On this day in 1977, then army chief General Zia-ul-Haq overthrew prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s elected government by imposing martial law in the country and dissolving national and provincial assemblies in a coup d’état. Politicians, activists and journalists are remembering 5th July as a ‘Black Day’, noting how martial laws weakened Pakistan.
The 11 years of martial law that followed Gen Zia’s coup d’etat contributed to many problems that plague the country to this day. Politicians and journalists on social media are lamenting how civil supremacy and democracy has suffered at the hands of authoritarian rule.
Activist Ammar Ali Jan recalls the hyper-politicized use of religion to curb the freedoms of women and minorities, as well as Zia’s role in including Pakistan in the Soviet War.
Former senator Farhatullah Babar commented on how Bangladesh was able to forge out a better path by revolting against military dictatorship, but Pakistan remained unable to do so to this day.
Journalist Nadeem Farooq Paracha shares a photo from the early days of Zia as the COAS, a role for which he was ironically handpicked by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. Not only did Zia later overthrow Bhutto’s government, but he also hanged him.
Activist Ali Trimizi wrote that 5th July will be remembered as the day when Pakistan’s first democratically elected Prime Minister was overthrown by a military dictator.
Journalist and Activist Dr Arfana Mallah commented that Zia’s ghost is ‘still ruling’, referring to the weak state of civilian authority in the country.
Politician Mir Sohrab commented on how ironically Zia had termed his takeover ‘Operation Fair Play’.
Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) politician Abdul Majid Kalwar tweeted about the atrocities and inhumane behavior by Zia against politicians and journalists who dared oppose him.