On 17 August 1988 in Pakistan, Pakistani President Zia-ul-Haq died in a plane crash, along with the ...
On 17 August 1988 in Pakistan, Pakistani President Zia-ul-Haq died in a plane crash, along with the US Ambassador and several high-ranking military officials. It was ruled an accident, but there are many conspiracy theories about the death of Zia-ul-Haq.
Mohammad Zia-ul-Haq (Punjabi, Urdu: محمد ضياء الحق; 12 August 1924 -- 17 August 1988), was the sixth President of Pakistan from 1978 until his death in 1988, having declared martial law for the third time in the country's history in 1977. He was Pakistan's longest-serving head of state, ruling eleven years.
Zia saw action in World War II as a British Indian Army officer, before opting for Pakistan in 1947 and fighting in the war against India in 1965. In 1970, he led the Pakistani training mission in Jordan, proving instrumental to putting down the Black September insurgency against King Hussein. In recognition, Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto appointed Zia Chief of Army Staff in 1976, over several senior officers. Following increasing civil disorder, Zia deposed Bhutto and declared martial law over the country in 1977. Bhutto was controversially tried and executed by the Supreme Court less than two years later, for authorising the murder of a political opponent.
Assuming the presidency in 1978, Zia played a major role in the Soviet war in neighbouring Afghanistan. Aided by the United States and Saudi Arabia, Zia coordinated the Afghan mujahideen against the Soviet occupation throughout the 1980s. This culminated in the USSR's defeat and withdrawal in 1989, but also led to the proliferation of millions of refugees, with heroin and weaponry into Pakistan's frontier province. Zia also bolstered ties with China and emphasised Pakistan's role in the Islamic world, while relations with India worsened amid the Siachen conflict and accusations that Pakistan was aiding the Khalistan movement. Domestically, Zia passed broad-ranging legislation as part of Pakistan's Islamization, acts criticised for fomenting religious intolerance. He also escalated Pakistan's atomic bomb project, and instituted industrialisation and deregulation, helping Pakistan's economy become among the fastest-growing in South Asia. Averaged over Zia's rule, GDP growth was the highest in history.
After lifting martial law and holding partyless elections in 1985, Zia appointed Muhammad Khan Junejo Prime Minister but accumulated even more presidential powers via the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution. After Junejo signed the Geneva Accords in 1988 against Zia's wishes, and called for an enquiry into the Ojhri Camp disaster, Zia dismissed Junejo's government and announced fresh elections in November 1988. But he was killed along with several of his top generals and two American diplomats in a suspicious air crash near Bahawalpur on 17 August 1988. Zia is a polarising figure in Pakistan, credited by some for preventing wider Soviet incursions into the region as well as economic prosperity, but decried for weakening democratic institutions and passing laws encouraging Islamic fundamentalism.