Military Inc.: in Pakistan

A new book (Military Inc – Inside Pakistan’s Military Economy. by Dr. Ayesha Siddiqua) has been published in Pakistan that digs into the vast and expansive empire that the Pakistani Military has set up in Pakistan over the past 6 decades.

The military of Pakistan long ago ceased to be an instrument of the civil government to defend national security and borders. As early as the first military martial law in Pakistan, it sought to take direct power in its own hands, and since then has only attempted to further extend its grip on not just the political power, but has also reached out to consolidate its control over major economic institutions and even judiciary.

I received an email several years ago that listed the number of major Pakistani institutions that were either owned by the military or were now under direct control of the military. The list was eye opening, and frightening. Majors, Colonels, Brigadiers and Admirals (current or retired) were scattered all over the map and held positions that they simply could not have held by sheer merit. The list of industries where military or ex-military were in charge included steel mills, sugar factories, cement factories, fertilizer factories, cereal factories, banks, logistics companies, construction companies, utilities, even universities and other higher education institutions.

Here are some notes from a decent review of her book:


The author is a well-known strategic affairs analyst. The central argument of her book is that `Milbus’ (combining the words military and business) perpetuates the military’s political predatory style. Its good health is dependent on the military’s influence over state and society. In other words, profit is directly proportionate to power. And, that this is both a cause and effect of a non-democratic political system.

Ms. Siddiqa defines `Milbus’ as military capital used for the personal benefit of the military fraternity. It refers to all activities that transfer resources from the state to an individual or a group within the military. These activities do not figure in the defence budget nor are they subject to the normal accountability procedures of the state. They are either directly controlled by the military or enjoy its implicit or explicit patronage.

The beneficiaries are primarily officers, both serving and retired, but the author says the `Milbus’ harvest is reaped by a wider circle of civilian businessmen and politicians who have decided in their own interests to play the game. And in this, says Ms. Siddiqa, lies the key to Pakistan’s story of repeated military rule. Civilian `clients’ are bound in predatory partnerships with the military, in turn strengthening it institutionally and increasing its appetite for power and profit.

In Pakistan, `Milbus’ is present in all three sectors: agriculture, manufacturing, and services. And it operates at three levels: as an institution, through its subsidiaries, and through individuals.

At the level of the individual, the military provides several benefits to its personnel. The boys always find jobs after retirement. The Musharraf regime has placed between 4,000-5,000 military officers through a system of preferential appointments.

But the biggest and the most visible perk is the rural and urban land given out to serving and retired officers. They also get subsidies and other benefits to develop the land. The estimated worth of the legally acquired assets of Pakistan’s generals, says Ms. Siddiqa, is in the range of $ 2.59 million-$ 6.9 million, based primarily on the value of rural and urban properties of these new land barons. The Pakistan military, as a single group, owns more land than any other institution or group, amounting to about 12 per cent of total state land. And unlike other state institutions, the military can convert this land for private usage.

Of the 11.58 million acres of land under its control, more than half is owned by individual members of the armed forces, mainly officers. Ms. Siddiqa argues that the “monopolisation” of land by the armed forces is aimed not just at increasing the financial worth of individuals or groups within the army, but also to increase its social and political worth. “The military owes it authority to change the usage of land to its phenomenal political clout. The land redistribution policy has an impact on the relationship between the powerful ruling elite in the country — of which the military is a part — and the masses.”

Here’s some recent news from this book’s inauguration ceremony held in pakistan:

ISLAMABAD, May 31: A book putting a critical spotlight on the military’s business nooks was launched from a virtual sanctuary on Thursday and some high-profile political reviewers seized upon it to denounce the army’s role in Pakistani politics.

The launching of the book, Military Inc: Inside Pakistan’s Military Economy, by Dr Ayesha Siddiqa, a military analyst, was due to have taken place at the capital’s elitist Islamabad Club.

But the author told a surprised audience that not only the club cancelled the booking of its auditorium, “all hotels in Islamabad were also told” by unspecified authorities not to allow the use of their halls for this, forcing the organisers to find a sanctuary at a third-floor room provided by a non-governmental organisation.

Mr Aitzaz Ahsan said the expose of Ayesha, who puts the net worth of the army’s commercial empire at Rs200 billion, had come at a “defining moment” in Pakistan’s history following President Pervez Musharraf’s controversial charge-sheeting and suspension of Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry.

