Chief of Army Staff (Bangladesh), List of Presidents of Bangladesh, Politicians


Hussain Muhammad Ershad


(1 February 1930 – 14 July 2019)

Chief of Army staff, Former President of Bangladesh

Hussain Mohammad Ershad, also known as Ershad, was a significant figure in Bangladeshi politics. He had a big impact on the nation’s history, especially in the 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s. Ershad held the position of Chief of Army Staff before staging a bloodless coup in 1982 to take over as President of Bangladesh.

Ershad established a number of socioeconomic changes and programs intended to modernize the nation during his term in power. To ensure local governance, he established a system of regional councils and started a number of infrastructure development initiatives. The government of Ershad also placed a strong emphasis on industrialization, agricultural advancements, and educational reforms.

Ershad’s administration was not without controversy, though. His autocratic governing style and repression of political opposition garnered criticism from a variety of quarters. During his leadership, there were claims of violations of human rights and restrictions on free speech. His decision to establish Islam as the official religion also aroused discussions and caused some people to question the nation’s secularism. Significant obstacles, such as huge rallies and demonstrations calling for democratic reforms, faced Ershad’s administration. He was ultimately compelled to resign in 1990 as a result of a massive mobilization organized by the opposition parties and civic society. He then encountered legal issues and was sent behind bars on corruption-related allegations.

Ershad continued to be politically involved in later years, serving as the leader of the Jatiya Party and running in parliamentary elections. However, he developed health problems, and his influence steadily diminished. In the political history of Bangladesh, Hussain Mohammad Ershad left behind a complicated legacy when he passed away in July 2019.

Life of “Hussain Muhammad Ershad” at a glance

Real Name: Hussain Mohammad Ershad

Date of Birth: 1 February 1930

Date of Death: 14 July 2019

Father Name: Mokbul Hossain

Mother Name: Mazida Begum


  • GM Quader
  • Mozammel Hossain Lalu
  • Merina Rahman


  • President of Bangladesh from 1983 to 1990
  • Founder of Jatiya Party
  • Co Founder of Jatiya Sramik League
  • Chief of Martial Law Administrator
  • Politician
  • Chief of Army staff in 1978
  • Lieutenant General in 1979

Place of Birth: Rangpur District

Place of Death: Dhaka District


  • Carmichael College in Rangpur
  • University of Dhaka in 1950
  • Command and Staff College in 1966

Military Branch Experience and Ranking:

  • Pakistan Army
  • East Bengal Regime of Chittagong in 1952
  • 3rd East Bengal Regime
  • 7th East Bengal Regime 1971


  • Bangladesh Army
  • Adjutant General in 1973
  • Chief of the army staff in 1978
  • Lieutenant General in 1979 (Highest Army Rank)

Religion and World view: Islam

Native Language: Bangla

Married to:

  • Rowshan Ershad in 1956
  • Bidisha Siddique in 2000, later divorced


  • Saad Ershad with Rowshan Ershad
  • Adopted Jebin Ershad
  • Eric Ershad with Bidisha Siddique
  • Adopted Arman Ershad

Awards received:

  • ‘UN Population Award’ in 1987 by ‘United Nations’
  • ‘UN Environment Award’ in 1988 by ‘United Nations’

Early life

Hussain Mohammad Ershad was born on February 1, 1930, in Dinhata, Cooch Behar a town located in present-day West Bengal, India. His family background and childhood experiences played a significant role in shaping his early life. Coming from a Bengali Muslim family, Ershad’s father, Mokbul Hossain, worked as a lawyer, while his mother, Mazida Khatun, managed the household and cared for their children. He had 9 siblings and he was the oldest of all. Raised in a small town, Ershad had a modest upbringing that emphasized the importance of hard work and determination.

During his formative years, Ershad encountered diverse experiences that had a profound impact on his character. It was during this period that he developed a strong interest in politics, which would later become a defining aspect of his life. Ershad’s youth was marked by inquisitiveness and a strong drive for academic excellence, laying the foundation for his future accomplishments.


Muhammad Hussain Ershad had a remarkable educational history, as evidenced by his academic successes. He diligently pursued his education, picking up knowledge and abilities that will help him in his future obligations. Significant turning points marked Ershad’s scholastic experience. He had his early education in Koochbihar, and at Rangpur; studied at Carmichael College in Rangpur and later graduated from the reputed Dhaka University, in 1950 with a Bachelors of Arts degree in Political Science.

