Pakistan army


Senior Member
Oct 5, 2009

It is commonly averred that while most of the nation-states have an army, the army in Pakistan has a state to itself. The Pakistan Army particularly is not only a national instrument for overcoming external threats, but also an extra-constitutional tool of governance. Even during the interludes of civilian governance, the army's writ on Pakistan's foreign policy and strategy has been overwhelming. Even if a civilian government were to return to power in Pakistan, it is likely that the Pakistan Army will continue to control some of the most critical leverages of national power. As such Pakistan is one country where the army makes huge overlaps with politics and society.

It was an army man Zia-ul-Haq, who altered the socio-political discourse in the country and fuelled the role of religion in public life that was hitherto a personal affair. Interestingly, the Pakistan Army used the expression Jehad as early as in 1965-War with India. The socio-political climate within the country was far more secular when another military ruler President Ayub Khan was at the helm of affairs.

The Islamic imprint of the Zia period still impacts on its socio-political stability. The Pakistan Army appears to have convinced itself that the politicians are incapable of preserving the relatively newly created state of Pakistan and that democracy as such may be retrograde.

The Pakistan Army as also the ISI had to disown its creation – the Taliban even at the cost of alienating a section of the forces and the fundamentalist Islamic constituency. The army's political and economic compulsions have created acute vulnerabilities. This was evidenced by Musharraf's statement that Pakistan was in danger of losing its strategic assets.

The presence of the US troops in Pakistan and Afghanistan is bound to impact on the symbiosis of relationship between Islamic fundamentalist groups and the Army. With major strategic naval bases like Gawadar being constructed, the importance of Pakistan Navy is likely to increase. Further, two of Pakistan's neighbours i.e. China and India are making rapid economic progress vis-à-vis Pakistan. This imbalance may impact on the society and polity in Pakistan of which the army is very much a part.

The visit of President Bush to India in strategic terms has been epoch making. It has very powerful portends of re-writing the entire strategic equations and balance in Asia. That the nuclear concessions given to India by the US have not been extended to Pakistan, much to its chagrin, places India at the moment on a strategically ascendant and dominating plane. By one stroke, the nuclear deal has pulled India out of the Indo-Pak hyphenated equation. Pakistan and its military – which have been the strategic arbitrators of Pakistan's foreign policy, are bound to maneuver in a manner so as to deny India's strategic ascendancy. It may result in a more vigorous Pak-China strategic and military engagement in order to counterpoise India. This will also necessarily impact on the Pakistan Army, which had been so far sustained by US indulgence.

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