He narrated what he called the military’s moves in the past to convert Pakistan into a national security state contrary to the Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s vision of a welfare state and to forge an alliance with mullahs in search of an ideological justification for this, but said he thought now “a watershed has come”.

Mr Iqbal rejected as a myth usual accusations holding politicians responsible for four military coups in Pakistan’s history and put the blame on what he called ambitions of army chiefs who toppled civilian governments from General Mohammad Ayub Khan, who later became field marshal, to General Musharraf.

It speaks about the role of the military power in transforming the Pakistani society, armed forces becoming an independent class entrenched in the corporate sector and their five giant welfare foundations, or conglomerates, running thousands of businesses ranging from petrol pumps to industrial plants.

Adil has also posted a note about it on ATP.

20 Responses to Military Inc.: in Pakistan

  1. Muneeb Ali says:

    these things are true when viewed as ‘facts’ … and we all know that facts could easily be taken out of context to present an image that is not entirely true .. i would comment on two things:

    a) In-charge of factories, companies, etc: Military officers are in essence “managers” commanding thousands of people under them during their service, getting the ‘work done’ by them, and managing resources and so on and so forth. Once, these people with such vast experiences and in most cases “honest” service to the nation retire – should we confine them to their homes or should we try to benefit from their skills as managers? Specially considering the “developing” nature of the country where human capital is scarce, these military people (in most cases) are the right choice for the job. In fact, it is common practice that most private sector business owners “hire” such retired military officers to manage their companies as it is a general view in the country that they are some of the best people available in the country for such jobs. My question would rather be given the level of corruption and under-education in the country – who else is going to manage the (rather long) list of institutions listed in the post? I rather think that people tend to focus more on the few cases where some person was not suitable for the job and was rather “forced in” using his “contacts”. Why generalize such cases to the an entire body of honorable professionals?

    b) Military owns a lot of land: Yes, it does and there is a good reason for it. They take “barren” land, put effort and resources into it, develop it to the highest possible standards offered in the country, keep it free from corruption (not selling the same plot to 10 different people as is done otherwise in the country) and then make the land available to open public by initially giving it to their retiring officers. An army officer dedicates his entire life to serve the army, the pay scale is not amazing and is compensated by facilities like free medicine etc. After 30 years of service and deducting funds from salary every month they get a plot or two to build their home or sell them to support education or other expenses (like marriage) of their kids. Is that unfair? Yes, land has become a primary factor in the wealth of military people – if that is a problem maybe the military can look into increasing salaries or giving out the settlement in “cash” instead of “land” – if that makes the author happy. For that the military would have to change its entire strategy about land i.e. stop developing housing colonies. If the military is not going to give out plots to their retiring officers then why should it bother itself with development projects and building housing societies which btw are the best in the country (e.g. defense) and eventually more civilians live there than military officers because they sell there plots to the “rich” and collect the monetary worth of their life long service. As for the fact that 12% of the land is under military rule i guess it includes land used for military training, vast areas of barren land used for military testing, disputed land areas taken under control of the military, land used by the military for building universities, and so on and so forth. For any person who has lived in a city in Pakistan they know that the military dominated areas called “Cantts” are the cleanest living areas with the best services available whereas the rest of the city is a big mess. The military gives away this land within cities on need basis (e.g. expansion of roads) and civilians are allowed to (and in fact prefer to) buy land in military administrated areas of the city. So these areas which remotely resemble a “civilized city” bother the author then maybe military should not administer these lands within cities and let it all be a big mess.

    In short i think that the book tends to give an image that military is not only taking over *power* in the country but also *wealth* – maybe the author should try visiting the homes of ordinary “high-ranked” military officers someday and she would get an idea of how wealthy they are.

  2. Bilal Zuberi says:

    Muneeb: You have interesting arguments but unfortunately, I believe, they fall short.

    a) if ex-military officers are better managers, then they should get the jobs. But why not make it an open competition where sheer talent wins? Why dictate they be military officers? Why appointments from central government? It is pure nepotism. Tell me how many university VCs who are military men were appointed via a talent search, be it managerial skill set or anything else?

    b) Military is subsidized by you and me and all Pakistanis. We give them a budget to spend on national security, not to buy land and distribute amongst its officers. Yes, there are poor army men, but are there no poor civil servants, and or those working in the private sector. Have you not seen chaprasis, chai-wala, chowkidars, and thela waalaas in Pakistan who would also like to get a plot or two at the end of their life of working hard to make money. Compared to their lives, believe me, army life is quite a luxury. Yes military gives their life when needed, but that is what their job asks for, and that is what they are paid for. So why the “hidden” benefits?

