General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq (August 12, 1924 - August 17, 1988) was the ruler of Pakistan for twelve years (1977 to 1988). He was the third person in the short history of Pakistan to enforce a Martial Law in the country.

Zia-ul-Haq was born in Jalandhar on August 12, 1924. His father Muhammad Akram was a teacher in the British army.

He had his primary education in Simla and did his B. A. Honors from St. Stephen College, Delhi. He joined the British Army in 1943 and served many countries during World War II. After India and Pakistan achieved freedom, Zia-ul-Haq opted to join the Pakistan Army, after which he did a military training course in the Commander and Staff College of the United States of America in 1963-64.

For a few years, he was posted in Jordan, where he was involved in training the military forces in Jordan. In 1970, he came back to Pakistan and in 1976, he was appointed as the Chief Army Officer of Multan by the Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, superseding five senior Generals. The prime minister probably wanted a person whom he can trust as the head of the armed forces, and the best available option was the simple General who was always interested only in offering prayers and playing golf.

But Zia-ul-Haq proved to be much smarter than everyone thought of him. When the political tension between Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and the leadership of Pakistan National Alliance went high on the issue of general elections, Zia-ul-Haq took advantage of the situation and he lead a bloodless coup. On July 5, 1977, and enforced Martial Law in the country, owerthrowing Bhutto's gvernment.

Zia-ul-Haq made repeating promises to the Nation about a democratic election. In 1988, with Benazir Bhutto back in the country and his popularity at all time low, Zia was trapped in the most difficult situation of his political life. He tried to postpone the elections once again, as he always used to do. But before taking any decision, he died in an airplane crash on August 17, 1988. His death is still a controversial topic in Pakistan.

His remains are housed in a small shrine outside of the Faisal Mosque in Islamabad.


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