994 *]

A number of United States laws, amendments to the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, applied to Pakistan and its program of nuclear weapons development. The 1976 Symington Amendment stipulated that economic assistance be terminated to any country that imported uranium enrichment technology. The Glenn Amendment of 1977 similarly called for an end to aid to countries that imported reprocessing technology--Pakistan had from France. United States economic assistance, except for food aid, was terminated under the Symington Amendment in April 1979. In 1985 the Solarz Amendment was added to prohibit aid to countries that attempt to import nuclear commodities from the United States. In the same year, the Pressler Amendment was passed; referring specifically to Pakistan, it said that if that nation possessed a nuclear device, aid would be suspended. Many of these amendments could be waived if the president declared that it was in the national interests of the United States to continue assistance.

Pakistan’s role in the world and Zia relationship with the West was dramatically altered after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Initially Zia resisted Western help. One of his most remembered quotes was when retorted "peanuts" in response to the U.S. offer of US$400 million after Afghanistan was invaded by Russia in 1979. But eventually Zia came around and Pakistan became a proxy base for aid to the Afghan rebels fighting the Soviets and a focal point of the Cold War battle between Communism and the West. Zia helped funnel US$9 billion in military aid from Saudi Arabia and the United States to mujahedin in Afghanistan. The United States wanted a degree of stability so they supported Zia, who became both a darling of the West and the Islamic world. He once addressed the United Nations, speaking on behalf of the entire Muslim world. In return, Pakistan received a six-year US$3.2 billion is package—half in cash, half in high-tech weapons. The money helped the economy. There was growth and some new jobs but most of they money went to the military and the poor was received relatively few benefits.

Zia and Afghanistan War

Afghanistan experienced a communist coup in 1978 and Soviet invasion in December 1979. Zia took a strong anticommunist stance and for this won praise in the Islamic world, the United Nations and the United States. Pakistan served as the primary conduit for U.S. aid to the Afghan resistance, resulting in large amounts of U.S. aid to Pakistan as well. The was in Afghanistan also helped to flood Pakistan with weapons and heroin. About 3.3 million Afghan refugees flooded into Pakistan during the Russian occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s. As of the 1990s more than a million had not returned home. The Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan in 1989.

U.S. President Jimmy Carter described Pakistan as a "frontline state" in the Cold War even though the military and economic aid he offered to Pakistan was dismissed as "peanuts." When the Ronald Reagan administration took office in January 1981, the level of assistance increased substantially. Presidential waivers for several of the amendments were required. The initial package from the United States was for US$3.2 billion over six years, equally divided between economic and military assistance. A separate arrangement was made for the purchase of forty F-16 fighter aircraft. In 1986 a follow-on program of assistance over a further period of six years was announced at a total of more than US$4 billion, of which 57 percent was economic aid and the rest military aid. [Source: Peter Blood, Library of Congress, 1994 *]

The Soviet Union, meanwhile, under its new leader, Mikhail S. Gorbachev, was reassessing its role in Afghanistan. Indirect "proximity" negotiations in Geneva under the auspices of the UN were going on between Afghanistan and Pakistan with the United States and the Soviet Union as observers. In April 1988, a series of agreements were signed among the United States, the Soviet Union, Pakistan, and Afghanistan that called for the withdrawal of Soviet forces by mid-February 1989. The withdrawal was completed on time.

Throughout the years of Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, relations between the United States and Pakistan were best characterized by close cooperation. Still, United States policy makers became increasingly concerned that Zia and his associates- -most notably, General Akhtar Abdur Rahman, then head of the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence--appeared to give preferential treatment to the Islamic fundamentalists, especially mujahidin leader Gulbaddin Hikmatyar. Other disagreements persisted, particularly over the failure of the Zia regime to convert to representative government. Documented Pakistani violations of human rights were another major issue; Pakistani involvement in narcotics trafficking was yet another. But the issue that after Zia's death led to another cutoff of aid was Pakistan's persistent drive toward nuclear development.

The event of the Zia period brought Pakistan to a leading position in world affairs. However, Pakistan's new visibility was closely connected to the supportive role it played for the anti- Soviet mujahidin in Afghanistan--and this deceased when the Soviet Union withdrew from Afghanistan.