    The book is dead on, despite the sensations spread in the popular media. Military is not just taking over power, but also establishing an economic hegemony, which as Ayesha Siddiqua says, is neither good for Pakistan, nor for the army. Romans lost wars when their soldiers forgot their real duty and started enjoying being a part of the ruling elite. What we need is Pakistan is true civil service and transparency – where people work hard for their stated objectives, not for under the table grants, lands, or other benefits.

  3. Rajput says:

    Simple questions for pakistan army (PVT) LTD.
    Is there any county which is making progress in this world under army rule, how many from 150 countries?, in 21century army has ruled 30years out of 60 in pakistan, and wants more? Is it lust of robbing national wealth.

    How many countries spending 70 to 80 percnet budget on army and 2% on education minmum standard si 4% of gdp accroding t oUN, even nepol, srilanka, bangladesh are spending more than 4% on education.

    Is there any army which is running property business, banks, civilian institutions in world?, 600 retired army personnel is running different dept in pakistan, have u ever seen such kind of happening in any country in history all over the world?.

    Have u ever seen that a chief of army staff is judging the credibility of Chief justice of Supreme court of the country?,
    Due to army rule a chief justice is asking justice, has that happened in any where in the world.

    How many wars has our army won yet? While we r giving her 70 to 80% budget of the country for last 60years. There should be atleast some balance on reward and performance. Kitna looto ge garib awam ko.
    In islami history banglades defeat was the biggest one, even bigger than spain and turkey.
    They have arm n ammunation but still they accepted defeat, it was first time in islami history that u got ammunatain and accept defeated.


  4. hasaan says:

    Dear Readers
    I have not read “Military Inc” and do not intend to read it . I am though surprised to see Army’s reaction to publication of this book ( quite foolish) and even surprised at the hype created by the civilian sector . Surprised because banning information only magnifies the interest ( Banning “Freedom at Midnite” was the reason of its success). Also what gives the right to existing corrupt civilian to create a hype when they come to know that their military rulers are also “to some extent ‘ as corrupt as them. After all, even the military have the same social background as rest of the civilians i.e their background is from the same society where a rat race for accumulation of wealth is only the prime objective .
    Look , I mean that there ought to be some sort of values in life . In Pakistan, unfortunately, life is being revolved around becoming westernised, powerful, 3.0 m Jeep driving, drinking, dating and speaking urdu in an English accent sort of a “Joker”.
    As a food for thought ( without approving of the military being in power) ,please try to think about following:
    1-Why is it that DHA is so much sought after rather than a place like Sattelite town or Walton town ( answer : it is planned, controlled and upkept to provide a secure and clean place to live. Only Bahria town is close to DHA . you can also remember the civilian corporate scandal of New Islamabad City scam recently?)
    2- Why is Cantonment areas like Kharian, Rwp,Lhr,Gujrawala resemble Royal Palm, Islamabad Club or the Gymkhana? ( Answer : resouces, systems,controls & security. Why can’t be “Teli Mohallah or Lakshmi Chowk be like that ?)
    3- Have you ever stayed at an elevation of + 22000 feet for an extended period. ( Answer is simply NO.)
    4- Which car do you drive ? ( Answer ;Still a majority of “Faugis” drive a 10 year old vehicle.)
    5- How many times do you eat out in PC or Pizza hut etc , ( Answer : Imagine a Capt of the Army getting Rs 15000 PM and having to cough out Rs 8000 PM in mess bills in a god for saken place in the middle of nowhere. How much money is he left with at the end of the month to spend on excursions to PC Bhurban ?
    6- Which group ( read : bigger organisation) in Pakaistan has directed its resouces & revenues collectively for the benifit of its members ? ( Answer : Almost none . Even the efforts by by companies like PCSIR, Wapda ,AG Office ,PR etc have fallen in the hands of corrupt resulting in housing schemes resembling “horse stables”)

    Today we are blaming the Army of making fortunes ! Have we ever analysed the damage that an SHO ( grade 16 ) can incurr on you and me ,an ordinary citizen, when compared with an Army Leutinenet ( Grade 17) . Have we ever noticed that “Army” ventures in real estate is profitable due to following of rules ,regulations,channeling of resources & energy ?
    What Army set -up of today has given to Pakistan is ( though I totally disagree with army being in power) :
    1- Economic Stability
    2- Sustanance
    3- Margnial reduction in corruption
    4- policies( though some very wrong esp Kashmir,Afghanistan,Terrorism, Dams etc)

