Zia ul-Haq Mohammad (1924-1988) was a career soldier from a middle class Punjabi Muslim family, and became army chief of staff 1976.
He led the military coup against Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in 1977 and became president in 1978. Zia introduced a fundamentalist Islamic regime and restricted political activity.
Zia's opposition to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 drew support from the USA, but his refusal to commute the death sentence imposed on Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was widely condemned. He lifted martial law in 1985. The US Central Intelligence Agency is rumoured to have engineered his death.
Why is Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq famous?
Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq was a Pakistani general, in power from 1977 until his assassination.