In praise of Zia

Published: August 18, 2012
The writer is a columnist. He is also a former editor of the Mumbai-based English newspaper Mid Day and the Gujarati paper Divya Bhaskar

The writer is a columnist. He is also a former editor of the Mumbai-based English newspaper Mid Day and the Gujarati paper Divya Bhaskar [email protected]

This past week marked two anniversaries, that of Pakistan’s birth and that of President Ziaul Haq’s death.

Zia is a strange figure. Reading about him in Pakistan’s English press one would think that he is hated by most Pakistanis. Daily Times, in its editorial of August 15 said: “So-called Islamisation, starting from Zia’s era, has reduced the state and society to being entrapped by religious intolerance and lack of direction.”

This is typical and Zia tends to pick up the blame for conditions in Pakistan’s society.

But the fact is that the Hudood laws remain on the books. Pakistan Studies and Islamiat also remain in textbooks.

Why? The answer is that Ziaul Haq gave Pakistan what it wanted.

Liaquat Ali Khan and the Muslim League gifted Pakistan the Objectives Resolution, committing to align law with Sharia. Ayub Khan wrote the law restricting non-Muslims from becoming president. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto stopped non-Muslims from becoming prime minister. His law on Ahmadis need not be referred to other than to remind readers that it was both democratic and unanimous. All elected and unelected Pakistani leaders have generally moved in the direction that Zia also did. But he did it less hypocritically than others.

After his death, a hagiography (“Shaheed-ul-Islam Muhammad Ziaul Haq”) was published by Zia’s friends. The contribution from Nawaz Sharif, which I suspect was written by Husain Haqqani, praises Zia for being like Allama Iqbal. Zia believed in the reconstruction of religious thought, writes Sharif, though I think that’s doubtful. In the same book, Zahid Malik writes that though seen as a nuclear hawk, Zia was willing to sign the non-proliferation treaty (NPT). His conditions were: 1) South Asia be declared a nuclear-free zone, 2) India and Pakistan sign simultaneously, 3) The two also sign a bilateral non-proliferation treaty, 4) The two allow international inspectors to check each facility and 5) The two renounce the use of nuclear weapons.

I think this was a wise proposal, even if Zia was saying this to escape the United States’ pressure on signing the NPT. If India had accepted, we would have a less unstable subcontinent today.

The other thing that occurs to me is that the problems India faced in Kashmir with the rise of the mujahideen, came in the first reign of Benazir Bhutto. Zia did not indulge in that sort of mischief and Indians exaggerate the support of Pakistan to the Sikh separatist movement of the 1980s. Zia was friendly towards India and surprised the world by announcing he was coming to Indira Gandhi’s funeral. He is the man who invented cricket diplomacy, springing it on Rajiv Gandhi.

Zia may be disliked by English editorial writers but 10 lakh people came to Zia’s funeral, wrote his deputy, General Khalid Mahmud Arif, showing his popularity.

Zia reminds me of Aurangzeb. Zia had his rival Bhutto executed judicially for the murder of a complainant’s father, exactly like Aurangzeb did away with Murad Baksh.

The slogan for the emperor was “Alamgir, zinda pir“. Zia was “mard-e-momin, mard-e-haq“.

Both men had a false modesty, made much of being reluctant to wield power (see Aurangzeb’s letters to Shah Jahan), and had a general dislike of Shias. Newsweek in its obituary said Zia was “incorruptible”. Another similarity.

His court chronicler Saqi Must’ad Khan said Aurangzeb’s bedtime reading was Imam Ghazali. Zia read Maudoodi and not much else. General Arif says Zia “could not get down to reading bureaucratic situation reports and files”.

The big similarity is of course the laws they introduced. Jaziya, the penalty for being born Hindu, went after Aurangzeb died because the Syed brothers of Barha were not bigots. The laws of Zia will remain longer.

Fundamentalists have their softer side. Aurangzeb liked quality chinaware. He liked woodwind instruments played with the pakhavaj more than vocal music. But because the former was haram, he gave up listening to all music entirely.

Zia was fond of Bollywood movies and Hindi music, and played squash, tennis and billiards.

The words ‘silent majority’ are often used when Pakistanis writing in English refer to Zia’s laws or their fallout, such as the shooting of Salmaan Taseer.

The truth is that the laws that remain on the book unchanged through dictatorial and democratic governments are there because they are popular.

There is no silent majority in Pakistan, only a minority that doesn’t grasp reality.

The Quaid-e-Azam and Ziaul Haq were two leaders who knew what Muslims wanted and gave it to them.

Eid mubarak to all readers of The Express Tribune.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 19th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (143)

  • faraz
    Aug 18, 2012 - 11:50PM

    Another similarity. Aurangzeb triggered 27 year long Marhatta insurgency; insurgency led by the children of Zia has completed a decade


  • I read it too...
    Aug 18, 2012 - 11:54PM

    A great read…! :)


  • Salim
    Aug 18, 2012 - 11:55PM

    Zia was the worst thing that happened to Pakistan.We are reaping what he sowed in the form of militants and terrorists.Recommend

  • Falcon
    Aug 18, 2012 - 11:57PM

    Aakar – I love the fact that you have done your homework on Zia. In my humble view (as well as many other observers like Anatol Lieven), Pakistanis tend to exaggerate Zia’s contribution to the mess we are in. Many people preceding him and succeeding him including us have contributed to the problems of the nation. However, I would say that you drawing comparison in the last line between Zia and Quaid-e-Azam was an abrupt ending without any supporting evidence whatsoever. If this was your punch line, I am sorry to say that it was in bad taste.


  • unbeliever
    Aug 18, 2012 - 11:58PM

    phew! after reading your article, it appears that i always thought like that, but couldn’t give words to my thoughts. however, you brilliantly put all such confusions to rest, and have given words to my thoughts. what you said, is deep and needs deliberation. thank you.

    also, by comparing aurangzeb to zia, do you mean to slavishly suggest, that pakistan is on the same path, that was followed by mughal empir after aurangzeb: decline.


  • Shahbaz
    Aug 18, 2012 - 11:59PM

    Amazing read. Very rarely ET publishes such great articles.


  • Dr Khan
    Aug 19, 2012 - 12:00AM

    To me reading nothing but Maudoodi shows a very rigid and limited mind. Economics – dull and boring, there are more important things in life. Science – beyond my IQ. Philosophy – I am not contemplative person. What a person I could not have such a person has a friend.


  • bashir
    Aug 19, 2012 - 12:01AM

    Finally. Zia-ul-Haq’s funeral was attended by millions of humanity his economic reform brought growth to highs pak had never seen, and he was a man who understood that pakistan was a country for muslims.


  • omer
    Aug 19, 2012 - 12:06AM

    a very thought provoking article …. every leader did what thy think is ryt not knowing the consequnces nation will ace after his death .. msy Allah bless us with right leaders who have vision of Quaid to make Pak a better country


  • sid
    Aug 19, 2012 - 12:36AM

    Not 27 years………….Infact Marathas(Taliban) overthrew the Mughal empire(pak)………(but lost in panipat to Afghans)….The delhi sultans became protector of Marathas till the british (US)arrived in the scene…….