Ershad successfully completed his undergraduate studies, showcasing his intellectual progress and establishing the groundwork for a solid career in political science. In 1966, he completed advanced courses from the Command and Staff College in Quetta. Having served with a brigade in Sialkot for a short time, he was assigned to command of the 3rd East Bengal Regiment in 1969 and the 7th East Bengal Regiment in 1971. Ershad’s scholarly endeavors gave him invaluable knowledge of political dynamics and strategic thinking, knowledge that would be useful to him later in life.

Ershad gained a thorough awareness of Bangladesh’s socio-political environment through his academic experiences, and his academic successes shaped his viewpoints and contributions to the nation’s government. His educational experience provided the framework for his later leadership positions, demonstrating the need for a solid academic foundation in developing successful leadership and decision-making.


Career development from Lieutenant-general at Bangladesh Army to President of Bangladesh

Hussain Mohammad Ershad’s professional journey commenced with his entry into the military. Beginning as a young officer, he gradually climbed the ranks, displaying remarkable leadership skills and determination. From being an Army officer to then getting appointed as the Adjutant General of Bangladesh Army and soon following this after the assasination of the then president sheikh mujibur rahman, in the year 1978, Ershad was elected as the Chief of Army staff. Following the same year Ershad was then made Lieutenant-general of Bangladesh army by Ziaur Rahman.

His successful military career paved the way for for his subsequent rise to the presidency and contributions to the nation’s development. Ershad’s political trajectory commenced when he assumed the presidency through a bloodless coup in 1982. This military background provided him with the necessary experience and expertise to navigate the complex political landscape of Bangladesh. As Ershad transitioned into politics and eventually assumed the presidency, he utilized his military insights to implement policies aimed at fostering national progress and development. Ershad’s career within the Bangladesh Army laid a solid foundation for his later achievements in politics.

Contributions, Awards and Achievements

Hussain Mohammad Ershad, made significant contributions and achieved numerous milestones throughout his career. From his early days, Ershad emerged as a prominent military officer and played a crucial role in the 1975 coup that overthrew the government. Later, he founded the Jatiya Party and became the country’s president in 1982. During his presidency, Ershad focused on modernizing Bangladesh’s infrastructure, implementing economic reforms, and promoting social welfare programs. He also introduced a parliamentary form of government and held elections, which increased political participation.

He met with United States President Ronald Reagan in October 1983 to secure continued aid. One popular move by Ershad was his reorganization of local governance. He introduced upazilas, which replaced the larger districts and every upazilas had an elected council. He was given the title “Pallibandhu” by his admirers or supporters because of this initiation.

In March 1989, Ershad’s government passed a law that created elected and independent councils in the district of Chittagong Hill Tract. This move aimed to address long-standing disputes between the ethnic groups in the region, particularly the Buddhists and Bengalis, which had led to civil unrest.

Ershad’s 18-point development program was similar to Zia’s 19-point plan. This involved ending poverty, accessible healthcare, decentralization of administration, increased agricultural output, and micro-credit expansion.
The stabilization of the Bangladesh Armed Forces was another significant accomplishment under Ershad’s leadership. Since the nation’s independence in 1971, it had experienced a number of coups and countercoups. Under his leadership, Bangladeshi soldiers were initially dispatched to United Nations peacekeeping missions.

Ershad’s leadership witnessed the establishment of numerous educational institutions, healthcare facilities, and infrastructure development projects. He implemented various reforms and initiatives aimed at improving the country’s infrastructure, economy, and social sectors. His leadership also witnessed notable advancements in various sectors, highlighting his commitment to improving the overall socio-economic well-being of the Bangladeshi people. Furthermore, he played a pivotal role in strengthening Bangladesh’s foreign relations and enhancing regional cooperation. 

The ‘United Nations’ honored Hussain Muhammad with the ‘UN Population Award’ in 1987 in recognition of his efforts to address population issues in Bangladesh.

The following year, he received the ‘UN Environment Award’ in recognition of his contribution to a global summit on environmental conservation initiatives. Moreover, he had contributed to the formation of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).
Despite facing criticism and challenges, Ershad left a lasting impact on Bangladesh’s political landscape and contributed significantly to the country’s development and progress.