    THINK ,MY FRIENDs ! though the “army’ is not a solution to the prevailing woes of Pakistan but then we need people like “Imran Khan” , ” Aitizaz Ahsan” , Late ZAB, Late Justice Kiyani, Maraina Baabar, Shireen Mizari, Ex Ambassador to USA ( forgetting the lady’s name) etc . UNLESS WE HAVE LEADERS like Chairman Mao, we will continue to have such debate without any outcome and meanwhile corruption will keep on taking its toll on the poor. Need of the hour is to have a growing “middle class” and do whatever steps that are required .
    I will take the liberty on what we need right now as a nation :
    6- VISION
    7- ENERGY ( Nuclear & Hydro)
    8- IDENTITY ( WHat sort of people are we ??)

    My answer to “MIL INC”in a gist is that We ,Pakistanis, should aim at getting even one of the above in next 5 years to get out of a vicious circle of blaming institutions for misdeeds that are imbedded & hidden in each one of this society


  5. Bilal Zuberi says:

    Hasan, you raise some very good points. Thank you.
    Here are my comments on what you have said:

    1-Why is it that DHA is so much sought after rather than a place like Sattelite town or Walton town ( answer : it is planned, controlled and upkept to provide a secure and clean place to live. Only Bahria town is close to DHA . you can also remember the civilian corporate scandal of New Islamabad City scam recently?)

    Because the army is flush with money and we, ordinary Pakistanis are subsidizing it. Give me the budget that army has for maintaining my mohalla and I will show you how it can be kept better than the DHA societies. Army has access to free labor. Shoudl we be spending national money on jamadaars and maalis for the military or be using it to bring education to areas such as Balochistan?

    2- Why is Cantonment areas like Kharian, Rwp,Lhr,Gujrawala resemble Royal Palm, Islamabad Club or the Gymkhana? ( Answer : resouces, systems,controls & security. Why can’t be “Teli Mohallah or Lakshmi Chowk be like that ?)

    see above.

    3- Have you ever stayed at an elevation of + 22000 feet for an extended period. ( Answer is simply NO.)

    No I haven’t. But I do not intend to undermine the contribution of the military to our country. They are brave soldiers who are not afraid of giving their life for our freedom. I support them. But I do not support the institutional money grab that has become a part and parcel of the military infrastructure.

    4- Which car do you drive ? ( Answer ;Still a majority of “Faugis” drive a 10 year old vehicle.)

    I am sure you know that most Pakistanis do not drive a car, even if they have worked for 50 years on the fields, earning every niwaala of food that goes in their mouth with their sweat and blood. So while Jawans drive 10 year old cars, most pakistanis walk or take crowded buses, and carry their kids on their shoulders when they are sick. They also do not have healthcare, unlik emilitary hospitals, and many die on the steps of hospitals from illnesses that are easily cured.

    5- How many times do you eat out in PC or Pizza hut etc , ( Answer : Imagine a Capt of the Army getting Rs 15000 PM and having to cough out Rs 8000 PM in mess bills in a god for saken place in the middle of nowhere. How much money is he left with at the end of the month to spend on excursions to PC Bhurban ?

    You could not possibly be comparing the life of an army jawan or Captain to that of an industrialist? Why not compare it to the other 98% of the country that does not even have clothes that would allow them to walk into a PC with any level of respect?

    6- Which group ( read : bigger organisation) in Pakaistan has directed its resouces & revenues collectively for the benifit of its members ? ( Answer : Almost none . Even the efforts by by companies like PCSIR, Wapda ,AG Office ,PR etc have fallen in the hands of corrupt resulting in housing schemes resembling “horse stables”)

    There is lots of corruption in Pakistani institutions and yes, it is a shame and a tragedy. Let’s not allow the military to become like them. You do remember the scandals of Navy admirals from a few years ago, right? It is the duty of us civilians to keep the military honest and away from the same plagues that have infected many other parts of our society.

  6. Bilal Zuberi says:

    From a review in The Guardian, UK:

    The Pakistani military’s private business empire could be worth as much as £10bn, according to a ground-breaking study. Retired and serving officers run secretive industrial conglomerates, manufacture everything from cement to cornflakes, and own 12m acres [4.8m hectares] of public land, says Dr Ayesha Siddiqa, author of Military Inc: Inside Pakistan’s Military Economy.