    Auragzeb(zia) himself was almost killed…………Rajputs(Baloch) began to rebel against Mughals……….The policies of Aurangzeb(like Jaziya,suspension of Rajput generals etc) were pivitol to the fall of the Mughal empire as his successors couldnot control the situation……….

    one can draw a link……………


  • Mujhe hay hukm e azaan
    Aug 19, 2012 - 12:41AM

    I am not afraid to say dear author that you have been more honest than most of the Op-ed writers in ET
    If I had been a king I would have given you a diamond studded bracelet.

  • Arifq
    Aug 19, 2012 - 12:59AM

    Dear Patel Sahib, Zia introduced legalized Jihad, destroyed the Pakistan Jinnah envisioned and sold the country’s soul to the Saudi Wahabi traditions. Pakistan will never be able to find peace and tranquility knowing that Zia’s legacy is buried in Islamabad, we need to remove Zia vestiges with haste.


  • zia
    Aug 19, 2012 - 1:02AM

    ”The truth is that the laws that remain on the book unchanged through dictatorial and democratic governments are there because they are popular.” – This argument is wholly flawed and lacks any kind of merit. One of the reasons why a law remains unchanged through dictatorial and democratic governments could be its ‘popularity’ as the author has suggested but this does not mean it is only because of its intact popularity that it has been unchanged. Corruption is another reason, vested interest is another, bad governance is another ! There could be a thousand reasons why laws are unchanged. Basing an argument on speculation alone carries no merit worthy of acknowledgement.


  • Akshay, India
    Aug 19, 2012 - 1:05AM

    Absolutely true. Muslims of the subcontinent have an intolerance.Recommend

  • F
    Aug 19, 2012 - 1:07AM

    The truth is that these laws, that the so called liberals “detest” in the English media, have popular support and remain on the books. Very courageously asserted by the author. These discriminatory laws were constitutionalized by elected leaders and dictators alike. There was no legitimate debate then as there is none today amongst the masses to make Pakistan a tolerant society accepting of all it’s citizens. Soon its foreign policy will be what its citizens desire – openly anti-America.


  • sabk
    Aug 19, 2012 - 1:12AM

    he made our people suffer.Recommend

  • Top Cat
    Aug 19, 2012 - 1:23AM

    He gave Pakistanis what they wanted, but it was also his reign where the religious parties became strongly deep rooted in our politics. People of Pakistan want Islam but we don’t wanted Islamic parties because Islamic parties will easily sell Islam to gain votes resulting in the radicalization of society. Moreover, don’t forget it was his reign where the influence of Saudi Arabia became institutionalized spreading wahabism all over Pakistan… the doctrine of Taliban and Al Qaeda…


  • suraj
    Aug 19, 2012 - 1:27AM

    “There is no silent majority in Pakistan, only a minority that doesn’t grasp reality.”*



  • Domlurian
    Aug 19, 2012 - 1:31AM

    Excellent article! The message is very subtle, if you are smart enough to grasp it.


  • mr. righty rightist
    Aug 19, 2012 - 1:33AM

    It’s true.

    Zia only gave what muslims wanted. In other words the current failure of Pakistan is because of 180 million failed men and women of Pakistan. Not because of Zia.

    If a 11 year old xian girl (doesn’t matter if she is mentally challenged or not) is beaten in Pakistan, it’s not because of Zia, it’s because of 180 million failures of Pakistan.


  • 1984
    Aug 19, 2012 - 1:39AM

    Its strange that many Pakistanis adore Aurangzeb among all Mughal Kings…

    though not surprising that he was a bigot who killed his brothers,imprisoned his own father and spread rumors of an alleged incestous relationship of his own sister….

    I hope Pakistani textbooks could revise their history books and tell the true face of Aurangzeb


  • pmbm
    Aug 19, 2012 - 1:43AM

    Finally Zia finds an admirer, better late than never.


  • Indian Wisdom
    Aug 19, 2012 - 1:49AM

    “There is no silent majority in Pakistan, only a minority that doesn’t grasp reality”- and this is the conclusion. Well said!!


  • Concerned_Indian
    Aug 19, 2012 - 1:52AM

    Hahaha! Well done Aakar….Now you have claimed that muslims are intolerant and extremists by nature and people should stop blaming leaders for their intolerance. Its like saying all german citizens were responsible for the soviet pow and jewish genocide, not just the nazis…..well done…


  • Concerned
    Aug 19, 2012 - 1:54AM

    And what a wonderful country this turned out to be, eh? A model for everyone to follow.


  • Raj
    Aug 19, 2012 - 2:10AM

    I think this was a wise proposal, even if Zia was saying this to escape the United States’ pressure on signing the NPT. If India had accepted, we would have a less unstable subcontinent today.

    As usual a depthless comment from the author. It is the nuclear weapon on both sides that has made subcontinent more stable. Otherwise there would have been all out wars long back. India would have been tempted to take an offensive stance post 26/11, had there been no nuclear weapons.


  • Asjad Khan
    Aug 19, 2012 - 2:27AM

    “The Quaid-e-Azam and Ziaul Haq were two leaders who knew what Muslims wanted and gave it to them”

    Quaid e Azam gave Pak…what did Zia give militants and a divided country?? a legacy that haunts us even more than 24 years after his death?


  • Suleiman Al Binali
    Aug 19, 2012 - 2:59AM

    It is odd to have all the blame for what is ill with Pakistan on one person – Zia. Fact of the matter is most of us Pakistanis are religous bigots at some level, the reason why all these laws including blasphemy laws are popular. And, that is not surprising. The starting point of our belief is that God has been specially revealed to us and us only through a single person who lived 1300 years ago. Naturally, anyone who does not follow this pure revealed path must be infidel and inferior. That exlusive (opposite of inclusive) nature of our religion is the root of all bigotry, jihad, and crimes against humanity that have existed since bin Qasim. So, let us not blame Zia who only articulated what society was already inclined to do and has done for centuries.


  • Ammar
    Aug 19, 2012 - 3:18AM

    Zia as incorruptible? Humayun Akhtar Khan once made fun of Ijaz ul Haq saying that I know his worth: my father ( General Akhtar Abdul Rahman) made US $ 750 million while his father (Zia) made US $ 250 million. A person who made US $ 250 million is incorruptible? His famous quip to Seth Abid: Khao magar thandi kar key khao also shows the sort of incorrupltible company he enjoyed. Needless to say that people like General Fazle- Haq and Akhtar Abdul Rahman along with Zia featured among the article on richest generals- which was carried in Time magazine. Recommend

  • Babloo
    Aug 19, 2012 - 3:31AM

    @Aakar Patel,
    This piece contains lots of wisdom and straight talk. Good job.


  • Aryabhat
    Aug 19, 2012 - 4:03AM

    Aurangzeb’s oppresion of Hindus brought Maratha revolt and saved Hinduism in South Asia. Hope same happens with toxins released by Zia.

    As for thinking that making South Asia Nuke free would have been good idea, I am sorry but you are trying to please pakistani audience as you very well know that Indian Nuke programme (and most of defence/space programme) to balance Chinese threat. You couldn’t be more wrong on that point!

    Agree with your larger point though – Zia’s legacy lives on because that is what Pakistanis want, like and are addicted to!


  • Ejaaz
    Aug 19, 2012 - 4:03AM

    “The Quaid-e-Azam and Ziaul Haq were two leaders who knew what Muslims wanted and gave it to them.”

