Berthe Pearsall

Berthe Pearsall

Published: 12 Sep 2023


When it comes to intriguing political figures in world history, Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq surely stands out. Serving as the sixth President of Pakistan from 1978 until his untimely death in 1988, Zia-ul-Haq left a lasting impact on the country and its policies. Known for his military background and conservative Islamic beliefs, Zia-ul-Haq implemented significant changes during his time in power.

In this article, we will delve into the life and legacy of Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, uncovering 19 intriguing facts about his rule. From his rise to power through a military coup to his controversial policies and international alliances, Zia-ul-Haq’s reign was marked by both accomplishments and controversies. Join us as we explore the fascinating details of this influential figure in Pakistani history.

Table of Contents

The Early Life of Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq

One of the most intriguing facts about Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq is that he was born on August 12, 1924, in Jalandhar, British India. This marked the beginning of a journey that would ultimately lead him to become the sixth President of Pakistan.

Zia-ul-Haq’s Role in the 1977 Military Coup

In 1977, Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq played a pivotal role in the military coup that ousted then-President Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto from power. This event marked a significant turning point in Pakistan’s history and set the stage for Zia-ul-Haq’s rise to power.

The Implementation of Islamic Law (Sharia) in Pakistan

One of the most controversial decisions made by Zia-ul-Haq during his presidency was the implementation of Islamic law, also known as Sharia, in Pakistan. This move aimed to assert the country’s Islamic identity but sparked debates and tensions within the society.

Zia-ul-Haq and the Afghan Soviet War

Under Zia-ul-Haq’s leadership, Pakistan played a crucial role in supporting the Afghan Mujahideen during the Soviet-Afghan War. This involvement not only shaped the regional dynamics but also had long-lasting implications for both Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Zia-ul-Haq’s Assassination

In another intriguing turn of events, Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq was killed in a mysterious plane crash on August 17, Investigations into the incident raised questions and theories about the circumstances surrounding his death.

The Enigma of Zia-ul-Haq’s Legacy

Even after his death, Zia-ul-Haq’s legacy continues to be a topic of debate and analysis. Some view him as a staunch defender of Pakistan’s interests and Islamic values, while others criticize his authoritarian approach and the impact of his policies on the country.

The Formation of the National Security Council

One of the significant institutional changes introduced by Zia-ul-Haq was the establishment of the National Security Council (NSC). This council played a crucial role in shaping Pakistan’s security policies and decision-making processes during his presidency.

Zia-ul-Haq’s Islamization Policies

During his tenure, Zia-ul-Haq initiated various policies aimed at Islamization, including the introduction of Islamic studies in educational curricula and the promotion of religious symbols and practices in public life.

Zia-ul-Haq’s Anti-Ahmadiyya Ordinance

In a controversial move, Zia-ul-Haq passed an ordinance that declared the Ahmadiyya community as non-Muslims, leading to state-sanctioned discrimination against this religious minority.

The Execution of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto

As a result of Zia-ul-Haq’s military coup, former Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was arrested and later executed in This event sparked domestic and international outcry and drew attention to the political climate in Pakistan.

Zia-ul-Haq’s Role in the Nuclear Program

During his presidency, Zia-ul-Haq oversaw the development of Pakistan’s nuclear program. This pursuit of nuclear capabilities brought both prestige and controversy to Pakistan on the global stage.

Impact on Women’s Rights

Zia-ul-Haq’s policies had a considerable impact on women’s rights in Pakistan. While some argue that his conservative measures were intended to uphold traditional values, others criticize the restrictions imposed on women’s social and political participation.

The Role of Hudood Ordinances

Zia-ul-Haq introduced the Hudood Ordinances in Pakistan, which encompassed laws related to theft, adultery, and rape. These ordinances were marked by controversial provisions and have been criticized for their impact on marginalized groups, particularly women.

Economic Policies under Zia-ul-Haq

Zia-ul-Haq implemented economic policies that aimed to strengthen Pakistan’s economy. However, these measures faced challenges, including the burden of external debt and the impact of global economic fluctuations.

The Legacy of Zia-ul-Haq’s Support for Afghan Refugees

Zia-ul-Haq’s government provided shelter and support to millions of Afghan refugees who fled their country during the Soviet-Afghan War. This act of humanitarianism left a lasting impact on the lives of these displaced individuals.

The Controversy Surrounding Zia-ul-Haq’s Death

The circumstances surrounding Zia-ul-Haq’s death remain a subject of speculation and controversy. Various theories and conspiracy theories have emerged, adding to the intrigue surrounding the event.

International Relations under Zia-ul-Haq

Zia-ul-Haq’s presidency witnessed significant developments in Pakistan’s international relations. He navigated complex relationships with countries such as the United States, India, and the Soviet Union, balancing regional and global interests.

Reconciliation with Bhutto’s Family

In a surprising turn of events, Zia-ul-Haq’s government reached a reconciliation agreement with the Bhutto family, allowing the late Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s daughter, Benazir Bhutto, to return to Pakistan and participate in politics.

The Human Rights Record of Zia-ul-Haq’s Regime

Zia-ul-Haq’s regime was marked by concerns over human rights violations, including reports of torture, disappearances, and restrictions on freedom of expression. These issues have since become subjects of investigation and scrutiny.


Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq was a controversial figure who played a significant role in Pakistan’s history. His rule from 1977 to 1988 was marked by both accomplishments and controversies. During his tenure, Zia implemented several measures such as Islamization of laws, strengthening the military, and pursuing a conservative foreign policy. However, his regime was also marred by allegations of human rights abuses, censorship, and corruption.

Despite the controversies, Zia-ul-Haq’s impact on Pakistan cannot be denied. His policies had a lasting effect on the country’s political, social, and cultural landscape. Even after his death, Zia’s legacy continues to shape Pakistan’s trajectory. Whether viewed as a transformative leader or a dictator, Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq remains an intriguing and complex figure in Pakistani history.


Q: Was Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq the first military dictator of Pakistan?

A: No, Zia-ul-Haq was not the first military dictator of Pakistan. He came into power after a military coup and suspended the civilian government led by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. However, there were previous military dictators in Pakistan’s history, including Ayub Khan and Yahya Khan.

Q: What were some of the controversial policies implemented by Zia-ul-Haq?

A: Zia-ul-Haq’s controversial policies included the Islamization of laws, such as the introduction of Hudood Ordinance, which faced criticism for its impact on women’s rights. He also maintained a strict censorship policy, limiting freedom of speech and press.

Q: Did Zia-ul-Haq’s regime face any opposition?

A: Yes, Zia-ul-Haq’s regime faced opposition from various groups, including political parties, activists, and religious organizations. The Movement for the Restoration of Democracy (MRD) was one of the significant opposition movements during his rule.

Q: How did Zia-ul-Haq’s rule impact the economy of Pakistan?

A: Zia’s economic policies focused on promoting self-reliance and reducing dependence on foreign aid. However, his policies did not lead to significant economic progress, and the country faced economic challenges during his tenure.

Q: How did Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq’s rule come to an end?

A: Zia-ul-Haq’s rule came to an end in 1988 when he died in a plane crash. The circumstances surrounding his death have remained a subject of debate and conspiracy theories.