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General Zia-Assessed 20 Years after 17 August 1988

General Zia-Assessed 20 Years after 17 August 1988

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Published by: Strategicus Publications on Nov 01, 2009
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02/12/2013

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17 August 1988Agha AminAugust 17, 2008Tags: Zia ul Haq , army , dictator , PakistanIt was a hot summer day when a C 130 military transporter crashed almost right on the site of a pre 1947 Hindu Shamshan Ghat on the Sutlej River near Bahawalpur. Pakistan’s political equation was transformed within flash of a second. GeneralZiaul Haq’s jaundiced shadow was removed from Pakistan’sbody politics by divine design and tangible endeavour of some mortals!When Zia was suddenly promoted the army chief in 1976 he was an unknown man in the army. With no war record and known for no professional brilliance , Zia was agift of the civilian prime minister Z.A Bhutto to the Pakistan Army. Late Maulana Kausar Niazi found an American connection in this dark horse when he stated that the US Ambassaor told the Maulana many days before his actual promotion thata man called Zia may be the army chief.Of humble background Zia did not see any action in any of Pakistan’s wars except having been master mind of a dirty war of Jordan’s punitive action called Black September against the Palestenians.His immediate superior Major General Nawazish found him unsuitable to be a commissioned officer but he survived by sheer luck ,begging General Gul Hassan to save him .The infamous arbitrary retirements of more than 15 general officers by intrigue of General Gul Hassan and Z.A Bhutto inDecember 1971 created an enormous gap in the army in Pakistan and this helped Zia in quick promotion to the rank of major general in 1972.A reliable army sourceGeneral Chishti states that while posted in Multan Zia practiced extreme sycophancy cultivating PPP stalwarts like Sahibzada Faruq, Hamid Raza Gillani, Sadiq Hussain Qureshi and Sajjad Hussain Qureshi.Chishti thought that the CIA may havesuccessfully cultivated Zia much earlier in 1950s when Zia attended a military course in USA.Brigadier Z.A Khan remembers him as selling eggs as a colonel in mid 60s in Multan.Ironically the army never recommended Zia for promotion to the rank of COAS. General Chishti then the Military Secretary and directly responsible for promotionboards remembers that Zia was seventh in order of seniority in all lieutenant generals.The army chief Tikka did not even include Zia in the list of potential candidates and had recommended Lieutenant General Akbar Khan in an official letteraddressed to Mr Z.A Bhutto for the job. Lieutenant General Sharif the seniormost was not recommended by Tikka in this letter.Generals Aftab and Azmat Baksh Awan the second and fourth in seniority according to Chishti were regarded as unsuitable for lack of ability by Tikka. Lieutenant General Ghulam Jillani Khan sixthin seniority and the then DG ISI was considered unsuitable for lack of formation command experience. Lieutenant Generals Malik Abdul Majeed and Zia ul Haq sixth and seventh in seniority were not even considered by the army high command tobe even fit to be considered as they were newly promoted and had very little higher formation command experience.Zia however had ingratiated himself to Z.A Bhutto by his extreme servility and sycophancy. General Gul Hassan in his memoirs ascribes Zia’s promotion to the factthat he took insults,snubs, and other similar indignities from Bhutto,whome he regarded as his his creator with inborn grace !General Zia’s tenure as army chief did not improve the Pakistan Army . Not at least in the period 1981 to 1988 when I saw it as a cadet and officer.Pakistan was transformed into a frontline state in the Soviet Afghan War not because of any religious reasons but simply because Pakistan’s military junta lacked legitimacy and

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