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Pakistan's terror triangle: General Zia, Musharraf & the Hafiz Saeed connection

When Zia came to power in 1977, he used religion as a tool to gain people's trust and punished anyone who dared to speak ill of him.

Who was Zia-ul Haq?

Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq was a Pakistani four-star general who served as the 6th President of Pakistan from 1978 until his death in 1988.

Although people on his favor - usually right-wing Pakistanis - term him as "hero" who had saved people from a wider Soviet incursion in the South Asian region, the liberals blame him for the infusion of Islamic fundamentalism and militancy in their country today.

When Zia came to power in 1977, he used religion as a tool to gain people's trust and punished anyone who dared to speak ill of him. It was on his direction that the Hudood Laws came into existence.

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1st steps to Islamic systems

Haq encouraged a hard-line Islamic theory in his country and cracked down on liberal political groups and activists.

Soon after coming into power, he started moving the nation toward an Islamic-oriented political identity.

The constitution was amended to give Zia broad powers, the judiciary?s authority was reduced, and religious parties such as Jamaat e-Islami became ?pillars? of his leadership.

Later, the flames of jihad raised by the Soviet war led to the formation of Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and other such groups.

Image credit - Dawn

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The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan

Haq hoped the West to turn a blind eye to grave human rights violations in Pakistan, as he thought he was doing the US a favor by opposing its proxy war in Afghanistan in the 1980s.

The Afghan war of the 1980s changed the political scene of Pakistan forever. Islamabad announced to become a party to the war at the instruction of the West to achieve its own ulterior goals.

US President Ronald Reagan described Pakistan?s regime as a ?frontline? against communism and the Americans gave Zia $3.7 billion in economic aid and military assistance from 1978 to 1988, in addition to $2 billion channeled through the intelligence agency, ISI, to Afghan mujahideen groups.

Image credit - Dawn

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The seizing of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto

Haq seized power from Bhutto in a shocking coup on July 5, 1977, and became chief martial-law administrator while securing his position as Army chief of staff.

Haq strengthened his hold on the government after having the smart and popular Bhutto killed on charges of attempted murder in 1979.

It was Zulfikar Ali Bhutto who had called Afghan jihadists like Hekmatyar and Rabbani to Pakistan with the hope to destabilize the neighboring country.

General Haq took these policies forward and Benazir followed on similar lines when she came to power in 1988.


Image credit - Dawn

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Zia dies in plane crash

On August 17, 1988, General Zia-ul Haq, along with his top military officials and two American diplomats, died in an unknown yet suspicious plane crash in the eastern Pakistani city of Bahawalpur.

Since then, the general has remained a deeply polarizing figure in the Islamic country.

Image credit - Dawn

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Pervez Musharraf supports Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT)

Pervez Musharraf has said that he is banned terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba's (LeT) "biggest supporter" and that he is aware that they "like" him too.

Musharraf was quoted as saying Saeed "is involved in Kashmir" and that he "supports" that involvement.

He also agreed on being asked if he likes Hafiz Saeed, added that he has met him in the past.

Their looks may be different, however, Pervez Musharraf, many people believe, is following the well-worn path of Zia ul-Haq.

The Zia legacy includes patronage to Islamist Taliban and continued use of terrorism as means of state policy. Like Zia, Musharraf loves cricket and is not opposed to using the game to score diplomatic points off India.

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Delhi Parliment attack in 2001

On 13 December, 2001 - just after Musharraf became president - five heavily-armed terrorists, allegedly belonging to terror groups Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed, stormed the Parliament complex in New Delhi and opened fire indiscriminately.

The attack led to the death of 12 people, including one civilian.

Pakistan?s former military dictator Gen Pervez Musharraf says he mulled the use of nuclear weapons against India amid tensions following the 2001 terror attack on the Indian Parliament, but decided against doing so out of fear of retaliation.

At the time, Musharraf had publicly said that he would not rule out the possibility of using nuclear weapons.

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