Participation in Bangladesh Liberation War, Rise to Presidency and it’s Aftermath

Ershad, along with other Bengali officers in West Pakistan, was captured as a prisoner of war during the Bangladesh Liberation War. Hussein was returned to Bangladesh by the Pakistan Army in 1973, following the signing of the ‘Simla Agreement’ by India’s Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and Pakistan’s President Zulfiquar Ali Bhutto.

Ershad was appointed Adjutant General of the Bangladesh Army after his return from Pakistan. After the killing of Bangladesh’s first president, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Ershad was appointed Chief of the Army Staff in 1978 and Lieutenant-General of the Army the following year by Ziaur Rahman. On March 24, 1982, he seized control from Abdus Sattar. He imposed martial law, allowing him to remove government and parliament members while also combating corruption by detaining some former cabinet members.

In the years since he has delayed major election dates and founded the ‘Jatiya Party’ in 1986. The military chief was elected President for a five-year term the same year.

Despite the fact that martial law was imposed during the 1986 election, the opposition party, the ‘Awami League,’ gained 30% of the legislative seats. This made Hussain’s actions more popular with the public, and he implemented decentralization of power at both the civil and judicial levels with the newly elected parliament.

The President was forced to reschedule another round of legislative elections in 1988 due to resistance from two major competing parties. He was re-elected President the next year, but this time he lifted martial law.

A coalition of political parties uniting against Ershad in the late 1980s included Khaleda Zia who led BNP, Sheikh Hasina who led Awami League and Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh. They planned protests and walkouts that hampered the nation’s economy. Ershad ultimately resigned in December 1990 as a result of this.

He was charged with corruption and other offenses. He was tried and charged with corruption and felonious possession of weaponry between 1991 and 1996. Hussain Muhammad Ershad ran for parliament twice from prison over the course of six years and won both times.

On January 9, 1997, he was given bail and was released from prison, but only because he had expressed his support for the ‘Awami League’. The next year, the Supreme Court of Bangladesh identified that Hussain Muhammad Ershad’s arrest was illegal. The ‘Jatiya Party’ was divided into three factions in 2000, with the former President in control of the strongest.

Hussain was detained again in 2001, this time in the ‘Janata Tower Case,’ on suspicion of using political authority to assign land. Despite being sentenced to seven years in prison, the political leader served barely four months before being released on bail. On April 8, 2008, Hussain was elected Chairman of the ‘Jatiya Party’ once more. The following year, he ran in the parliamentary elections from Rangpur, Kurigram, and Dhaka, eventually winning all three. The same year, he joined the ‘Mahajote’, or ‘Grand Alliance’ of four political groups.

On May 15, 2011, the Supreme Court of Bangladesh ruled that Hussain Muhammad Ershad’s martial law was unconstitutional.

Personal Life

Hussain Mohammad Ershad, led a dynamic personal life that encompassed various aspects mostly filled with controversies. In 1956, Ershad got married with Rowshan Ershad, who is currently one of the members of Parliament from the party “Jatio Party”; started by her husband. Hussain Ershad and Rowshan Ershad together had 2 children, son – Saad Ershad, a businessman and politician of his father’s party, and daughter – Jebin Ershad, presently living in England with her husband and 2 kids. In 2000, Hussain Ershad had married Bidisha Siddique but ended up divorcing her in 2005 in the charge of hiding her first marriage before marrying Ershad. He had resided with his father in President Park in Baridhara. Eric is a gifted boy who is well-known for having musical talent.

Eric was reportedly Ershad’s favorite son, according to close friends.

“I was too busy with politics to give Eric my time,”. Eric stepped into my life when he was just two years old. The kid hasn’t received any love. Since his early years, he has not experienced maternal affection. I’ve always had a lot going on with Jatiya Party and my other son. One day, Ershad claimed, “I couldn’t show him love and devotion as that deprived him.Also, he had adopted one son named Arman Ershad.

Controversies that were involved in his personal life were: After allegedly divorcing Chowdhury Badruddin in 1986, Marieum Mumtaz claimed to have married Ershad. In 1990, the tale reappeared in a number of magazines and newspapers. Mumtaz filed a lawsuit in the US in 1990 seeking the dissolution of their marriage on the grounds of abandonment.

In 1990, Ershad met with Zeenat Mosharraf at a bungalow, according to a newspaper by the name of Dainik Bangla. BCIC was the owner. Previously, the corporation was presided over by Zeenat’s husband, Mosharraf Hossain.

