There is a general conception in Pakistan that late General Zia was eliminated by Americans in a mysterious plane crash in August 17, 1988:
- The plane went down and then up and eventually hit the ground at about 60-70 deg and exploding.
- No black box was recovered.
- There was no MayDay Signal before crash.
- Two other planes who were on the same frequency, did not hear anything from the plane, except one word "Mahmood" (name of one pilot).
- No sign of struggle (as if the pilots were already dead).
- No autopsies were made on the dead.
- There were two American diplomats on board. US and FBI was kept out of investigation even though two US diplomats were involved.
The bottom line is, it wasn't a typical case.
One theory that is popular in Pakistan the pilots were paralyzed almost instantly with a lethal gas that only a few countries could have obtained.
Wikipedia explains (citing The History and Culture of Pakistan by Nigel Kelly):
A board of inquiry was set up to investigate the crash. It concluded the most probable cause of the crash was a criminal act of sabotage perpetrated in the aircraft. It also suggested that poisonous gases were released which incapacitated the passengers and crew, which would explain why no Mayday signal was given.
Barbara Crossett wrote an article about it that suggests this poison gas theory is true. Also American Ambassador to India, John Gunther Dean, suggested there could be an Israeli connection.
All I know is I had people from Congress coming to me and saying, John, a man of your background, you have to go and help on the Israeli issue. I said, What are you talking about? I'm the American ambassador [in India]. Whatever my religious views are, are between myself and my maker. I resent this. Go and talk to Arnie Raphel and Arnie Raphel by the way was Jewish, and he got along great with Zia. Why did these Congress people come to me and say, John, you gotta help curb the Pakistani ambitions for a bomb? Why did they come to me to ask the Indians to be more forthcoming with Israel?"
Other sources Edward Jay Epstein - 1989
Is there evidence to support the poison gas theory (or any other assassination theory)?