APROPOS the report on Gen Ziaul Haq’s assassination (August 17), I would like to add that all circumstantial evidence suggests that Zia’s assassination was a coup from within his own constituency. The fact that nobody was held responsible and sacked shows there was a major cover-up by the people left behind at the helm of affairs.
Cracks in Zia’s constituency started becoming evident when the Junejo government went ahead and signed the Geneva Accords on Afghanistan in April 1988, despite Zia’s opposition.
It is in my knowledge that newspapers were asked by the Zia regime to underplay the Geneva negotiations. This led me to ask Zain Noorani, then Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, what gave them the courage to defy Ziaul Haq. After a bit of coaxing, he said that the Geneva Accords had support from within the army.
On August 14, 1988, the opposition parties held a public meeting at Rawalpindi in which retired Gen. Tikka Khan, who was PPP secretary-general, said that the mammoth turnout in the garrison city of Rawalpindi showed that Zia’s constituency was not with him. Three days later, his plane crashed.
There was no panic after Zia’s death. Everything started falling in the right slot with Ghulam Ishaq Khan taking over as president and Gen. Aslam Beg as army chief.
There were reports at the time that the FBI team coming to probe the plane crash because the American ambassador and a brigadier general had died in the same crash was recalled even before reaching Pakistan. This gave credence to the theory that Americans were unhappy with Zia because he was backing Gulbuddin Hikmatyar’s Hezb-i-Islami.