Zia’s Difficultly Transitioning to Democracy

Zia showed a remarkable ability to keep himself in power, to promote Pakistan's international position, and to bring a modest degree of economic prosperity to Pakistan. His problem was how to devolve power. Beginning in 1985, a process of demilitarization of the regime was launched, and Zia was elected civilian president of Pakistan through some highly dubious maneuvering. In late 1985, he ended martial law and revised the 1973 constitution in ways that legitimized all actions taken by the martial law government since 1977 and strengthened his position as president. Mohammad Khan Junejo, whom Zia appointed prime minister in March 1985, managed to develop some degree of autonomy from Zia and persuaded him to allow political parties to reform; Junejo also watered down some of Zia's constitutional proposals, notably blocking the creation of the National Security Council that would have institutionalized the role of the military. [Source: Peter Blood, Library of Congress, 1994 *]

The experiment in controlled democracy floundered in May 1988, when Zia abruptly dismissed the Junejo government for reasons that were not altogether clear but may have involved Junejo's attempt to gain a voice in security matters. Zia promised new elections, but most observers assumed that he would once again postpone them rather than take the risk that Benazir Bhutto, Zulfiqar's daughter, who had returned from exile abroad to a tumultuous welcome in Pakistan in 1986, would come to power. Benazir's program included revenge for her father's death and punishment of Zia for staging the 1977 coup, which, under the 1973 constitution, rendered him liable to the death sentence. The crisis facing Pakistan resolved itself suddenly, however, when Zia was killed in a mysterious airplane crash in August 1988. Ghulam Ishaq Khan, a senior bureaucrat who was president of the Senate, succeeded to the presidency, and after consultations with the new chief of the army staff, General Mirza Aslam Beg, rather surprisingly decided to let the elections proceed as scheduled.*

“Elections” in 1984 and Under Zia

Pressure on Zia to hold elections mounted, and some of it came from overseas, including from the United States. In 1984 Zia announced that elections to legislative bodies would be held in 1985, and this time the schedule held. That year he announced the end of martial law, but only after amending the constitution so as to greatly strengthen his power as president. The first “election” held ended up being a rigged referendum.

Zia had cancelled the elections that had been promised and kept the country under martial law until 1985. During this time, Zia pressed the policy that Pakistan's survival and progress were dependent on building an Islamic state. A number of measures were taken to implement this policy, including the introduction of the Federal Shariat Court. A referendum held in December 1984 confirmed Zia's policy of Islamization. In this referendum, a "yes" vote agreeing with Zia's Islamization policy was also to be interpreted as a vote for Zia to remain in office as president for another five years. According to the results reported by the government but contested by the opposition, Zia obtained 98 percent of total votes cast. [Source: Peter Blood, Library of Congress, 1994 *]

The December 1984 national referendum was ostensibly an affirmation of Zia’s mandate to continue in office as president that focused on Pakistan's Islamization program. The electorate was asked simply if it felt the government was doing a good job of Islamizing the various social institutions of the state. Zia interpreted the positive results to mean that he had received the right to a new five-year term as head of state. There was, however, little doubt that the vote was rigged.

In February 1985 elections were held for both the national and the provincial assemblies. Political parties were not allowed to participate and the PPP, led by Benazir Bhutto (Zulfiqar's daughter), boycotted them. For the general election Zia decided to restore the separate electorates, abandoned under Ayub Khan. In the National Assembly, ten of the 217 directly elected seats were set aside for minorities: four each for Hindus and Christians and one each for Ahmadiyyas and "others," including Parsis, Sikhs, and Buddhists. There were also twenty indirectly elected seats reserved for women, although women could run for directly elected seats. Zia decided that parties would not be permitted to participate. Each candidate, therefore, would be an "independent."

The MRD and PPP boycotted the elections but the Islamist Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) party and part of the Pakistan Muslim League (PML) supported Zia. Deemed reasonably fair by most observers, the elections gave Zia a majority in the reconstituted National Assembly and left the opposition in further disarray. After the "election," which most PPP supporters boycotted, Zia announced the appointment of Mohammad Khan Junejo as prime minister, subject to a vote of confidence in the National Assembly. Junejo, a politician from Sindh and a minister in one of his earlier cabinets, took office on March 23, 1985. Zia issued the Revival of the Constitution of 1973 Order, which was a misnomer. The constitution was so vastly changed by various decrees that it was much different from the one enacted by the Bhutto regime. In the 1973 document, power had been in the hands of the prime minister; by 1985 it was in the hands of the president.

