Today marks 30 years since the Chief of Army Staff Ziaul Haq overthrew Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s government in a bloodless coup d’etat. Zia promised fair and free elections, and an end to the riots that had gripped the country, since the controversial general elections held earlier that year.
But that was not to be the case. Elections were held eight years later, and the barely 4 year old constitution was raped repeatedly.
A year later, Zia ushered in the era of Islamization, by announcing the establishment of Nizam e Islam, and the establishment of Shariat Courts. Laws such as the Hudood Ordinance and amputation as punishment for robbery were included in the constitution.
During the Afghan War, as a US-ally, he paved the way for the establishment of many a madressa and training schools, where militants were created. Among them were the infamous Osama Bin Laden, Mullah Omar and Aymar al-Zwahiri
Pakistani media also braved the axe of censorship. Newspapers were not allowed to report freely, journalists were flogged openly, and the editors had to rely on information from the notorious press notes.
The military’s reputation was tarred forever.
Many blame Zia for turning Pakistan from a modern Muslim state to a fundamentalist Islamic state.
The seeds of Zia’s legacy are now beginning to take fruit: Islamofascism, repression of media, women and minorities, and recently, the Lal Masjid.
Ziaul Haq died in a mysterious plane crash in August 1988.
Pakistan’s President and Chief of Army Staff is General Pervez Musharraf.