General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq (August 12, 1924–August 17, 1988) ruled Pakistan from 1977 to 1988. His rule over the country, which lasted eleven years, is the longest to date in the history of Pakistan. Appointed Chief of Army Staff in 1976, General Zia-ul-Haq came to power after he overthrew ruling Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, after widespread civil disorder, in a bloodless military coup d'état on July 5, 1977 and imposed Martial Law. He assumed the post of President of Pakistan in 1978 which he held till his death on August 17, 1988.
His reign witnessed the enforcement of strict Islamic law within the country, the political stabilization of secession-threatening Balochistan following his setting-up of a separate military regime within the province, the passing of the controversial 8th Amendment into constitutional law, as well as the gradual privatization and subsequent rejuvenation of a previously declining economy.
He also fought a war by proxy in Afghanistan, aiding the Mujahidin against the superpower Soviet Union, in the Soviet-Afghan War. Following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 and the end of Détente, he was instrumental in providing United States-backed military aid to the Afghan resistance against Soviet occupation and then later diverting them to the Kashmir cause in the late 1980s. His major contributions to the Mujahideen greatly aided them in inducing a complete Soviet withdrawal by 1988.