    True. The english medium liberals cannot deal with this simple fact. The arc of Pakistan is progressing logically from what the Quaid e Azam bestowed, and Zia was merely a prominent marker in that journey. We will travel down the road of never ending Islamisation. Either we will figure out what an Islamic Welfare State should be and implement it or we will destroy ourselves. Non-muslims really have no place in Pakistan. They eventually will be reduced to less than one in a thousand irrelevance soon, and there is nothing anyone can do about it. The new game is whether the 15% Shia will have a place in this Land of the Pure.


  • KhuRram Kaleem
    Aug 19, 2012 - 4:32AM

    Zia promoted ethnicity in Karachi and Sindh. He promoted Sunni Shia divide.his referendum of getting elected in the name of Islam was height of hypocrisy.he made the ISI core job to penetrate into politics. He made the generals right under his nose corporate kings like akhtar rehman of Pepsi and allowed corruption in army . He allowed killing of Pakistanis under Ojhri camp to cover his generals misappropriation in afghan war. He destroyed is hustling bustling city of Karachi.he did not build kalabagh …..what elseRecommend

  • ishtiaer hussain
    Aug 19, 2012 - 5:03AM

    We need to amend the Anti-Terrorism law and give special powers to security agencies to deal effectively with the menace of terrorism. In spite of the possibility that some of these powers may be abused, such abuses are a small price for defeating terrorism in the country after all we are in a state of war. India, even the U.S and many other countries have enacted special laws and empowered their security agencies with special powers to deal with terrorism.


  • ishtiaer hussain
    Aug 19, 2012 - 5:22AM

    Zia has long died but no one (other than another military general Pervez Musharraf in the case of mildly amending the Hudood Ordinance) has dared to touch upon any of the discriminatory laws he, his predecessors and his successors enacted. The writer is absolutely right that Zia gave us what we actually wanted. Pakistan was created on communal basis and had to be put on a trajectory which has led it to self-destruction. Any entity which is created on hate (hatred of Hindus and other non-Muslims) begets hate. OUR FOREBEARS WANTED TO HAVE A MUSLIM STATE IN INDIA, THEIR CHILDREN NOW HAVE IT. Let’s reap the crop of hatred which our elders sowed for us.


  • C. Nandkishore
    Aug 19, 2012 - 5:47AM

    History repeats. The Mugal Empire broke after Aurangzeb. And Pakistan is breaking today.


  • Maulana
    Aug 19, 2012 - 6:19AM

    Good article. I too agree though with the author that blaming Zia-ul-haq for all our woes is just wrong and is equivalent of finding a escape-goat for all our problems. If we find so much wrong with Zia then why after 25 years, we still have his blasphemy laws, Qisas and Diyat (that allows rich to got scot free by paying money, indicating that justice can be bought, and it was rubbed on our own face by US by buying Raymond Davis freedom), or the overall islamization of society. Why we start feeling uneasy when someone tries to bring down any of these laws and start arguing that Pakistan is for Muslims and these are Islamic laws, those who have problems should just keep their mouth shut. The reason why people like zia come into power and their legacy remains, is due to our own hypocrite nature and it always manifest itself by blaming Zia or Zardari at national level and US,India, Israel at international level for all our problems.


  • vasan
    Aug 19, 2012 - 6:28AM

    Not surprising final punch. He gave Pakistan what muslims always wanted. That is why no other dictator or civilian presidents are able to remove them. Well said. So why blame Zia. Atleast he was not a hypocrite because he praticed islam seriously, not corrupt and gave what people wanted.


  • Vikas
    Aug 19, 2012 - 6:58AM

    Thank You Zia. May your legacy live long in Pakistan( only ).


  • Sanjeev
    Aug 19, 2012 - 7:05AM

    As an Indian I wish Pakistan well, and believe in its right to be an Islamic state. I also have the right, nevertheless, to strongly disagree with and abhor the idea of any country being “officially” by, of and for the religion of 97.5% of its citizens. I mean really? In 2012? Every country has to be a secular state. That’s the inevitable march toward humaneness and justice. Also, while I think Imran Khan, for example, is a great man in some ways, and honest, I dislike his brand of politics the most. His constant talk of “Islami Falahi Riyasat” and “Pehle Musalman Bano” — where does that leave Pakistani Hindus, say? If Muslims in India, say oppose (obviously) a Hindu Rashtra, how hypocritical is it for Pakistani right-wingers who criticize India for its (non-existent) Hindu Rashtra as desired by the VHP, etc., to then turn around and support an Islamic state — the Hindu Rashtra’s equivalent — in Pakistan? Where a non-Muslim is legally banned from being President or Prime Minister? Where the blasphemy laws only sentence the critics of one — the official — religion to death? If Imran Khan was born in a Hindu family in Pakistan, he could legally never aspire to be PM. Does he realize this? Does it stir his famous moral compassion at all?


  • tareen
    Aug 19, 2012 - 7:46AM

    “Aurangzeb’s bedtime reading was Imam Ghazali. Zia read Maudoodi and not much else.” That is a stark difference, not a similarity. Ghazali was the most creative thinkers in medieval Islam, Mawdudi did not even have the proper training of an ‘alim.


  • ToraBora
    Aug 19, 2012 - 7:58AM

    Looks like none of the commenters so far have understood the article! Still blaming Zia.


  • sidrah.moiz
    Aug 19, 2012 - 8:56AM

    This is an awesome, awesome read. Loved it entirely.


  • Aug 19, 2012 - 8:59AM

    Good analogy of Aurangzeb. The last paragraphs are sad and makes one wonder whether there’s anyway in undoing the ideological regression or it’s the nation’s fate since inception. After the Taseer assassination those few moderates who used to claim there were only a few extremists or fundamentalists in Pak society had a rude awakening finally realizing who was and was not mainstream. The irony is not lost that Jinnah himself would have been a sectarian misfit in Zia’s world.


  • kaalchakra
    Aug 19, 2012 - 9:36AM

    Aaker, this is your first good argument.

    Zia ul Haq Shaheed brought out Pakistaniyat, which was struggling to be defined up until his time. Bhutto used Islam for personal gain but there is no evidence he really believed in it. So Zia ul Haq shaheed was the natural progression from the Great Quaid.

    The Great Quaid created Pakistan using Islam, ZiaulHaq Shaheed infused the state with the spirit of Islam. People loved him them, they love him now, and will never let liberals tinker with the Shaheed’s legacy without which Pakistan would make no sense to anyone – even to liberals who denounce ZiaulHaq shaheed.


  • Aug 19, 2012 - 9:52AM

    This is not the time to write anything good about Zia…let us celebrate eid peacefully.Recommend

  • afzaalkhan
    Aug 19, 2012 - 9:56AM

    Khair mubarak Aakar Patel and a happy eid to you too.


  • Pradeep
    Aug 19, 2012 - 10:16AM

    The truth is that the laws that remain on the book unchanged through dictatorial and democratic governments are there because they are popular

    That is the crux of the matter. I am not sure how many Pakistanis realize it.


  • Babar
    Aug 19, 2012 - 10:34AM

    I had an impression that Jinnah was a reactionary to the Nahro – Patel policies rather then a person driven by Islamic idiology. Until the end he appeared willing to withdraw demand for sesscion of India but the egos were far too high at the congress side. So much so that even the great Mahtma was politically marginalized by the two, and he became a non entity in the congress policy making.

    It is sad that most Indian maintains a grude against Jinnah, while Nahro – Patel are treated as heros.


