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Proclamation of Martial Law 1958

On 7 October 1958, President Iskander Mirza declared Martial Law in the entire country and appointed General Ayub Khan as the Chief Martial Law Administrator. The following are the texts of President Iskander Mirza's presidential order imposing the Martial Law, and General Ayub's proclamation in response. Both were issued on 7 October 1958.

Proclamation of Martial Law

President Mirza's Order
General Ayub's Proclamation

Iskander Mirza's Presidential Order of the Day

No. F. 81/Pres/58, 25th. October, 1958, Gazette, 31st. October, 1958- The following PROCLAMATION made by the President at 10.30 p.m. on the 7th Day of October, 1958, is published for general information :

For the last two years, I have been watching, with the deepest anxiety, the ruthless struggle for power, corruption, the shameful exploitation of our simple, honest, patriotic and industrious masses, the lack of decorum, and the prostitution of Islam for political ends. There have been a few honorable exceptions. But being in a minority they have not been able to assert their influence in the affairs of the country.

These despicable activities have led to a dictatorship of the lowest order. Adventurers and exploiters have flourished to the detriment of the masses and are getting richer by their nefarious practices.

Despite my repeated endeavors, no serious attempt has been made to tackle the food crises. Food has been a problem of life and death for us in a country which should be really surplus. Agriculture and land administration have been made a handmaiden of politics so that in our present system of government, no political party will be able to take any positive action to increase production. In East Pakistan, on the other hand, there is a well organized smuggling of food, medicines and other necessities of life. The masses there suffer due to the shortages so caused in, and the consequent high prices of, these commodities. Import of food has been a constant and serious drain on our foreign exchange earnings in the last few years, with the result that the Government is constrained to curtail the much needed internal development projects.

Some of our politicians have lately been talking of bloody revolution. Another type of adventurer among them think it fit to go to foreign countries and attempt direct alignment with them which can only described as high treason.

The disgraceful scene enacted recently in the East Pakistan Assembly is known to all. I am told that such episodes were common occurrences in pre-partition Bengal. Whether they were or not, it is certainly not a civilized mode of procedure. You do not raise the prestige of your country by beating the Speaker, killing the Deputy Speaker and desecrating the National Flag.

The mentality of the political parties has sunk so low that I am unable any longer to believe that elections will improve the present chaotic internal situation and enable us to form a strong and stable Government capable of dealing with the innumerable and complex problems facing us today. We cannot get men from the Moon. The same group of people who have brought Pakistan on the verge of ruination will rig the elections for their own ends. They will come back more revengeful, because I am sure the elections will be contested, mainly, on personal, regional and sectarian basis. When they return, they will use the same methods which have made a tragic farce of democracy and are the main cause of the present widespread frustration in the country. However much the administration may try, I am convinced, judging by shifting loyalties and the ceaseless and unscrupulous scramble for office, that elections will be neither free nor fair. They will not solve our difficulties. On the contrary, they are likely to create greater unhappiness and disappointment leading ultimately to a really bloody revolution. Recently, we had elections for the Karachi Municipal Corporation. Twenty percent of the electorate exercised their votes, and out of these, about fifty per cent were bogus votes.

We hear threats and cries of civil disobedience in order to retain private volunteer organizations and to break up the One Unit. These disruptive tendencies are a good indication of their patriotism and the length to which politicians and adventurers are prepared to go to achieve their parochial aims.

Our foreign policy is subjected to unintelligent and irresponsible criticism, not for patriotic motives, but from selfish view points often by the very people who were responsible for it. We desire to have friendly relations with all nations, but political adventurers try their best to create bad blood and misunderstandings between us and countries like the U.S.S.R., the U.A.R. and the People’s Republic of China. Against India, of course, they scream for war, knowing full well that they will be nowhere near the firing line. In no country in the world, do political parties treat foreign policy in the manner it has been done in Pakistan. To dispel the confusion so caused, I categorically reiterate that we shall continue to follow a policy which our interests and geography demand and that we shall honour all our international commitments which, as is well known, we have undertaken to safeguard the security of Pakistan and, as a peace loving nation, to play our part in averting the danger of war from this troubled world.

