Military Wiki
1999 Military Coup d'état
Date12 October 1999
LocationPakistan Islamic Republic of Pakistan
  • Bloodless coup, Democratically elected government of Nawaz Sharif overthrown.
  • Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif arrested and later on exiled, as a result of an agreement, on 11 December 2000.[1]
  • Constitution provisionally suspended
  • Beginning of Pervez Musharraf's rule

Flag of the Pakistani Army.svg Pakistan Armed Forces

State emblem of Pakistan.svg Government of Pakistan

  • Punjab Police
Commanders and leaders
Flag of the Pakistani Army.svg Pervez Musharraf Flag of the Prime Minister of Pakistan.svg Nawaz Sharif
Flag of Punjab.svg Shahbaz Sharif
617,000 170,000
Casualties and losses
0 0

The 1999 Pakistani coup d'état was a bloodless coup d'état in which the Pakistan Army and then Chief of Army Staff and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, General Pervez Musharraf, overthrew elected Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his existing elected government, on 12 October 1999. Two days later, on 14 October 1999, Musharraf declared a state of emergency and issued a Provisional Constitutional Order.[2]

The Supreme Court of Pakistan declared the coup to be legal, but ordered that the army rule be limited to three years. Consequently, Musharraf held a national referendum on allowing himself to continue his rule, on 30 April 2002. The referendum, which Musharraf won with almost 98% of the votes in his favour, was alleged by many, including the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, to be highly fraudulent.[3][4]

The coup[]

After the Kargil War, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was already on bad terms with Chief of Army Staff General Pervez Musharraf. Sharif assigned blame for the political and military disaster on Musharraf, and Musharraf placed the blame on Sharif.[5] On 12 October 1999, Sharif dismissed Musharraf and nominated the ISI Director-General, Lt Gen Ziauddin Butt, in his place.[6] Musharraf, who was, at that time, on an official visit to Sri Lanka, immediately boarded a commercial airliner back to Pakistan. Also on board were Major-General Tariq Majid and Brigadier-General Nadeem Taj. In an attempt to thwart Musharraf's return to Karachi, Pakistan, Sharif ordered the plane to be diverted to Nawabshah.[7] When this failed, Sharif ordered the Karachi airport to refuse to allow the plane to land; the airport used civil aviation planes to block the runway. The Pakistan Army, under directions from Lieutenant General Muzaffar Usmani, seized the control tower and allowed the plane to land. After this, troops took control of the state-run television station in Islamabad, encircled the Prime Minister House, gained control of international airports, and cut international phone lines.[8]

On 14 October 1999, Musharraf declared a state of emergency and issued a Provisional Constitutional Order. These designated Musharraf as Chief Executive, suspended the federal and provincial Parliaments, and suspended the Constitution, although they left Muhammad Rafiq Tarar in office as President.[9]

Text of Proclamation of Emergency[]

Soon after taking over the country, emergency was declared in the country. Following is the text of the Proclamation of Emergency declared by Musharraf:[10]

In pursuance of deliberations and decisions of chiefs of staff of the Armed Forces and corps commanders of Pakistan Army, I General Pervez Musharraf, chairman joint chiefs of staff committee and chief of army staff, proclaim emergency throughout Pakistan and assume the office of the chief executive of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

I hereby order and proclaim as follows:

(a) The constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan shall remain in abeyance

(b) The president of Pakistan shall continue in office

(c) The National Assembly, the provincial assemblies and Senate shall stand suspended

(d) The chairman and deputy chairman of the Senate, the speaker and deputy speaker of the National Assembly and the provincial assemblies shall stand suspended

(e) The prime minister, the federal ministers, ministers of state, advisers to the prime minister, parliamentary secretaries, the provincial governors, the provincial chief ministers, the provincial ministers and the advisers to the chief ministers shall cease to hold office

(f) The whole of Pakistan will come under the control of the Armed Forces of Pakistan.

This proclamation shall come into force at once and be deemed to have taken effect on the 12th day of October, 1999.

Text of Provisional Constitutional Order 1999[]

Following is the text of Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO) promulgated by Musharraf. After its proclamation, the order was modified on multiple occasions:[11]

In pursuance of Proclamation of the 14th day of October, 1999, and in exercise of all powers enabling him in that behalf, the Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee and Chief of Army Staff and Chief Executive of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan under the Proclamation of Emergency of 14th day of October 1999 (hereinafter referred to as the Chief Executive) is pleased to make and promulgate the following Order:


(1) This Order may be called Provisional Constitution Order No.1 of 1999;
(2) It extends to the whole of Pakistan;
(3) It shall come into force at once.


(1) Notwithstanding the abeyance of the provisions of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, hereinafter referred to as the Constitution, Pakistan shall, subject to this Order and any other Orders made by the Chief Executive, be governed, as nearly as may be, in accordance with the Constitution.
(2) Subject as aforesaid, all courts in existence immediately before the commencement of this Order, shall continue to function and to exercise their respective powers and jurisdiction provided that the Supreme Court or High Courts and any other court shall not have the powers to make any order against the Chief Executive or any person exercising powers or jurisdiction under his authority;
(3) The Fundamental Rights conferred by Chapter I of Part II of the Constitution, not in conflict with the Proclamation of Emergency or any Order made thereunder from time to time, shall continue to be in force.


(1) The President shall act on, and in accordance with the advice of the Chief Executive;
(2) The Governor of the Province shall act on, and in accordance with the instructions of the Chief Executive.