  • Aug 19, 2012 - 10:38AM

    This is a funny piece, really. The half glass ful version, in a way. Rgds


  • Mujhe hay hukm e azaan
    Aug 19, 2012 - 11:07AM

    No this cannot be written by an indian …Specially praise for Alamghiir
    Too good to be true
    Many thanks for writing this


  • israrmemon
    Aug 19, 2012 - 11:17AM

    Its one side of the coin!!! The good things done during Musharaf regime and current regime dose not make them good!!


  • Yuri Kondratyuk
    Aug 19, 2012 - 11:26AM


    he was a man who understood that
    pakistan was a country for muslims.

    What the author points out is that Zia understood that Pakistan is a country for self-righteous and intolerant hypocrites who need to persecute someone to feel good about themselves. And that Zia kept feeding these primal urges of general populace in order to consolidate his power.
    So, don’t bring religion into this unless you want largely peaceful Islam to be described with negative connotations.


  • Yawar
    Aug 19, 2012 - 11:33AM

    Zia suspended the 1973 Constitution and with it the provisions for fundamental rights accorded to Pakistani’s citizens. Self proclaimed ‘Amin-ul-Momanin’ introduced a host of discriminatory laws citing Islam as a justification but he had personal political agenda. He, for example; explicitly targeted law against blasphemy, brought laws specifically restricting activities of Ahmadis, approved discriminatory Ordinances of Hadood, Qisas & Diyat, and made the laws of evidence inequitable & gender-based. His actions were the main reason for placing the state on sectarian partisan footings thus brining religious intolerance, inter-faith violence, public disorder, militancy, terrorism etc. etc. Recommend

  • Macho
    Aug 19, 2012 - 11:48AM

    Jinnah can not be compared with any other leader of the sub-continent. Recommend

  • Big Rizvi
    Aug 19, 2012 - 12:04PM

    There were not only Muslims who moved to Pakistan, there were also peoples of other religions.


  • Dr Chaudry
    Aug 19, 2012 - 12:35PM

    reading maudoodi and ghazali are two very different things, maudoodi had a very narrow vision of Islam while Ghazali had a much elaborate and pluralistic approach towards understanding Islam.


  • BlackJack
    Aug 19, 2012 - 12:37PM

    I partially agree with the broad thrust of Mr. Patel’s argument, being that Zia is unjustly vilified – for not being a hypocrite in his unfettered ambitions for Pakistan as an Islamist state. After all, other decisions by the leadership in the first 3 decades post-independence have nudged Pak society in the same direction, albeit cloaked in nationalist or socialist propaganda; Zia only gave further impetus to this movement, and the Afghan war happened at an opportune time providing a worthwhile cause and massive investment to accelerate the process. The argument of Jinnah’s children vs. Maududi’s (or in this case Zia’s) children is fundamentally flawed; Zia was but a logical extension of Jinnah’s divisive rhetoric and Pakistan’s subsequent self-categorization as a bulwark against forces inimical to Islam; the timing and tenure of Zia’s rule only provide a convenient scapegoat to a nation that was already headed in this direction at a more leisurely pace. Recommend

  • haroon ahmad
    Aug 19, 2012 - 12:49PM

    Nicely written article and to the point too. The first news article ever which really attempts to tell what real man Zia wad instead of harping on all that old stuff which Pakistani journalists are really good at!


  • observer
    Aug 19, 2012 - 1:44PM

    The Quaid-e-Azam and Ziaul Haq are two leaders who knew what Muslims wanted and gave it to them

    Let everyone soak these words. Forget all your fantasies of a modern progressive Muslim country and accept the soaked in the blood of minority, society that you are.

    Is it any surprise that Blasphemy laws and Sipah e Sahabas et al are legacies of Zia that the Muslims of Pakistan would never want to undo?


  • Aug 19, 2012 - 2:02PM

    This is very unfortunate the author has put the despotic Zia at par with the founder of Pakistan. Quaid-e-Azam gave us a country. Zia gave us terrorism, sectarianism, bigotry and intolerance. He was the Zia who had entrapped this country into violent culture.


  • Aug 19, 2012 - 3:19PM

    Zia destroyed Jinnah’s Pakistan!Recommend

  • Aug 19, 2012 - 3:23PM

    Hindus never liked Auranzeb and equating with Gen. Zia is like giving a sugar coated pill to us.


  • Meekal A Ahmed
    Aug 19, 2012 - 3:34PM


    His “economic reforms”????


  • antanu g
    Aug 19, 2012 - 3:59PM

    @Akshay, India:
    and what about non- muslim’s INTOKERANCE? even your comment reflects upon your intolerance towards muslimsRecommend

  • antanu g
    Aug 19, 2012 - 4:01PM

    things are changing. mr.jaswant singh has shown us a mirror ..with true faces of nehru and jinnah.Recommend

  • antanu g
    Aug 19, 2012 - 4:05PM

    read the version of dr. suta ram on aurangzeb. however we indians have become great slaves of western ideascthst what it serves we accept as devine.Recommend

  • blaizebob
    Aug 19, 2012 - 4:06PM

    “The truth is that the laws that remain on the book unchanged through dictatorial and democratic governments are there because they are popular.”

    Majority of Pakistanis want a law which would require political parties to have internal democracy and to have wide reaching land and tax reforms, doesn’t mean they will become law. There are many “vested interests”, amongst other things, near the stratosphere of power over which the public have little sway over, specially in a country like Pakistan.

    It would be unfair to the people of Pakistan if the intolerance of groups with a “vested interest” were attributed to them…


  • Haya
    Aug 19, 2012 - 4:23PM

    Brilliantly written. I would like you thank you for this, and might i add my immense surprise that ET actually published this. In 24 years the English print in Pakistan has done nothing but criticize a grave and yet made absolutely NO amendments to his laws. They haven’t because they cant. Pakistani’s would not tolerate this. And that is precisely why all liberal secularists enjoy Zia bashing – they know they’re helpless.


  • Dani
    Aug 19, 2012 - 4:46PM

    The writer is a Zia apologist. He didn’t write about the sectarian violence, Kalashnikov culture, rise of separatism, terrorism, extremism, racism. Zia is the worst thing ever happened to Pakistan. Period.


  • Salim
    Aug 19, 2012 - 5:11PM

    I am so lucky that I emigrated from Pakistan.


  • mr. righty rightist
    Aug 19, 2012 - 5:28PM

    @Haya, Dani and other Pakistanis

    Can’t you people read and understand clearly what a simple and straightforward article says? This needs a reprimanding of Pakistani education system which has failed you miserably.

    Author is neither siding with nor apologizing for Zia.

    Author is saying that your failed country is a result of you people and not that of Zia. Zia gave you want you needed (or perhaps even wanted), a failed state.


  • Aug 19, 2012 - 5:33PM

    I believe, we have always been an ideologically split Nation. There have always been differences of views between religious & liberal extremists especially on “the right lifestyle”; with both trying to dominate and influence the other. Both parties have always considered themselves Elite and Superior than the other. Both have displayed high egos and hatred against the other time and again. Having said that they have miraculously managed to coexist like a prolonged bad marriage.


  • Iron hand
    Aug 19, 2012 - 5:47PM

    The author confirms what I’ve believed for some time – the problem with Pakistan isn’t its government. The problem with Pakistan is Pakistanis.


