The Journey of Zia-ul-Haq: A Dictator Who Changed Pakistan Forever

Zia-ul-Haq was a history student, World War II veteran and Pakistan’s dictator in the 1980s.

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(This article was first published on 12 August 2017. It has been reposted from The Quint’s archives to mark the birth anniversary of Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq.)

Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq was a dictator, who served as Pakistan’s sixth President for 10 years till his death in 1988.

Zia was born in Jalandhar on 12 August 1924 and attended St Stephen’s College in Delhi University.

Post-partition, he was made the Army Chief of Pakistan by Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in 1976. In a military coup, he overthrew Bhutto and took over the country as its President.

Zia’s Pakistan was a strong US-ally, and was at the forefront of the Afghanistan war, fighting against the Soviet Union.

It was a plane ride that cost Zia his life when it exploded mid-air en route Islamabad from Bahawalpur on 17 August 1988. There were 31 other people onboard that flight, including the American Ambassadors to Pakistan and Zia’s top officials.

While there are many theories on what caused the plane crash, no one is convinced that it was an accident.

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