Ziaur Rahman was born at Bogra in 1936. He joined the army in 1953 and was commissioned in 1955. Towards the end of 1969, he went to West Germany for training and later on, spent a few months with the British army. In October 1970, Major Ziaur Rahman was transferred to the newly raised Eighteen East Bengal Regiment at Chittagong. While serving in this regiment and following the crackdown on the un armed civilians, he led the revolt against the Pakistan army and on March 26 & 27, 1971, he made the historic announcement of independendence for the 75 million freedom-loving people of Bangladesh. During this time the “Shadheen Bangla Betar” (Independent Bangla Radio) related the various news of the nine month long war.
In 1971, he was promoted to the rank of Lt. Colonel. While in Roumari, he formed the 1st Brigade of the Bangladesh Army with the Jawans of 1st, 2nd and Eighth Bengal Regiments. It later came to be known as “Z” force. In 1972 he was appointed Deputy Chief of Staff of the army. He was rapidly promoted from one rank to another and was promoted to the rank of Major General in 1973.
In August, 1975 he assumed the responsibility of the Chief of Staff following the change over of the Government. On November 7, 1975, he became the Chief Martial Law Administrator. He attended the non-aligned summit conferance in Colombo in August 1976 and paid an official visit to China in January, 1977 and to Iran in March, 1977.
Major General Ziaur Rahman was sworn as The President of Bangladesh on April 21st, 1977. He attended the Commonwealth Heads of Government Conference in London and paid state visits to many countries including Arabia and China. He was sworn in as the First Elected President of Bangladesh on June 12, 1979. Immediately after the election he formed a political party, styled as Bangladesh Nationalist Party. He held general elections on the basis of universal adult franchise in February 1979, and won a landslide victory. Immediately after the general election, he withdrew emergency and Martial law from the country and set the process of restoring democratisation in motion.
In his personal life President Zia was a familyman. He was married to Begum Khaleda Zia, who later became the first woman Prime Minister of Bangladesh between 1991-1995 and is now the current prime minister.
The nation bade the late President a tearful and loving farewell on May 31, 1981. On this very day President Zia was assassinated by a abortive military mutiny in Chittagong.