  • saeed
    Aug 19, 2012 - 5:50PM

    Few people like Mr Righty understand the article
    All other think he is praising Mr Zia. No in fact the people of Pakistan need to take blame what is going now


  • Aug 19, 2012 - 5:50PM

    Jinnah pushed a boulder down from the top of the cliff. Zia simply cleared the impediments for the rolling stone.

    Since, the stone gathered speed because of the act of Zia, everybody blame him. But, the Holy Cow remains untouched.

    Zia brought forth the inevitability of what Pakistan was to become. He did not push the stone.

    I really pity the liberals of Pakistan. They know all this yet cannot criticise Jinnah because that will simply go allow them to convince anyone of their viewpoint.

    They have to construct this false Jinnah, who was secular, non-communal, yet managed to justify the two-nation(Two Religions are so different that their pupil cannot live together) theory and created a secular Muslim Pakistan.

    A lot of contradictions in just one sentence.

    If they say the truth as it is: Jinnah may have been secular or not, he did harm the Muslims of India by asking for a new state. Its what the people wanted, yes. But, the leaders are like Parents. They ask for absurd things, if you give in to them you are simply spoiling them.


  • John McCoy
    Aug 19, 2012 - 6:00PM

    A country’s and a people’s ethos can be easily be determined by who their heroes are. Heroes are the reflections of themselves in the mirror, or at least who they strive to be.

    India reveres Mahatma Gandhi the apostle of peace and nonviolence, irrespective of race religion or gender. He was a primary inspiration for our own Martin Luther king and every American child learns about Gandhi in high school, as I am sure they do the world over. The other hero is Ashoka who adorns the indian flag (ashoka’s wheel) and the indian emblem (the lion capital). Ashoka is the only emperor the world has known who stopped fighting to spread you. Mind you, India has no dearth of conquerors in its long history. The. Chola kings of south for instance conquered all of southern india, eastern India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Indonesia, and all the land around the bay of Bengal, making it into the top 15 largest empires the world has seen. And many indian emperors ruled large empires that stretched from central Asia and Afghanistan to the bay of Bengal. But none of these conquerors are the hero the way Ashoka is.

    Pakistan on the other hand also has heros. Aurangazeb the most bigoted Islamic king to have ruled the indian subcontinent who murdered family members but showed much pious religiosity. Bin Qasim, ghori, ghazni – all jihadis who plundered raped and pillaged the forebears of modern Indians and Pakistanis.

    Granted intolerance exists in both in India and Pakistan. And in my country too, as witnessed by the recent gurudwara shooting. But is it the norm or the exception? In the case if Pakistan it is norm. The heros of a people tell it all.


  • MNH
    Aug 19, 2012 - 6:04PM

    No one can dare to change the laws created by Zia because otherwise they will meet same destiny as Salman Taseer. It’s not the matter of them (laws) being popular but the fanaticism brought in by Zia comes in the way.


  • Khurshid
    Aug 19, 2012 - 6:35PM

    Don’t drag Jinnah’s name in the mud by pairing him with the dictator. There can be no two polar opposites than Jinnah and Zia – it’s utterly nonsensical to see them as similar. Recommend

  • Khadim Karrar
    Aug 19, 2012 - 6:55PM

    Zia’s main contribution was to help the Soviets get out of Afghanistan peacefully after they had been trapped in protracted warfare for almost a decade. However, a certain section of the population dislikes him so much that none of his achievements are ever acknowledged.


  • kaalchakra
    Aug 19, 2012 - 7:08PM

    To all haters of Maudoodi, open your eyes. Maudoodi was to Ghazali what Zia was to the Great Quaid – All great Muslims serving the causes loved by ordinary Muslims.


  • Pakistani Pakhtoon
    Aug 19, 2012 - 7:24PM

    religion should be taken out of politics and thats what have made pakistan dangerous place to live and our establishment still practices molvi general zia ul haq policies,, wt a shame we havnt learnt from past


  • Faris
    Aug 19, 2012 - 7:44PM

    Can we please tell the writer to also write about the caste system and how it continues to survive democratic governments? Also because it is popular in India, ‘kettle calling the pot black, much’


  • Masroor Ansari
    Aug 19, 2012 - 8:24PM

    hi aakar


  • Waleed Khan
    Aug 19, 2012 - 8:42PM

    I really don’t have any answer for that. Cause if the Majority craved for harsh Islamists (during the 50s-60s-70s), they would surely have voted for them in which elections we had in Pakistan. PPP ( a left-leaning liberal p
    arty) is the biggest party in Pakistan till now. ANP which rules the most conservative of pakistani provinces is leftist as well, is a leftist party. MQM is again mostly secular. Only the PML-N ( the remenants of zia regime) continue to be right of center.

    Now After Zia, whether the ‘majority’ wants those very laws that is a different story. Cause these laws were passed by an Islamist dictator where people had no say on it.

    Coming to the point that why are they still here , PPP and the Musharraf government tried many times to get em repealed. but it has been the pressure (or threats) from the Mullahs that couldn’t get those passed through. I am sure many people give 2 damns to what remains and what doesn’t in the constitution.


  • stating the obvious
    Aug 19, 2012 - 9:25PM

    There was no Zia in Egypt, Mali, Iran, Saudi Arabia or Yemen, yet they are facing the same problems of intolerance, bigotry, minority persecution, scientific and technological backwardness like Pakistan.


  • Kaspar
    Aug 19, 2012 - 9:32PM

    There is one more similarity between Zia and Aurangzeb. After Aurangzeb, the Mughal Empire declined and ultimately the British captured power in India. After Zia and his Afghan jihad, the country is constantly going downhill, and the Americans have gained much more influence in Pakistan than before.
    Zia’s laws would be repealed when we have in the saddle upright people having the courage to challenge religious bigotry and hypocrisy– a tall order.


  • Azhar Ali
    Aug 19, 2012 - 10:24PM

    This is over simplification. Zia loved what he did. Others did it to appease Islamists. Bhutto was very liberal, openly admitting that he drank, but got Ahmdis declared as non-Muslims. This in itself is incomprehensible, but a fact.Quaid Azam got a separate homeland for Muslims to avoid domination of Hindus, by raising slogan of Muslims being a different entity.But he was secular in his approach.


  • Hasan Abbas
    Aug 19, 2012 - 10:42PM

    Zia is alive today because of his predecessors failed to dismantle social changes brought by him and laws imposed by him. But the most devastating thing was that mullahs became so powerful that Pakistan became hostage to them. And it is almost impossible to put the jinn back in the bottle.


  • abdul waheed
    Aug 19, 2012 - 11:24PM

    zia was a great leader of muslim umma!


  • Peace Seeker
    Aug 19, 2012 - 11:46PM

    Zia’s greatest achievement, not to mention his failures, was to contribute Pakistan’s part in denying Afghanistan to the Soviets.


  • True Muslim Paki
    Aug 20, 2012 - 12:23AM

    Excellent Article and I 100% agree with it. My earlier comments also touched upon the same subject saying “All parties, old or the new (including the PTI), never ever went against the Blasphemy Law. Why? Because, its very popular with the masses. But the so called liberals here wont agree.
    & ET Moderator wont let my comment pass through.


  • Dr Khan
    Aug 20, 2012 - 12:59AM

    @stating the obvious
    Bullseye !!


  • Babloo
    Aug 20, 2012 - 2:41AM

    Mr Jinnah laid the foundation and Mr ZIA built on it.