For the last three years, I have been doing my utmost to work the Constitution in a democratic way. I have laboured to bring about coalition after coalition, hoping that it would stablize the administration and that the affairs of the country would be run in the interests of the masses. My detractors, in their dishonest ways, have on every opportunity, called these attempts Palace intrigues. It has become fashionable to put all the blame on the President. A wit said the other day, "If it rains too much it is the fault of the President and if it does not rain it is the fault of the President." If only I alone were concerned, I would go on taking these fulminations with the contempt they deserve. But the intention of these traitors and unpatriotic elements is to destroy the prestige of Pakistan and the Government by attacking the Head of the State. They have succeeded to a great extent, and, if this state of affairs is allowed to go on, they will achieve their ultimate purpose.

My appraisal of the internal situation had led me to believe that a vast majority of the people no longer have any confidence in the present system of Government and are getting more and more disillusioned and disappointed and are becoming dangerously resentful of the manner in which they have been exploited. Their resentment and bitterness are justifiable. The leaders have not been able to render them the service they deserve and have failed to prove themselves worthy of the confidence the masses had reposed in them.

The Constitution which was brought into being on 23rd March, 1956, after so many tribulations, is unworkable. It is full of dangerous compromises so that Pakistan will disintegrate internally if the inherent malaise is not removed. To rectify them, the country must first be taken to sanity by a peaceful revolution. Then, it is my intention to collect a number of patriotic persons to examine our problems in the political field and devise a Constitution more suitable to the genius of the Muslim people. When it is ready, and at the appropriate time, it will be submitted to the referendum of the people.

It is said that the Constitution is sacred. But more sacred than the Constitution or anything else is the country and the welfare and happiness of its people. As Head of the State, my foremost duty before my God and the people is the integrity of Pakistan. It is seriously threatened by the ruthlessness of traitors and political adventurers whose selfishness, thirst for power and unpatriotic conduct cannot be restrained by a government set up under the present system. Nor can I any longer remain a spectator of activities designed to destroy the country. After deep and anxious thought, I have come to the regrettable conclusion that I would be failing in my duty if I did not take steps, which in my opinion, are inescapable in present conditions, to save Pakistan from complete disruption. I have, therefore, decided that :-

  1. The Constitution of the 23rd March, 1956 will be abrogated.
  2. The Central and Provincial Government will be dismissed with immediate effect.
  3. The National Parliament and Provincial Assemblies will be dissolved.
  4. All political parties will be abolished.
  5. Until alternative arrangements are made, Pakistan will come under Martial Law. I hereby appoint General Mohammad Ayub Khan, Commander-in-Chief, Pakistan Army, as the Chief Martial Law Administrator and place all the Armed Forces of Pakistan under his command.

To the valiant Armed Forces of Pakistan, I have to say that having been closely associated with them since the very inception of Pakistan, I have learned to admire their patriotism and loyalty. I am putting a great strain on them. I fully realize this, but I ask you, officers and men of the Armed Forces, on your service depends the future existence of Pakistan as an independent nation and a bastion in these parts of the Free World. Do your job without fear or favour and may God help you.

To the people of Pakistan I talk as a brother and a fellow compatriot. Present action has been taken with the utmost regret but I have had to do it in the interests of the country and the masses, finer men than whom it is difficult to imagine. To the patriots and the law abiding, I promise you will be happier and freer. The political adventurers, the smugglers, the black marketers, the hoarders, will be unhappy and their activities will be severely restricted. As for the traitors, they had better flee the country if they can and while the going is good.

General Ayub Khan's proclamation

Government of Pakistan Notification No. 977/58 dated 7 October 1958, Gazette Extraordinary, 15 October 1958

  1. Whereas I adjudge it essential for national requirements to exercise jurisdiction within the international boundaries of PAKISTAN, I, the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces of PAKISTAN, do hereby give notice as follows.
  2. Martial Law Regulations and Orders will be published in such manner as is conveniently possible. Any person contravening the said Regulations and Orders shall be liable under Martial Law to the penalties stated in the Regulations.
  3. The said Regulations may prescribe special penalties for offenders under the ordinary law.
  4. The said Regulations may appoint special Courts for the trial and punishment of contravention of the said Regulations and Orders and of offenders under the ordinary law.

Mohammad Ayub Khan, HP, HJ,
Supreme Commander and Chief Martial Law Administrator in PAKISTAN

Source: Friends Not Masters by Mohammad Ayub Khan. Published by Oxford University Press (Pakistan) 1967

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