Furthermore, he was always the talk of the town due to many controversial stories, apart from his political issues. As already said, he had an interest for romantic poems, he kept eyes on beautiful women which led to creation of ‘gossip’ by the media.

Beyond his political engagements, Ershad had a range of hobbies and interests that enriched his personal life. Even though his hobbies were not profoundly known, he had an affinity for music, particularly classical and folk melodies, which served as a means of relaxation and solace for him. Additionally, Ershad was an avid reader, finding solace and knowledge within the pages of various literary works. He had a passion for literature and so he used to write romantic poetry. Along with his political career, Hussain Muhammad Ershad also excelled as a poet. He is known to have written significant pieces like Nobanne Shukher Ghran and Kanak Pradip Jal.
Also, he was known to love the sport “Golf” and thus he was the pioneer person in Bangladesh to bring this game to the country.  He had his own golf court in his mansion.

Ershad’s commitment to philanthropy and volunteer work highlighted his compassionate nature. He believed in giving back to society and making a positive impact on the lives of others. Through various charitable initiatives and foundations, he dedicated his resources to uplifting underprivileged communities, providing access to education, healthcare, and basic amenities. Ershad’s volunteer efforts also extended to disaster relief activities, where he actively participated in providing aid and support to those affected by natural calamities.


Hussain Mohammad Ershad, was often referred to as “the Dictator”, he left behind a profound legacy, making his mark as an Army chief, politician, and president. As a distinguished Army chief, Ershad played a pivotal role in the nation’s military affairs, demonstrating exceptional leadership skills and strategic acumen. Transitioning into politics, he founded the Jatiya Party and swiftly rose to prominence, ultimately serving as the president of Bangladesh for almost a decade. Ershad’s political holding was marked by significant reforms and development initiatives that aimed to uplift the country’s socio-economic condition.

Ershad’s exceptional contributions did not go unnoticed, as he received several awards and recognitions throughout his career. His unwavering dedication to public service and commitment to national development earned him widespread acclaim both domestically and internationally. The honors bestowed upon him served as a testament to his remarkable achievements and enduring influence.

Beyond his individual accomplishments, Ershad’s influence on society and future generations is profound. His visionary leadership and progressive policies paved the way for social progress, economic growth, and political stability in Bangladesh. Ershad’s emphasis on education, infrastructure development, and poverty alleviation left a lasting impact on the country, positively shaping the lives of countless citizens. Moreover, his dedication to democratic values and the rule of law set a precedent for future leaders, inspiring them to prioritize the welfare of the nation and its people.

Hussain Mohammad Ershad’s legacy is one of leadership, innovation, and service to the nation. His contributions as an Army Chief, Politician, and as the President of Bangladesh have left an indelible imprint on Bangladesh’s history and society. His numerous awards and recognitions highlight the profound impact he had on his country and his enduring influence on future generations.


Ershad was admitted to the Combined Military Hospital in Dhaka on June 26, 2019, due to medical issues. Tragically, on June 29, his condition abruptly deteriorated, and on July 14, 2019, he passed away in the hospital. A funeral for him was held two days after his passing.


In summary, Hussain Muhammed Ershad led a remarkable life, starting as a military officer and rising to become the President of Bangladesh. His tenure as the country’s leader from 1982 to 1990 was characterized by significant political and socioeconomic changes. Ershad introduced reforms in various sectors, including education, agriculture, and infrastructure development, aiming to modernize Bangladesh and alleviate poverty. He implemented policies that encouraged foreign investment and promoted industrialization, which contributed to economic growth during his time in office.

In terms of significance and impact, Ershad’s leadership left a lasting impression on Bangladesh’s political landscape. His establishment of the Jatiya Party provided an alternative political platform and contributed to a more pluralistic political environment. While his rule was not without controversy, his initiatives in education and infrastructure laid the foundation for subsequent development efforts in the country.

Overall, Hussain Muhammed Ershad’s legacy is a complex one. While he faced criticism for his authoritarian tendencies, his contributions to Bangladesh’s socioeconomic development cannot be overlooked. His presidency marked a period of change and progress in the nation’s history. The impact of his policies and reforms has shaped the trajectory of Bangladesh’s growth and influenced subsequent governments.


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