  • Yehonala
    Aug 20, 2012 - 3:39AM

    Comparing Jinnah with Zia is colossally insane but what else can one expect of an Indian writer? To call Jinnah divisive is to be extremely ignorant of history. High ranking politician from India’s Hindu extremist BJP party has admitted in his book that it was the Congress’s uncompromising intolerance that pushed Jinnah into demanding a separate state. Jinnah had only wanted a separate electorate for Muslims, which the Congress and the British rejected, then he asked for a confederation with Muslims being a separate unit within the same political entity, which Congress, in its insistence on a highly centralized state, rejected. That’s when Jinnah said only full independence is the choice left. He very clearly wanted Pakistan to be nothing like what Zia created. By placing Jinnah and Zia side by side, this article’s writer smashed his own credibility in an otherwise excellent piece of work. This is just another sign of the deep scars the Indian psyche bears from the 1947 partition that they themselves ironically are responsible for.


  • Yuri Kondratyuk
    Aug 20, 2012 - 7:20AM


    Hindus never liked Auranzeb

    Even his own family didn’t like Aurangzeb. He was hated by his father, siblings and his own children.
    Don’t know why Pakistanis like him so much.


  • Yuri Kondratyuk
    Aug 20, 2012 - 7:24AM

    @True Muslim Paki:

    All parties, old or the new (including
    the PTI), never ever went against the
    Blasphemy Law. Why? Because, its very
    popular with the masses. But the so
    called liberals here wont agree

    Brother, for once I fully agree with you.


  • Im
    Aug 20, 2012 - 7:37AM

    Finally, a much needed history lesson. Wish a Pakistani had written it.Recommend

  • Aug 20, 2012 - 7:56AM

    Patel Sahib,

    I agree with most of what you have said. Its good to notice similarities from a bygone era and the contemporary one.

    Couple of quick thoughts:

    Ziaul Haq Coup d’état i.e. forceful and illegal disposition of a democratically elected government and thereafter not fulfilling the promise of restoring of the democratic process till his death is all one needs to know to give verdict here. Yes, some side benefits might have been gained. There always are. One may argue that the birth of Israel is a positive by product of Holocaust…does it justify the Holocaust though?

    “His (Z.A.B.’s) law on Ahmadis need not be referred to other than to remind readers that it was both democratic and unanimous.”

    I disagree. Democratic votes are transparent and such proceedings are in the public domain. Neither is the case here. What went down has not been disclosed to date….an anathema to democratic process.

    Unanimous generally means either 100% agreement or close to it. Do we know either was the case? Do we even know if a vote was taken? What were the arguments?…again no way to tell if the votes were

    “Jaziya, the penalty for being born Hindu…”

    I do not know under what circumstances the said law was imposed by Aurangzeb. However, I wish to clarify that technically Jaziya is tax levied on non-Muslims. Its percentage per my understanding is less than that of zakat, the tax levied on Muslims.


  • Sohail Nawaz
    Aug 20, 2012 - 10:36AM

    I think we either immortalize people or declare them SATAN.
    The fact is that Zia did what he was suppose to do, as he was brought in power by USA to play a very important role in war with Soviets. Once Zia job was over (finished); USA sent his baggage rolling towards the earth from the sky.Recommend

  • sabi
    Aug 20, 2012 - 11:07AM

    I agree with you 100% almost all reader across the borders seeme to be ignorant of partition’s politics including Author of this article.people in india are no less brainwashed about M.A.J.inah.who infact was not resposible for India’s partition rather congress leadership which forced him to go for a seperate homeland.But alas this is a sorry state that very few people in sub.continent manage to find the truth.I find authors remark about Quaide azam highly unfair..


  • SAK
    Aug 20, 2012 - 12:14PM

    The Quide’s name shall not be used with a dictator to decorate your column. I condemn this.


  • Parvez
    Aug 20, 2012 - 12:47PM

    He is right. We didn’t know what we were getting into by opting for a separate state for Muslims. We didn’t realize that Muslims will start behaving like Mullahs instead of being good human begings.Recommend

  • Cynical
    Aug 20, 2012 - 1:45PM

    Probably the best from Aakar published in ET.
    Zia didn’t appear in a vaccum, it’s naive to assume otherwise.


  • Hammad
    Aug 20, 2012 - 2:50PM

    Pakistan would not have supported jihad in kashmir had they not had nuclear weapons


  • Cynical
    Aug 20, 2012 - 3:12PM

    @stating the obvious

    ‘There was no Zia in Egypt, Mali, Iran, Saudi Arabia or Yemen, yet they are facing the same problems of intolerance, bigotry, minority persecution, scientific and technological backwardness like Pakistan.’

    Quite a sharp observation. Let’s probe a little further.
    What’s the common thread that runs through ‘Egypt, Mali, Iran, Saudi Arabia or Yemen’ and Pakistan?

    Does it become a little more obvious to you Mr. stating the obvious?


  • Aamir
    Aug 20, 2012 - 3:59PM

    The message is not even that subtle, yet we have Zia admirers pouring in from everywhere. Speaks volumes about the quality of education in Pakistan


  • Lala Gee
    Aug 20, 2012 - 5:08PM

    (Moderator: I have posted this comment couple of hours ago. It is 100% in accordance with the ET comments guidelines. Please take some time to read it)


    “The Quaid-e-Azam and Ziaul Haq were two leaders who knew what Muslims wanted and gave it to them.”

    I appreciate your efforts to find the root causes of extremism and intolerance in Pakistani society and to certain extent you are right in your diagnosis. Your conclusion that absolves the past rulers of Pakistan for their shortsightedness on the basis that they did what people wanted is not totally true. The general public is usually more like a clean slate with unique characteristics (inclinations and biases). It is the leaders who fill the slate with their own agenda through rhetoric and propaganda using media as a tool. Good and sincere rulers use this fact to the betterment and progress of the nation and the others use it to their own benefit. This is exactly what Zia and Bhutto did, otherwise Pakistani society was generally tolerant and moderate in their views pre 1970s. The proof of moderate behavior of Pakistani society is reflected in the fact that religious parties have never been able to secure more than a few percent of the popular vote and hence a couple of seats in any election, let alone come into power. As a side note, compare this fact with India. The Indian people are not very different in their psychological make up from the Pakistani people, rather a bit more orthodox and extreme in their views as proved by the fact that several extreme right-wing parities (part of the ‘Hindutva’ alliance) have been successfully getting elected through popular vote. But yet India is not in focus due to your successful cover of ‘SECULARISM’.

    Now a few words regarding Jinnah. If you remember history, neither Jinnah nor Muslims of the sub-continent demanded Pakistan till late 1930’s. Rather, Jinnah was known as the ‘Ambassador of Hindu Muslim Unity’ and Muslims till 1940 never elected AIML as their sole representatives. So then what changed the whole scenario. In my honest opinion, it was the congress leaders, Nehru and Patel, who forced Jinnah to change his views by consistently refusing to assure that Muslims in the united sub-continent would be treated fairly and kept sticking with the ‘majority rules’ principle. On the face it is a principle stand but you know practically it does have several implications. This realization by Jinnah made him to convince many Muslims – not all – to demand for a separate country.

    I hope this will help clear some confusion created by your sincere efforts.


