General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq was the one who enforced Martial Law for the third time in the brief history of Pakistan. Second child and eldest son of Muhammad Akram, a teacher in the British Army, Zia-ul-Haq was born on August 12, 1924, at Jalandhar.
After receiving his early education from Government High School Simla, he did his B. A. Honors from St. Stephen College, Delhi. He was commissioned in the British Army in 1943 and served in Burma, Malaya and Indonesia during World War II. When the war was over, he decided to join the armored corps. At the time of Independence, like most of the Muslim officers in the British Army, Zia-ul-Haq opted to join the Pakistan Army. As a Major he got an opportunity to do a training course in the Commander and Staff College of United States of America in 1963-64. During the 1965 War, he acted as the Assistant Quarter Master of 101 Infantry Division, which was posted at the Kiran Sector. He remained posted in Jordan from 1967 till 1970, where he was involved in training Jordon’s military. He was appointed as Corps Commander of Multan in 1975.
On April 1, 1976, in a surprise move the then Prime Minister of Pakistan, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, appointed Zia-ul-Haq as Chief of Army Staff, superseding five senior Generals. Bhutto probably wanted somebody as the head of the armed forces who would not prove to be a threat for him, and the best available option was the simple General who was apparently interested only in offering prayers and playing golf. However, history proved that General Zia-ul-Haq proved to be much smarter than Bhutto thought. When political tension reached its climax due to the deadlock between Bhutto and the leadership of Pakistan National Alliance on the issue of general elections, Zia-ul-Haq took advantage of the situation. On July 5, 1977, he carried out a bloodless coup overthrowing Bhutto’s government and