In 1985 Zia ended martial law but remained on as president. The amended 1973 constitution, included the controversial Eighth Amendment passed by the National Assembly in November 1985, which gave predominant political authority to the president. The president could appoint and dismiss the prime minister and the provincial governors and could dissolve both the national and the provincial assemblies.

Zia-Junejo Government in the Late 1980s

In December 1985, Zia ended martial law, as well as the state of emergency he had inherited from Zulfikar Bhutto, turning over day-to-day administration to Junejo. He also restored the amended 1973 constitution. As the Eighth Amendment to the constitution, these changes were approved by the National Assembly in October 1985. They remain a contentious issue today, having subsequently played a key role in institutional tension between incumbents of the presidency and the prime ministership. [Source: Countries of the World and Their Leaders Yearbook 2009, Gale]

A significant feature of the amended 1973 constitution insofar as the Islamization process was concerned, was that the Objectives Resolution, adopted by the first Constituent Assembly in 1949 and made a preamble to the 1956, 1962, and 1973 constitutions, was incorporated as a substantive part (Article 2- A) of this restored constitution. The Objectives Resolution provided, in part, that Pakistan would be a state "wherein the Muslims shall be enabled to order their lives in the individual and collective spheres in accordance with the teachings and requirements of Islam as set out in the Holy Quran and the Sunna."

The Eighth Amendment to the constitution confirmed and legalized all acts taken under martial law, including changes to the constitution. It affirmed the right of the president to appoint and dismiss the prime minister. With the amendment passed, Zia ended martial law in late 1985. Political parties were revived. In 1986 Junejo became president of a revived Pakistan Muslim League. The PPP, although self-excluded from the National Assembly, also resumed activity under the leadership of Benazir Bhutto.

The Zia-Junejo period lasted three years until Zia dismissed the prime minister and dissolved the National Assembly and the four provincial assemblies. Junejo was not able to accomplish all of Zia's agenda. For example, his government did not pass the sharia bill. It allowed the resumption of political parties, a step not welcomed by Zia, who saw parties as divisive in what should be a united Islamic community.

Zia cited incompetence, corruption, and failure to further the Islamization process as reasons for Juneho’s dismissal on May 29, 1988. In addition, Zia came to regard Junejo as too independent, and the two men clashed on a number of issues including differences on policy relating to Afghanistan and promotions in the armed services. The dismissal of Junejo and the dissolution of the national and provincial assemblies the next day, came as a surprise. In explaining his action mention the deterioration of law and order, and mismanagement of the economy. Another important reason for Junejo's dismissal was his interference in army promotions and his call for an investigation into an arsenal explosion near Islamabad. Civilians were not supposed to meddle in military affairs.

Zia’s Death and Elections in 1988

In 1988, Zia announced that new elections would be held in November, and in June he proclaimed the Shariah (Islamic law) supreme in Pakistan. Zia had procrastinated on calling new elections, which even his own version of the constitution required within ninety days. He finally set November 17, 1988, as the polling date for the National Assembly, with provincial elections three days later.

His reasons for the delay were the holy month of Muharram, which fell in August during the hot weather, and the lack of current electoral registrations (a point he blamed on Junejo). Despite the open operation of political parties, Zia indicated that elections would again be on a nonparty basis. Before elections took place, Zia was killed.

Zia was killed on August 17, 1988 in a mysterious plane crash near Bahawalpur, in the Punjab in the east of the country along with the chairman of the joint chiefs committee, the United States ambassador, and twenty-seven others. The Air Force plane exploded in mid-air soon after take off. The crash was never explained but sabotage is suspected. A joint United States- Pakistani committee investigating the accident later established that the crash was caused by "a criminal act of sabotage perpetrated in the aircraft."

After Zia was killed, army chief Gen. Aslam Beg presided over what were regarded as unusually free elections in 1988. After the crash court actions ended the nonparty basis for the elections, and parties were permitted to participate. A technicality — the failure to register as a political party — that would have prohibited the PPP from taking part was also voided. The election gave a plurality, not a majority, to the PPP. Its leader, Benazir Bhutto, was able to gain the assistance of other groups, and she was sworn in as prime minister on December 1, 1988, by acting President Ghulam Ishaq Khan. He in turn was elected to a five-year term as president by the National Assembly and the Senate.

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons

Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (, Official Gateway to the Government of Pakistan (, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Reuters, Associated Press, AFP, Wikipedia and various books, websites and other publications.

Last updated February 2022

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