SECOND MILITARY RULE, 1977-1988: Unlike the first three periods in Pakistan’s history, the fourth did not begin with a major social change But like the three periods before it, this period also ultimately witnessed a significant transformation of the society This change occurred gradually but left a deep and lasting impression By the time Zia ul-Haq left the scene-he was killed in an airplane crash that also claimed the lives of several senior officers of the army and that of the US ambassador to Islamabad-Pakistan had been set on the road towards Islamization It had lost much of its Western orientation and was considerably closer to the Muslim countries of West AsiaIn all probability, Zia did not assume control of the country intending to keep it under martial law for a long time and to remain in power himself for an extended period He became involved largely because of a fear that the failure to act on his part could bring about a serious rift within the ranks of the armed forces The ferocity with which the opposition had fought Bhutto after the elections of 1977 not only surprised the prime minister, it was also not anticipated by the army intelligence Called to the aid of civil authority, the army had to use great force against street agitators
With casualties mounting among the agitators, middle-ranking officers in the army began to question why they were being called upon to kill innocent people to protect an unpopular regime Zia listened and decided to move against Bhutto in order to prevent the army from being politicized Once Pakistan was placed under martial law, Zia took one step at a time Unlike Ayub Khan, he did not have a clear strategy for the future Zia belonged to the social group-urban, middle-class professionals-that had high expectations from Bhutto when he took over the reins of government Greatly disappointed with the way Bhutto had behaved in office, this class was at the forefront of the agitation that brought down the prime minister Zia believed that Bhutto’s term in office had created a serious divide between the rulers and the middle classes Ordinary citizens of Pakistan expected some decency from the people in power They had seen little of that from Bhutto and his close associates One way of closing the gap was to tell the people that the rulers were not much different from them, that they shared the same set of values Zia believed that this message could be communicated clearly if he explicitly followed what was expected from a Muslim leader
He would bring comfort to those who had been disillusioned by Bhutto by spearheading a movement to bring Islamic values to the country After all, Pakistan had been created for the Muslims of British India It was now necessary to turn this Muslim country into an Islamic stateZia’s program of Islamization moved on three fronts-social, political, and economic He was a practicing Muslim himself and set a personal example of piety and modesty that he expected his associates to follow His beliefs were the beliefs of the lower and middle classes of Pakistan He observed the basic tenets of Islam in a very public way Official meetings were interrupted to allow time for prayers Prayer times were announced on public radio and television Government working hours were adjusted to make it easier for people to fast during the month of Ramadan Zia encouraged government officials to go to haj and umrah; he performed the pilgrimage to Mecca himself a number of times
He expected that women would stay at home and not enter the workplaceZia sought to bring Islam into politics in several other ways Although he had decided not to abrogate the Constitution of 1973 and thus had not followed the example set by Ayub Khan and Yahya Khan, he brought changes in the political structure that were supposed to make it Islamic He nominated a majlis-e-shura (an assembly) to take the place of the National Assembly, which had been dissolved following the imposition of martial law The people nominated to the assembly were supposed to be good Muslims New clauses were inserted in the constitution to recognize in an explicit way that Pakistan was not just a country with the majority of its citizens belonging to the Islamic religion but was an Islamic state Among the changes incorporated was the creation of the Shariat Court as an adjunct to the Supreme Court, to ensure that all laws enacted by the legislature were Islamic If the citizens were troubled by some legislation on the grounds that it went against the teachings of Islam, they were encouraged to seek remedy from the Shariat CourtEfforts were also made to Islamize the economy The most significant changes introduced by the Zia regime in its Islamization efforts related to the banking and fiscal systems Commercial and investment banks were no longer permitted to charge interest on the loans made by them or to pay interest on the deposits kept with them
All depositors were treated as shareholders earning a return on their equity By loaning money the banks became partners in the business for which funds were provided The government introduced zakat, an Islamic tax on wealth, the proceeds from which were used to assist the “deserving” Zakat funds were managed by zakat committees that were responsible for identifying the “mustahiqeen,” the deserving Zakat funds were also allocated to madrassas (religious schools) The curriculum taught in these schools had to have the approval of boards of education set up for this purpose. Although Islam encourages private enterprise, the Zia administration made few efforts to reduce the size of the state inherited from Bhutto. A few small-scale enterprises that had been taken over by the Bhutto government were privatized but the role of the state remained large and intrusive. The tendencies detailed previously-the growth of the underground economy, increase in the levels of corruption, and the inability of the state to provide basic services to the people-continued during the Zia period.Apart from Islamization, the Zia government left one more enduring legacy. When, in December 1979, the Soviet Union sent its troops into Afghanistan to protect the communist regime established a few years earlier, Zia enthusiastically recruited Pakistan to the cause of ridding its neighbor of communism. In this it had the support of the United States and Saudi Arabia. Pakistan became the conduit for arms that began to flow from the West to the Afghan mujahideen (freedom fighters); its intelligence services, in particular the Interservices Intelligence (ISI), provided active support to the Afghans, and the freedom fighters were allowed to operate bases in Pakistani territory. The mujahideen won; the Soviet troops withdrew from Afghanistan in 1989 and two years later the weight of the military endeavor in Afghanistan contributed to the collapse of the Soviet Union. These successes notwithstanding, Pakistan paid a heavy price for its involvement in this conflict. For years to come, it had to suffer the consequences of its support to the mujahideen, which included the flow of arms into the country and the development of a drug trade. Zia’s emphasis on Islamization and his support for the war against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan brought an exceptionally militant Islam to Pakistan. “Sectarianism”-a violent confrontation between different sects of Islam-which arrived in Pakistan in the middle of the 1990s, was the direct consequence of the policies of President Zia ul-Haq. And as the world was to learn later, after the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 on the United States, some of the groups and many of the institutions Zia ul-Haq had promoted had aligned themselves closely with al Qaeda, an organization that was committed to removing all Western presence, in particular that of the United States, from the Muslim world.