During and After Martial Law

by Adeel Shah

Martial law does not exist in a vacuum; it is brought on through a combination of economic desperation, lack of law and order, and an incompetent government that is unable to provide a modicum of stability to the people.  When these combined factors create an environment of continued despondency, the military is either compelled to take action to protect the country’s people, or it is asked to do so.  The decision may be outside constitutional bounds, but that is most often where much-needed change comes from.

When done with the country’s citizens in mind, the military leadership comes in to arrest the deterioration of the country, bring order, and improve the economic conditions.  Once these steps are well on their way to a more stable future, that same military leadership hands the country back to its people by way of a democratic electoral system.

During the military rule, intellectuals and journalists begin covering the massive corruption and investigating continued nepotism and mismanagement in the political realm.  Courts and Parliament start providing a legal cover for the act of military rule.

Immediately after the military hands over power to the elected government, intellectuals and journalists praise the return of democracy, while politicians come forth under the guise of being “saviors” of the citizen-elected process.  The entirety of the military leadership is branded as an extra-constitutional affair, without giving credit to the massive improvement in the country’s circumstances.

Without coming out and saying it in a clear fashion, critics of the military leadership start recounting the country’s condition under that time as one of stability and progress.  They choose not to give credit where credit is due, to prevent having to take back the negative words they had put out to press at an earlier time.

Citizens learn half-truths from these intellectuals, and other half truths from politicians, walking away often with a full lie.  They are not given the information they need to properly have a democratic election.

Enter the court system, which by the virtue of its existence shall be expected to protect the truth and demand evidence before making a determination.  Even that system fails the country and its people.  Instead of discovering the truth, it is a system content with a world of grays and half truths that protect its legacy.

Though it may be idealistic, it is necessary for the country to have a system of sophisticated supreme court judges that understand the law outside of sheer politics.  A set of judges that can decipher truth from untruth, and systematically examine the events that led to the institution of martial law.

The record has to be set straight; and it can only be done from the inside out.

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