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Martial Laws in Pakistan with Dates and Names

Here, you will find how many martial laws in Pakistan are implemented till 2023. All Martial Laws in Pakistan with a list of Dates and Names of the persons who imposed them are given in this article.

Martial law in Pakistan

  1. First Martial Law: 7th October 1958 by Iskandar Mirza
  2. 2nd Martial Law: 25th March 1969 by General Yahya Khan
  3. 3rd Martial Law: 5th July 1977 by General Zia ul Haq
  4. 4th Martial Law: 12th October 1999 by General Pervaiz Musharraf
All martial law in pakistan dates
All martial law in Pakistan dates

Details of All martial law in Pakistan dates

Since its independence from the British yoke on August 14, 1947, Pakistan had been under army rule for almost half of the period of its life. Martial law was declared in this period three to four times. These coups happened because the initial years of Pakistan’s life were tumultuous to such an extent that the country’s first premier, Nawabzada Liaquat Ali Khan, was assassinated in Rawalpindi on October 16, 1951, and after him, no government was allowed to work freely.

Here is a detailed overview of the military rules in Pakistan since its independence:

1. First Martial law in Pakistan: 7th October 1958 by Iskandar Mirza

After Governor General Ghulam Muhammad was compelled to go on a two-month leave to the United Kingdom, Major General Iskander Mirza entered the office of the Governor-General on August 7, 1955. President Iskander Mirza could not develop proper working relations with all the coming premiers. Muhammad Ali Bogra (April 17, 1953, to August 11, 1955) was the first prime minister under Mirza but he soon resigned and was replaced by Chaudhry Muhammad Ali (August 11, 1955 to September 12, 1956), Hussain Shaheed Suhrawardy (September 12, 1956 to October 18, 1957), I. I.Chundrigar (October 18, 1957 to December 16, 1957) and Malik Feroze Khan Noon (December 18, 1957 to October 7, 1958).

During Mirza’s rule, the new Constitution was approved by the Constituent Assembly on February 29, 1956, and was promulgated on March 23, 1956. The Constitution was based on the Objectives Resolution, which was adopted on March 12, 1949. This constitution proclaimed the Dominion of Pakistan as the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and Iskander Mirza was sworn in as its first president.

Then came the fateful day of October 7, 1958, when Iskander Mirza proclaimed martial law throughout the country and appointed the Army Chief, General Muhammad Ayub Khan, as Chief Martial Law Administrator. The constitution was abrogated, central and provincial governments were dismissed, National and provincial assemblies stood dissolved, and all political parties were abolished. The next day, the president appointed an Advisory Council, consisting of a secretary-general and seven secretaries of ministries. However, on October 10, the president promulgated an Order stating that notwithstanding the abrogation of the 1956 Constitution, Pakistan shall be governed as nearly as may be in accordance with the late Constitution.

On October 24, 1958, President Mirza constituted a 12-man Central Cabinet, including General Azam Khan, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Manzoor Qadir. General Ayub Khan was appointed prime minister. Iskander Mirza relinquished his office of president on October 27, 1958, and handed over all powers to CMLA Ayub Khan, who promulgated the Presidential Cabinet Order the next day according to which the Cabinet would have no prime minister and it would work directly under the president.

Exactly one year after taking power (October 27, 1959), General Ayub became Field Marshal and promulgated the Basic Democracies Order, providing for constitution of Basic Democratic institutions ranging from the Union Councils to Provincial Development Advisory Councils. He held the elections for Basic Democracy Units on January 2, 1960, electing their 80,000 members by adult franchise. These BD members went to the polls on January 14, to express, through secret ballot, their confidence or lack of it, in President Ayub Khan.

Ayub Khan was sworn in as elected President on February 17, 1960. On June 8, 1962, he announced to lift martial law after nearly four years, and also took oath of the office of the President under the new Constitution, enacted by him on March 1, 1962, providing presidential form of government.

On January 2, 1965, he was re-elected president in presidential election against MS Fatima Jinnah, sister of Father of the Nation, Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, and a candidate of Combined Opposition Parties. However, the COP had refused to accept the election results.

Declaration of martial law in 1958 was solely due to unpleasant and uncertain situation as well as political instability because of fast political manoeuvres and changes that took place in the country.

2. 2nd Martial Law: 25th March 1969 by General Yahya Khan

On March 25, 1969, amidst growing political turmoil, Pakistan’s Army Chief, General Agha Muhammad Yahya Khan, declared martial law, dissolving the assemblies and assuming the role of the president. This occurred after President Ayub Khan resigned due to mounting unrest against his regime, marked by allegations of corruption and election rigging. Upon seizing power, Yahya Khan formed a three-member Council of Administration on April 3, 1969, placing himself as Chairman. This council was assigned the task of governing the nation, representing both East and West Pakistan. To provide a legal framework for martial law governance, Yahya Khan issued the Provisional Constitution Order on April 4, 1969.

