“I hand over the reins of the

country to the people,”



On December 31st, 1985 General Mohammed Zia ul-Haq ended military rule almost 9 years after he imposed it upon taking power in a coup d’etat.

In a televised speech to Parliament, Zia announced the restoration of several articles of the constitution, including those guaranteeing basic freedoms.

Most diplomats and Pakistani politicians and intellectuals supported Zia’s move as a step toward democracy. But many suggested that the manner of his handover had left the country in a state of constitutional confusion, in which various laws -- and some martial-law orders, which remained in force -- would continue to give Zia the power to manage Pakistani political life.

As civilian president, Zia would keep broad powers, including a veto over all legislation, the authority to dissolve Parliament and, under pending legislation, control over a commission empowered to license and disqualify political parties, all of which were banned before. But theoretically he would give up day-to-day control over the government.