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Military coups in Pakistan began in 1958 and there have been three successful attempts. There have also been numerous unsuccessful attempts since 1949. Since its independence in 1947, Pakistan has spent several decades under military rule (1958 – 1971, 1977 – 1988, 1999 – 2008).

1958 coup[edit]

In 1958, the first Pakistani President Major General Iskander Mirza dismissed the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan and the government of Prime Minister Feroz Khan Noon, appointing army commander-in-chief Gen. Ayub Khan as the Chief martial law administrator. Thirteen days later, Mirza himself was deposed by Ayub Khan, who appointed himself president.[1]

1977 coup (Operation Fair Play)[edit]

Main article: Operation Fair Play

Codenamed as Fair Play, the program was executed at the 4 July 1977 by the unified Pakistan military.[2] Chief of army staff General Zia-ul-Haq, with the support from the Chairman joint chiefs Admiral Mohammad Shariff oversaw the coup d'état against the government of then-Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.[2][3] Near on July 4, 1977 the Chief of army staff General Zia authorized orders to confined Prime Minister Bhutto, the marxist leaders of the PPP, and other figures of the rightist alliance, the National Alliance.[2] In a nationally televised address, General Zia announced that the Parliament and all provincial assemblies were dissolved, and that the Constitution of Pakistan was suspended.[2]

The martial law enforced by President General Zia, it introduced the strict but modern form of conservatism which promoted the nationalistic and religious programmes.[4]

1999 coup[edit]

In October, 1999 senior officers loyal to army chief Gen. Pervez Musharraf arrested prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his ministers after thwarting the Sharif regime's attempt to dismiss Musharraf and prevent his plane from landing in Pakistan as he returned from a visit to Sri Lanka.[5]

Indirect intervention[edit]

The death of Zia-ul-Haq led to the appointment of Ghulam Ishaq Khan as President. Khan had vast, unchecked Presidential powers. And was known to be close to the Pakistani military, Khan had dismissed both Benazir Bhutto in 1990 and Nawaz Sharif as Prime Minister in 1993, the latter resulted in his own resignation and is known in Pakistan as the Waheed Kakar formula.

Unsuccessful coup attempts[edit]

There have been numerous unsuccessful coup attempts in Pakistani history. The first noted attempt was the Rawalpindi conspiracy in 1949 led by Maj. Gen. Akbar Khan along with left-wing activists and sympathetic officers against the government of Liaquat Ali Khan, Pakistan's first prime minister.[1] Prominent poet-intellectual Faiz Ahmed Faiz was suspected of involvement.[6] In 1980, a plot by Maj. Gen. Tajammul Hussain Malik to assassinate Zia-ul-Haq on Pakistan Day on March 23, 1980 was exposed and thwarted.[2][7] In 1995, a coup attempt against the government of Benazir Bhutto led by Maj. Gen. Zahirul Islam Abbasi with the support of Islamic extremists was foiled.


  1. ^ a b Hassan Abbas (2005). Pakistan's drift into extremism: Allah, the army, and America's war on terror. M.E. Sharpe. pp. 16–40. ISBN 978-0-7656-1496-4. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Pakistan, Zia and after. Abhinav Publications. 1989. pp. 20–35. ISBN 978-81-7017-253-6. 
  3. ^ Rafiq Dossani (2005). Prospects for Peace in South Asia. Stanford University Press. pp. 46–50. ISBN 978-0-8047-5085-1. 
  4. ^ Cohen, Stephen P. (2004). The idea of Pakistan (1. paperback ed. ed.). Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press. ISBN 0815715021. 
  5. ^ "World: South Asia : Pakistan army seizes power". BBC NEWS. 1999-10-12. Retrieved 2009-04-22. 
  6. ^ Muhammad Yusuf Abbasi (1992). Pakistani culture: a profile. National Institute of Historical and Cultural Research. ISBN 978-969-415-023-9. 
  7. ^ World Focus, Volume 2. H.S. Chhabra. 1981. 

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_coups_in_Pakistan — Please support Wikipedia.
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32 news items

Daily Times
Sun, 28 Jun 2015 17:11:15 -0700

Taking this argument further, it can be suggested that the reasons for military coups in Pakistan were the personal ambitions of coup leaders. The idea that the military was fragmented has particular salience in those times when the military leaders ...

The Diplomat

The Diplomat
Wed, 20 Aug 2014 14:33:45 -0700

Historically, military coups in Pakistan have been precipitated by the preeminence of a particularly politically skilled CoAS — Ayub Khan, Zia ul-Haq and Pervez Musharraf certainly. The current Pakistani political landscape seems to lack such an ...
Eurasia Review
Fri, 25 Jul 2014 02:22:30 -0700

In this wake, questions are being asked within Pakistan whether this amounts to licence to Pakistan Army to resort to military coups in Pakistan after 15 years and has Pakistani self-respect gone so low as that external guarantees are required for ...

Toronto Sun

Toronto Sun
Tue, 02 Sep 2014 20:56:15 -0700

Once upon a time, military coups in Pakistan were bloodless. If the generals were not pleased with the elected or appointed prime minister, they would simply send in the infamous 111 Brigade headquartered in the capital to the prime minister's ...


Wed, 04 Feb 2015 08:54:05 -0800

ISLAMABAD: In a fresh diplomatic row between Pakistan and Bangladesh, a Pakistani High Commission official based in Dhaka was declared persona non grata by the Bangladeshi government and was asked to leave the country. "Diplomatic official Mazhar ...
Economic Times
Fri, 13 Jan 2012 17:39:57 -0800

Chaudhary Shujaat Hussain, a seasoned politician and a puppet Prime Minister of former military dictator Gen Pervez Musharraf, once made a memorable one-liner about military coups in Pakistan - it takes just "two trucks and a jeep" to do so.

Voice of America

Voice of America
Tue, 18 Feb 2014 04:01:50 -0800

ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN— Pakistan's former president, Pervez Musharraf, has appeared in a special court to face treason charges, after repeated no-shows for weeks. The trial of the former army leader is unprecedented in a country where the military has ...

Washington Post

Washington Post
Sun, 06 Oct 2013 14:25:00 -0700

There have been three successful military coups in Pakistan, including the one led by Musharraf in 1999 that resulted in Sharif being ousted from his second term and exiled to Saudi Arabia. In May, Sharif was returned to power in a historic national ...

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