Provisional Constitutional Order
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Provisional Constitutional Order
Provisional Constitutional Order
Martial law
Territorial extentWhole of State of Pakistan
Enacted byMartial law
Administered byChief Martial Law Administrator
Legislative history
Bill published on25 March 1981
Introduced byZia military Govt.
First reading14 October 1999
Second reading7 November 2007
White paperConstitution Petition No. 8 & 9 of 2009
Related legislation
18th Amendment
Status: Repealed

The Provisional Constitutional Order, popularly known as PCO, is an emergency and extra-constitutional order that suspends either wholly or partially the Constitution of Pakistan-- the supreme law of land.[1] The PCO fulfills and act as the temporary order while the constitution is held in abeyance or suspension.[2] Mostly, the orders have been enforced during the times of the martial law imposed by the armed forces of the country against the civilian governments.[1]

Overview of Provisional Constitutional Order

Provisional Constitutional Order, 1981

Soon after the martial law went into immediate effect in 1977, the constitution of Pakistan was suspended. The first PCO was declared on 24 March 1981 by then-President and chief of army staff General Zia-ul-Haq.[3] It was the first PCO having declared by the President General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq in the history of the country.[3]

Under this new order, the senior justices of the Supreme Court of Pakistan were asked to take an oath of office under the provisions set by the PCO.[3] On March 1981, President Zia terminated 19 senior justices of the supreme court when they refused to take the oath.[4]Chief Justice Dorab Patel and Senior justice Fakhrauddin Ebrahim declined to take the oath; thus opting for retirement.[4] Senior justice Anwarul Haq also resigned after refusing to take the oath whilst the Senior justice Mushtaq Hussain who was willing to take the oath was not asked to do so.[4]

Senior justices Hussain and Haq had previously approved Bhutto's hanging were reportedly restrained to take an oath under the secretive directives issued by President Zia.[4] All of these Senior justices were asked to tender their resignation, which they did.[4]

Provisional Constitutional Order, 1999

Political tensions arising after the border incidents with India that nearly pushed the two countries at the brink of the war, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee and chief of army staff General Pervez Musharraf immediately imposed the martial law against government of Prime minister Nawaz Sharif, on 14 October 1999.

General Musharraf effectively imposed the state of emergency and suspended the constitution after introducing the provisional order. Nearly, all Senior justices were forcefully required to take an oath of office under this new order, and concerns were raised that this would "erode the independence of the judiciary".[5]

Provisional Constitutional Order, 2007

In 2007, another Provisional Constitutional Order was issued by General Pervez Musharraf. The PCO was issued on November 3, 2007 and later amended on November 15, 2007. It was lifted on December 16, 2007.

Supreme Court of Pakistan

  • Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry (Refused to take oath under PCO)
  • Rana Bhagwandas (Refused to take oath under PCO)
  • Javed Iqbal (Refused to take oath under PCO)
  • Abdul Hameed Dogar (Took oath under PCO and become Chief Justice)
  • Sardar Muhammad Raza Khan (Refused to take oath under PCO)
  • Khalil-ur-Rehman Ramday (Refused to take oath under PCO)
  • Muhammad Nawaz Abbasi (Took oath under PCO)
  • Faqir Muhammad Khokhar (Took oath under PCO)
  • Falak Sher (Refused to take oath under PCO)
  • Shakir Ullah Jan (Refused to take oath under PCO)
  • M Javed Butter (Took oath under PCO)
  • Tassaduq Hussain Jillani (Refused to take oath under PCO)
  • Saiyed Saeed Ashhad (Took oath under PCO)
  • Nasir ul Mulk (Refused to take oath under PCO)
  • Raja Fayyaz (Refused to take oath under PCO)
  • Chaudhry Ejaz Ahmed (Refused to take oath under PCO)
  • Syed Jamshed Ali (Refused to take oath under PCO)
  • Ghulam Rabbani (Refused to take oath under PCO)
  • Hamid Ali Mirza (Refused to take oath under PCO)


  1. ^ a b Omar, Imtiaz (2002). Emergency powers and the courts in India and Pakistan. England: Kluwer Law International. ISBN 904111775X.
  2. ^ Lau, Martin (2005). The role of Islam in the legal system of Pakistan ([Online-Ausg.]. ed.). The Hague [u.a.]: Kluwer Law International. ISBN 9004149279.
  3. ^ a b c Mehdi, Rubya (1994). The Islamization of the Law in Pakistan. [S.l.]: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-64437-2.
  4. ^ a b c d e Ghazali, Abdus Sattar (1996). "§ VIII: The Third Martial Law". Islamic Pakistan: Illusions and Reality. Islamabad: National Book Club. Retrieved 2013.
  5. ^ "Pakistan Judges Refuse Oath Demanded by Pakistan's Rulers". Waycross Journal-Herald. 31 January 2000. Retrieved 2011.

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