  • sabi
    Aug 20, 2012 - 6:37PM

    Lala gee,
    Eid mubarik to you and all fellow readers. Recommend

  • Lord
    Aug 20, 2012 - 7:21PM

    He was an extremist in his ideological thoughts but Jinnah wasn’t thats the main difference between the two.See your own conditions for signing NPT such pre conditions are not practical


  • arshad Ali
    Aug 20, 2012 - 7:26PM

    The readers who think that Mr. Aakar Patel was admiring Gen Zia ul Haq just did not get it. They also misread the caption ‘In praise of Zia’. Aakar was merely pointing to the facts and hypocrisy of the Leaders who ruled before and after Zia.

    His not too veiled assertion defining similarity of persuasions and accomplishment between Mr. Jinnah and Gen Zia ul Haq appears to be an incomplete resemblances but it was “open” ending, leaving the readers to decide for themselves with a clear mind.

    Mr. Aakar was expressing his opinion based on facts. It was not a fiction where the reader would want to enjoy a sense of completion in something that effect them. Life doesn’t fit neat niches anyway and there can be seemingly too much to summarize, or to admit to, or to bask in. ..
    [email protected]


  • gp65
    Aug 20, 2012 - 9:06PM

    @Salim: “Zia was the worst thing that happened to Pakistan.We are reaping what he sowed in the form of militants and terrorists.”

    What the author is saying that policies that are blamed on Zia started much earlier than Zia – whether rent-anarmy scheme,lying to the country about India and Hindus, intolerance towards other faiths/cultures (remember objective resolution, declaring Ahmadis non-Muslim, Operation searchlight against Bengalis, lies about 1965 war, oppression of Balochs by Bhuto are all pre-Zia events. Also as mentioned by the author, if silent majority really thought what he did was wrong, those textbooks and laws sowing hatred would have been changed.
    How many people come to DPC ralies? How many people ame to rallies to oppose target killing of Shias, breaking worship place of Ahmadis? kidnapping and frced conversion of minor Hindu girls? killing and dumping of Balochs? It is pretty clear what people support.


  • neeschey
    Aug 20, 2012 - 9:34PM

    but quaid -e-azam was shia


  • gp65
    Aug 20, 2012 - 9:45PM

    @Big Rizvi: “There were not only Muslims who moved to Pakistan, there were also peoples of other religions.”

    Wrong. Only Muslims moved TO Pakistan. Yes there were 20% non-Muslims already living in present day Pakistan in 1947 but either they have been killied or forcibly converted or pushed out of the country so that the percentage of non-Muslims now is less than 5%


  • Kakar Patel
    Aug 20, 2012 - 10:54PM

    So, by the logic of this writer, we can safely assume that the reason Babri Mosque is not being rebuilt is because this is what the silent majority in India wants. So Vajapayee and Advani knew exactly what Hindus of India wanted and gave it to them. Right?


  • Raja Islam
    Aug 21, 2012 - 1:00AM

    Even though I personally blame Zia for many of the ills seen in Pakistan today, I do tend to agree with the author that it may be a significant number of people who want to see Pakistan going down its current path. I do disagree that it is the majority who want it, but it most definitely is a very violent and vocal minority who would like to see Pakistan a backward and illiterate state. The silent majority on the other hand is apathetical as they have to worry more about their next meal rather than where Pakistan is headed socially and politically.


  • Raja Islam
    Aug 21, 2012 - 1:02AM

    @abdul waheed:
    Zia was neither a leader or a true Muslim. He was a corrupt power seeking megalomaniac.


  • Raja Islam
    Aug 21, 2012 - 1:05AM

    @stating the obvious:
    The question here is that are these countries backwards because they have a Muslim majority or they have a Muslim majority because they are backwards?


  • Dipak
    Aug 21, 2012 - 6:37AM

    Aakar, since you like people like Zia and you always find faults with India or Indians, it is time for you to move to Pakistan and find out what the real second class citizens feel like. You have it too easy in India.


  • Amir Wayn
    Aug 21, 2012 - 11:39AM

    Good awareness. Much appreciated


  • Vijay K
    Aug 21, 2012 - 12:13PM

    Another similarity : Aurangzeb sounded the death knell of the moughals, Zia sounded the death knell of Pakistan. On the day of Eid, your country-men are baying for the blood of a 11 year old Christian child. What more can I say to support my statement?


  • arshad Ali
    Aug 21, 2012 - 12:26PM


    Imam Ghazali was not creative thinker. He was a Scholastic justs as Alama Iqbal was, and it is now widely believed that if Muslims did not have people like Ashries and Ghazali there would have been thousands of Newton in Muslim world. Modoodi was not a scholar by any definition. If you read his books now they would seems so stupid. Not anyone reading Islamic book exclusively is a Scholar. Akar wrote Jinnah and Zia gave people what they wanted. That is so true. Bhutto was a staunch liberal yet to save his government he appeased people by declaring Ahmedis as non-Muslim, banned liquor (Though he himself remained alcoholic) betting on horse races was banned too. I think he also declared Friday as weekly day off He did all of this not for the love of Islam, He gave people what they wanted…


  • OS
    Aug 21, 2012 - 12:44PM

    Nations can be brainwashed into accepting the most heinous crimes as a norm. Hitler started a whole genocide against the jews That does not mean the German nation wanted it. His machinery forced them to accept. Religion is an emotional topic for any nation and is always on the fringe. It takes a whole propaganda machinery (e.g. ISI + media + religious organisations) that brings fringe notions into the mainstream. In India you have Narender Modi who got away with one of the greatest massacres of the century. That is not to say Gujratis wanted Muslims to be lynched. It was unthinkable. But Modi’s machinery succeeded in making it gain acceptance to some extent.


  • kaalchakra
    Aug 21, 2012 - 2:13PM


    That is not true. A couple of Christian families came to Pakistan from India. Many Ahmedis moved hoping to be able to work among Muslims.


    What’s the common thread that runs through ‘Egypt, Mali, Iran, Saudi Arabia or Yemen’ and Pakistan?

    In all these places Islamophobic Muslims have stopped the masses from following and implementing Islam fully. That’s why they are all unhappy. Not sure why Saudi Arabia is in the list though.


  • kokokoo
    Aug 21, 2012 - 2:40PM

    …kind of like the rise and fall of the Third Reich too


  • Shahid
    Aug 21, 2012 - 3:08PM

    I tip my hat to Mr. Aakar Patel, he is holding up a mirror for us to see our hideous true self. We, the silent minority, be it in Pakistan or India, we the believers in freedom, justice and equality, will continue to be a side show until these great values find resonance with the mass majority. This will need another Gandhi or Mandela, I dont see any on the horizon, not for Pakistan and not for India.


  • Pro Bono Publico
    Aug 21, 2012 - 4:33PM

    Even in their third round of ruling hapless Pakistan, PPP has not altered a single law, which is “disliked” by “liberals”. If you read Aya Amir in the The News, you know why — the “liberals” get what they want: their libations.


  • PKP
    Aug 21, 2012 - 5:53PM

    That Zia gave Pakistan what it wanted is like arguing that a rape victim enjoyed being raped and was asking for it.


  • Roy
    Aug 21, 2012 - 7:25PM

    Comparing Zia with Aurangzeb makes no sense. Aurangzeb ruled the Mughal empire for nearly 5 decades from Delhi and was a leading world figure of his times. Zia ruled for just a decade from Islamabad and was anything but a leading world figure nor did he rule a great empire. Aurangzeb is still remembered, for good or for worse, 3 hundred years after his death. 3 hundred years from now Zia ul haq will not even be a footnote in history.