(1) No Court, Tribunal or other authority shall call or permit to be called in question the proclamation of Emergency of 14th day of October, 1999 or any Order made in pursuance thereof.
(2) No judgment, decree, writ, order or process whatsoever shall be made or issued by any court or tribunal against the Chief Executive or any authority designated by the Chief Executive.

5. Notwithstanding the abeyance of the provisions of the Constitution, but subject to the Orders of the Chief Executive, all laws other than the Constitution shall continue in force until altered, amended or repealed by the Chief Executive or any authority designated by him.

6. The Proclamation of Emergency issued on 28th day of May 1998, shall continue but subject to the provisions of Proclamation of Emergency dated 14th day of October 1999 and this Provincial Constitution Order and any other Order made thereunder.

7. All persons who, immediately before the commencement of this Order, were in the service of Pakistan as defined in Article 260 of the Constitution and those persons who immediately before such commencement were in office as Judge of the Supreme Court, the Federal Shariat Court or a High Court or Auditor-General or Ombudsman and Chief Ehtesab Commissioner, shall continue in the said service on the same terms and conditions and shall enjoy the same privileges, if any.

Provisional Constitutional Order judges oath[]

On 26 January 2000, all the members of the superior judiciary was asked to take oath under the Provisional Constitutional Order. Six of the thirteen Supreme Court justices refused to take oath, an issue identified as the "biggest challenge" to the new government. Other High Court justices also refused to take the oath. Those who refused were removed from office. The Provisional Constitutional Order disallowed challenging any actions made by the military, and many judges who refused to take the oath cited infringements upon the judiciary system such as this as their reasoning for refusing. Asma Jahangir, a Pakistani lawyer and human rights advocate, said, "The military rulers are doing their best to erode the independence of the judiciary. I salute those judges who have refused to take the oath."[2]

Legal challenge to coup[]

On 15 November 1999, the first legal challenge to the coup was filed in the Supreme Court of Pakistan by Syed Zafar Ali Shah, a member of the suspended National Assembly. He requested the court declare the military takeover "illegal and unconstitutional", and order the restoration of Sharif's government and of the National Parliament and four provincial assemblies that were suspended.[12] Later, similar appeals were filed by the Pakistan Muslim League (N), Iqbal Haider of Muslim Welfare Movement, and then by Wahabul Khairi, an advocate.[13]

On 1 December 1999, a five-member bench of Supreme Court was constituted to hear these appeals. The bench headed by Chief Justice Saeeduzzaman Siddiqui and had Justice Mohammad Bashir Jahangiri, Justice Nasir Aslam Zahid, Justice Abdur Rehman Khan and Justice Wajeeh-ud-Din Ahmed as other members.[13]


2002 Referendum[]

On 12 May 2000, the Supreme Court of Pakistan declared the coup to be legal and justified, but also ordered that the army rule in Pakistan be limited to three years.[14] This led Musharraf to hold a national referendum on 30 April 2002. 98% of the voters favored Musharraf, and this extended his presidential term for another five years.

Allegations of illegitimacy[]

Many groups denounced the referendum as extremely fraudulent. Reuters journalists claimed to see ballot stuffing and pressure to vote being placed on governmental employees. Ibn Abdur Rehman, director of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, dismissed the referendum as "farcical", also claiming that votes were stuffed. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan stated that the voting irregularities "exceeded its worst fears".[4]

The United States offered no opinion about the legitimacy of the election. Don McKinnon, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth of Nations, expressed their wish that Pakistan return to a democratic government.

Although the referendum was challenged, the Supreme Court rejected the challenge and upheld the result. Information Minister Nisar Memon dismissed allegations of fraud as propaganda created by the opposition. He stated that "Those who opposed the referendum preferred to stay at home and didn't create any problem." [3]

See also[]


  1. Harding, Luke (11 December 2000). "Pakistan frees Sharif to exile in Saudi Arabia". The Guardian. London. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Pakistan Judges Refuse Oath Demanded by Pakistan's Rulers". 31 January 2000. Retrieved 7 May 2011. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 de Vries, Lloyd (1 May 2002). "Musharraf Claims Victory In Pakistan". Retrieved 7 May 2011. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Musharraf wins huge backing". 1 May 2002. Retrieved 23 August 2013. 
  5. Rashid, Ahmed (13 October 1999). "Seeds of conflict lie in summer's Kashmir crisis". Retrieved 29 March 2011. 
  6. Dugger, Celia W. (14 October 1999). "Pakistan Calm After Coup; Leading General Gives No Clue About How He Will Rule". Retrieved 6 May 2011. 
  7. "'Plot to kill' coup leader". 14 October 1999. Retrieved 6 May 2011. 
  8. Weiner, Tim (17 October 1999). "Countdown to Pakistan's Coup: A Duel of Nerves in the Air". Retrieved 6 May 2011. 
  9. "Pakistan". Background Notes. U.S. Department of State. Archived from the original on 4 May 2011. Retrieved 7 May 2011. 
  10. "Text of Musharraf's declaration". 14 October 1999. Retrieved 6 May 2011. 
  11. "Provisional Constitution Order No. 1 of 1999". Archived from the original on 15 June 2011. Retrieved 7 May 2011. 
  12. "Court moved on Pak take-over". 15 November 1999. Retrieved 7 May 2011. 
  13. 13.0 13.1 "Supreme Court bench to hear petitions against coup". 2 December 1999. Archived from the original on 13 June 2011. Retrieved 7 May 2011. 
  14. "Pakistan court limits army rule". 12 May 2000. Retrieved 7 May 2011. 

External links[]

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