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ZIA UL-HAQ

ZIA UL-HAQ, GENERAL MUHAMMAD (1924-1988) Zia ul-Haq was born and educated at Jullundur and at St Stephen’s College in Delhi He joined the British Indian Army in 1943, and was trained in the Officer Training School After the establishment of Pakistan in 1947, he opted for service in the Pakistani army He received training in the United States, served as an advisor to the government of Jordan in 1974-1975, and was promoted to the rank of lieutenant general in 1975 He was commanding the army corps stationed in Multan when Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto appointed him chief of the army staff (COAS) In selecting Zia to succeed General Tikka Khan as the COAS, Bhutto was influenced by a number of factors: Zia had the reputation of being a professional soldier with little interest in politics He belonged to Jullundur, and not to one of the northern districts of Pakistan, which had been the favorite recruiting areas for the British Indian and Pakistani armies As such, he did not have a strong rank-and-file following in the army He was from the Arain (agricultural) caste, which had little representation in the army



From Bhutto’s perspective, this was a safe appointment Zia would not come in with a political agenda of his own; unlike General Muhammad Ayub Khan, he was not known to have strong political views He did not have strong community ties with the members of the army’s officer corps Ayub Khan and Yahya Khan were Pathans, and the Pathans had a strong presence in the armed forces There were few Arains in the army There were some other things about Zia’s background that were known to Bhutto, however, but to which he seems not to have attached much importance Among them was Zia’s belief that Islam presented Pakistan with a model of statecraft that it would do well to follow He was also known to be tenacious Following a long and bitter confrontation between Bhutto and the Pakistan National Alliance (PNA), a coalition formed to challenge the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), the army, under the leadership of General Zia, decided to intervene It assumed control on 5 July 1977 but did not abrogate the constitution as Generals Ayub Khan and Yahya Khan had done in 1958 and 1969, respectively The Constitution of 1973 was merely suspended

The army’s main objective for intervening was to create an environment in which fair general elections could be organized The army set a limit of ninety days for completion of this intervention, known as Operation Fairplay Zia and his fellow army commanders might have stuck to this schedule had Bhutto not responded with such belligerence toward the leadership of the armed forces Once allowed to address public meetings, he promised his followers that those who had engineered the military takeover in July would have to face the full legal consequences of their actions The Constitution of 1973 had been explicit in defining a coup d’etat against the government as a capital offense, punishable by death Bhutto made it absolutely clear that it was his intention to implement this provision once he was back in power Tried for the murder of a political opponent, he was convicted and sentenced to death by the Lahore High Court in the summer of 1978 The sentence was appealed but was upheld by the Supreme Court in early 1979 Bhutto refused to appeal to Zia for clemency and was hanged in Rawalpindi on 4 April 1979 Once the decision had been made to send Bhutto to the gallows, it was obvious that the army could not let his party, the Pakistan People’s Party, regain power The six-year period from 1979 to 1985 was devoted to restructuring the political system in such a way that the PPP and its new leader, Benazir Bhutto, would not be able to return to power

In pursuit of this objective, Zia was prepared to take many risks, including the cancellation of elections promised for November 1979, the organization of a national referendum in December 1984 to award him five more years as president, and the development of close ties with the political forces that totally opposed the PPP and Bhutto This strategy paid off The PPP decided to boycott the elections of 1985, which gave Zia the opportunity to put in place a civilian government that he could trust Thus began the Zia-Junejo political era on 23 March 1985, which lasted for more than three years Zia and Muhammad Khan Junejo were confident enough about their situation to lift martial law (Martial Law, Third) on 30 December 1985 But Zia decided to stay on as the COAS, thus ensuring a role for the military in the further evolution of the political experiment he had launched with the referendum of December 1984 The Zia-Junejo political experiment ended suddenly on 29 May 1988 when the president dismissed the prime minister and dissolved the National Assembly Extreme incompetence, growing corruption, and the failure to further the process of Islamization were offered by Zia as the reasons for his decision In actual fact, however, Zia had been long resentful of the efforts Junejo was making to distance himself from the president and many of his policies Zia’s death on 17 August 1988, in a plane crash near the city of Bahawalpur, destroyed the political model he had constructed with such care and diligence Among Zia’s abiding legacies were the formal introduction of Islam into the country’s economic and social structures, and the assistance provided to the Afghan mujahideen in their struggle against the Soviet Union

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