  • Arif Ali Khan
    Aug 21, 2012 - 7:51PM

    Zia was the worst thing that could have happened to Pakistan. He brought the worst kind of intolerant faith to a nation filled with many sects and faiths. We all need to live together in peace. Intolerance by its nature doesn’t lead to peace. The only reason those laws have not been changed is because every subsequent government has had to keep the mullahs happy. They are afraid of the unrest that the mullah can create with the help of millions of dollars of funding that continues to come from our Saudi brethren. Mr. Patel the primary reason the laws remain is because over 70% of our populace is uneducated. We live in a country filled with daily injustice. I wonder what your take is on the many unarmed Shiyas who taken off buses and were killed recently, and the 11 year old mentally handicapped girl who is rotting in prison on blasphemy charges. Shame on all who didn’t speak out against such actions and shame on Zia ul Haq. Another military dictator whose children are millionaires from the exploits of a father who looted the country. We are awaiting a good honest leader still. May Allah help us.


  • gp65
    Aug 22, 2012 - 10:37AM

    @kaalchakra: “gp65
    That is not true. A couple of Christian families came to Pakistan from India. Many Ahmedis moved hoping to be able to work among Muslims.”

    Ahmadis considered themselves Muslims i 1965 and do so even now. IT is only in 1974 that the law deeming Ahmdis as non-Muslims was passed, so to include Ahmadis among non-Muslims who came to Pakistan is simply not true.

    As for Christians, there is no documentation that Chrisians uprooted themselves to move to Pakistan. Those that were already living in present day Pakistan may have continued living here. Please provide evidence if you are contradicting me that someone other than Muslims migrated to Pakistan.


  • Saeed
    Aug 22, 2012 - 10:44AM

    Good balanced article, not seen too often on the tribune. Hope this is a direction, and not a random occurrence.

    Many people have contributed to the ills that face Pakistan. However, we tend to be simplistic and blame everything on a few people, especially based on popular opinion and our biases. Zia, with his faults, still did some good too.


  • Seema
    Aug 22, 2012 - 10:58AM

    @Raja Islam: It is minority but it is supported by the most powerful institution….Army and agencies….. so none democratic govt ever able to undo black laws of Zia…… and these laws and mullahs are strength of Army….. These religious parties get chances in power corridors..along with army coups.


  • Ali
    Aug 22, 2012 - 9:13PM

    In 1967 he was heading 2nd division of Jordan army and started operation against Palestinians, 10,000-25,000 were killed. He was responsible for killing of more Palestinians than Israelis during 1965-75. The Jews killed less Palestinians than Zia.


  • Arif Ali Khan
    Aug 22, 2012 - 9:48PM

    I am not sure of the numbers of the dead, but it is true that Zia helped Jordan and he certainly commanded a great deal of respect in Jordan for this reason. btw Ali where can the numbers be verified?


    Aug 23, 2012 - 12:22AM

    On the Signing of NPT:
    This Doctrine was proposed by Sir Zafrullah Khan during the time of Ayub Khan in 1968 when treaty was officialy opened for signature & Pakistan refused to sign it. At that time Zafrullah Khan was contacted by Pakistan Foreign Office for Advice. Since then it had been the official stance of Pakistan.Zia was a Junior Officer at the time when NTP was opened. The Author of the article is just trying to twist History to Glorify the most despicable person in the history of Pakistan. He created a society which is shame to Humanity. There is no tolerance left in Pakistan. He created the Religious Extremism which is consuming Pakistan from within.
    I think author wants to show us that to commit national suicide was our joint & unimous decision.
    “His law on Ahmadis need not be referred to other than to remind readers that it was both democratic and unanimous.”
    I Add:
    But Immoral, Short Sighted , Politically Motivated, Un-Constitutional. Reason is very clear No goventment or group of people has the right to determine & define some one else’s religion or faith. Mr. Bhuto planted the seeds of hatred in the society & we are paying a very high price for his follies.


    Aug 23, 2012 - 12:33AM

    US did not buy the freedom of Raymond Davis. His freedom was bought as a gift by the Holy Rulers of S.A. to please their Masters & Handlers in Washington. Our Maulvies are paid good price not to target these corrupt Rulers of ME & Holy Land. So nobody said a word about it including media.


  • Salman Mirza
    Aug 23, 2012 - 6:18PM

    This article reminds me of our Pakistan Studies book…. conveniently missing a lot of information and twisting the rest… funnyy how the author is subtly trying to state that all Pakistanis are fundamentalists and Zia supporters are saying kudos to him… The information provided in this article has very clear factual inaccuracies and I dont know how dawn has allowed this to be published… Could the author elaborate how Zia’s role is exaggerated in the Sikh riots… blaming benazir for kashmir mujahideen (am I supposed to laugh at that).. you think the Army under Aslam beg was discussing foreign policy with BB???? its not about the english press or the urdu press… it is about facts… we are suffering what Zia has sown in our country… what Ayub and Bhutto did is nothing compared to what Zia ul haq did to our country… the author should also try to get a background as to why bhutto had to introduce the ahmadi element in the constitution…… Another interesting aspect of this article is that the author is okay with mujahideen per se as long as they are not messing with India… wow… Be it English or Urdu press it is a fact that from training camps within Pakistan to Jihad being legalized was done during Zia’s era.. Remember the mullah brothers from Lal Masjid??? who brought them right next to the capital… there is a huge difference between what steps you are forced to take as a leader of a country and what steps you take as a leader to steer the direction of the country’s ideology to bring it in line with Maudoodis ideology… Let me assure you… neither is Pakistani majority silent nor not grasping reality… these laws will be over turned one way or the other because they are against basic norms humanity and have nothing to do with Islam! These fundoos might have been able to hold the rest of Pakistan on the tip of a gun but that wont last very long! Recommend

  • SK
    Aug 24, 2012 - 12:06AM

    Without having read all the comments, I would like to congratulate the author for a bold piece on a topic which is perhaps more difficult for writers in Pakistan to approach than those outside. I do feel that its also a topic which would be more difficult for any non Pakistani to wholesomely grasp without considerable length of extensive and unbiassed research. The comparison between Zia and Aurangzeb is interesting but should be analysed with caution and not be considered out of context of the life and circumstances of both the people. On the conclusions presented, I would say that they appear somewhat simplistic and rather hasty but nevertheless are thought provoking…..
    Belated Eid Mubarik to Patel Sahab and readers!


  • Shajeel
    Aug 24, 2012 - 1:57PM

    Kudos to Aakar for showing us a whole new perspective.


  • Sehrish Andleeb
    Aug 24, 2012 - 4:24PM

    Read a good article after a long time !


  • danish zuberi
    Aug 26, 2012 - 7:13PM

    I grew up in Zia era. Saw the exit and execution of Bhutto. Two important points about Zia, he released all nationalist political leaders and denationalised the indistry and got the wheel of privatisation moving. I wanted to share my thoughts about Zia, but thought it would be blasphemous to praise Zia and criticise Bhutto. You have given me the courage and I would take a suplement next year – Would the Real Zia Stand Up. We would go through the objective ground realities of the region during that time- Iran revoloution, marxists gaining power in Afghanistan – cold War at its hieght – KGB and CIA – international alignments.


  • Pakistani
    Aug 27, 2012 - 10:53PM

    I am no PPP supporter as its Pakistan’s most corrupt party but during Zias time many PPP supporters were beaten nobody can deny thisRecommend

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