As part of his centralization effort, Yahya Khan expanded the roles of the martial law administrators in East and West Pakistan on April 8, 1969. They were instructed to carry out the duties of governors, thus consolidating power under the military regime.

However, the period of martial law under Yahya Khan is notably associated with the secession of East Pakistan in 1971, following a military crackdown and a catastrophic war. Following Pakistan’s unsuccessful attempt in the 1971 Indo-Pak war, Yahya Khan resigned on December 20, 1971. Power was then handed over to Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the Chairman of the Pakistan People’s Party, who became the president and the first civilian Chief Martial Law Administrator, signifying a shift back to civilian rule.

3. 3rd Martial Law: 5th July 1977 by General Zia ul Haq

The army staged third coup when General Ziaul Haq overthrew the Bhutto government and took over as CMLA on July 5, 1977. The federal and provincial governments were dismissed; political parties were banned; National and provincial assemblies were dissolved; the constitution was put in abeyance; civil courts continued to function as usual but fundamental rights were suspended.

On July 15, 1977, Justice Mushtaq Hussein of the Lahore High Court was appointed chairman of a committee to formulate election procedures and laws. Two days later, Justice Mushtaq Hussein also took over as the Chief Election Commissioner and announced that elections would be held in the first fortnight of October 1977 under the supervision of the armed forces and the judiciary. October 18 was fixed for the general elections and nomination papers were invited between August 7 and 18, 1977.

On September 21, 1977, General Zia issued a 15-point code of ethics to regulate the election campaign which started from September 18. The code prohibited all actions and deeds, including words, symbolic representations, which were likely to prejudice the solidarity of Pakistan and its Islamic foundations.

On October 1, the elections were postponed indefinitely. On November 10, 1977 the Supreme Court unanimously validated the imposition of martial law, under the doctrine of necessity.

In its judgement dismissing Begum Nusrat Bhutto’s petition challenging detention under martial law of former Prime Minister Z.A. Bhutto and 10 others, the nine-member court headed by Chief Justice Anwarul Haq observed that after massive rigging of elections followed by complete breakdown of law and order situation bringing the country on the brink of disaster, the imposition of martial law had become inevitable. Zia’s martial law came to an end on December 30, 1985.

4. 4th Martial Law: 12th October 1999 by General Pervaiz Musharraf

Pakistan came under military rule again on October 12, 1999, when General Pervez Musharraf seized power in a bloodless coup and dissolved the elected government of Nawaz Sharif. However, no Martial law was imposed. As he announced on July 11, 2002, general elections were held on October 10, 2002. But before the elections, a referendum was held on April 30, 2002 for him to be elected as the president for another five years. On November 3, 2007, he declared a state of emergency in the country which is claimed to be equivalent to the state of martial law as the constitution was suspended. On November 12, 2007, Musharraf issued some amendments to the Military Act, which gave the armed forces some additional powers.

Pervez Musharraf, who ruled Pakistan as Chief Executive from 1999-2002 and as president from 2001-08, resigned on August 18, 2008 in the face of impeachment. Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali, Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Shaukat Aziz served as elected prime ministers during his era.

Conclusion of Martial Law In Pakistan

The history of martial law in Pakistan is punctuated by a series of coups, with military intervention into governance happening on four significant occasions. Each incident was driven by underlying political instability, necessitating an interim period of stringent control to restore order. The first martial law was imposed in 1958 by President Iskander Mirza, who later handed power to General Ayub Khan. The second occurred in 1969 when General Agha Muhammad Yahya Khan seized power after Ayub Khan stepped down. The third was enforced by General Ziaul Haq in 1977, marking a period of profound alteration in Pakistan’s political landscape. The last occurred in 1999 under General Pervez Musharraf, who didn’t formally declare martial law but seized power in a coup, effectively suspending democratic governance.

These episodes of martial law, while intended to bring stability, significantly hampered the democratic evolution of Pakistan, leading to an oscillating pattern of civilian and military rule. These power shifts also exposed the pervasive corruption, inefficiency, and political upheavals that have plagued the country since its independence. As a result, the prospect of sustainable political stability in Pakistan remains an unresolved challenge. As Pakistan navigates its future, learning from these past experiences and building robust democratic institutions that can withstand such upheavals will be crucial. The story of martial law in Pakistan thus serves as a stark reminder of the cost of political instability and the necessity of strong democratic governance.


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Martial law in Pakistan

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Azad

    3rd martial law was imposed on 5 July 1977, not on 25 July by G. Zia ul haq…

  2. CSS Tunner

    This is an amazing blog and I found it very informative. You have done a great job and keep writing such wonderful articles.

  3. Anees Qureshi

    this is very informative articl i really like it thanks a lot. you guys keep it up

  4. Maheen

    We Pakistanis really do have a knack for martial laws.

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