    The book tackles a previously taboo subject – the range and depth of the military’s business interests – considered a major factor in the ambitions of the generals who have ruled Pakistan for more than half of its 60-year history. “It feeds directly into the military’s political power; it’s an expression of their personal and organisation strength,” said Ms Siddiqa, a former director of research at the Pakistan navy.

    Five giant conglomerates, known as “welfare foundations”, run thousands of businesses, ranging from street corner petrol pumps to sprawling industrial plants. The main street of any Pakistani town bears testament to their economic power, with military-owned bakeries, banks, insurance companies and universities, usually fronted by civilian employees. Ms Siddiqa estimates that the military controls one-third of all heavy manufacturing and up to 7% of private assets.

    Profits are supposed to be pumped back into schools, hospitals and other welfare facilities – the military claims it has 9 million beneficiaries – but there is little transparency. “There is little evidence that pensioners are benefiting from these welfare facilities,” she said.

    Of the 96 businesses run by the four largest foundations, only nine file public accounts. The generals spurn demands by parliament to account for public monies they spend.

    The military’s penetration into society has accelerated under President Pervez Musharraf, who has also parachuted 1,200 officers into key positions in public organisations such as universities and training colleges. The military boasts that it can run such organisations better than incompetent and corrupt civilians.

    In a 2004 speech to open a new industry owned by the Fauji (“Soldier”) Foundation, General Musharraf boasted of “exceptional” military-owned banks, cement and fertiliser plants. “Why is anyone jealous if the retired military officers or the civilians with them are doing a good job contributing to the economy?” he said.

    But Ms Siddiqa says the military businesses thrive, thanks to invisible state subsidies in the form of free land, the use of military assets, and loans to bail them out when they run into trouble. “There are gross inefficiencies and the military is mired in crony capitalism. The primary purpose of a trained military is war fighting. They are not designed for the corporate sector.”

    Her £10bn estimate of military wealth is a “rough figure”, she says, split between £6bn in land and private military assets.

    “Military Inc.” comes at a sensitive time for Gen Musharraf, who is struggling to rebuild his popularity after the botched dismissal of the chief justice, Muhammad Iftikhar Chaudhry, in March. The move sparked nationwide demonstrations that have snowballed into a powerful protest movement. The furore has offered an insight into the raw power wielded by the generals. This week, Justice Chaudhry told the supreme court how military intelligence chiefs spent hours trying to pressure him to quit on March 9, before placing him under effective house arrest.

    Ms Siddiqa fears her book, which names names and pours cold water on boastful claims, may step on some powerful toes. “Over the past three years a lot of my friends have advised me not to publish this book. They think I have suicidal tendencies.”

    But Talat Hussain, a retired general and political analyst, said Ms Siddiqa was a “courageous” researcher. “This area has always been considered a sacred cow in our society,” he said.

  7. Muneeb Ali says:

    Interesting arguments ..

    In theory there is no difference between theory and practice, in practice there is

    “Theoretically” we should/could make more progress without the army … the entire history of pakistan shows that any development project that went “right” was undertaken by the army, the rest of the country is a jungle and there are good reasons for that. The level of education in the country being the primary one in my view. I am not saying that army officers are better educated but they are way more diciplined, get raised in an environment where ethics and values are strongly enforced upon them, and are definitely more well read than the average civilian and you can tell that just by talking to them.

    I am not a supporter of high army budgets neither am I in favour of the army rule – yes the army should just do its own job. I can list countless “development” projects started by civilian government that achieved zilch. Maybe there should be a comparison of corruption in government offices vs corruption in army offices or a comparison of how efficient government offices have been vs how efficient army offices have been. In my day-to-day interaction with both these institutes I have seen an order of magnitude difference between them. An average military police person is honest, decent, would never ever take money from you whereas an average pakistani policeman would lack all forms of decency, would be corrupt, would put you into needless trouble and so on. Same is the case with any department, getting any work done by a government department involves long unnecessay procedures with corruption at every level. Their housing projects don’t fail because they didnt have enough funds but because they eat all the funds. Just try dealing with the management at lets say DHA run by some retired army colonel and some civilian department responsible for a civilian housing society and you would notice the order of magnitude difference that I am talking about.

    I am not saying that the civilians cannot do anything right – I am sure they can; some examples could be LUMS as an educational institute or the Motorway as a development project. What i am saying is historically its *rare* for things to go right if they are in the hands of civilians and on the flip side it is rare for things to go wrong if they are in the hands of the army. The policy in pakistan has been that when all else fails call the army – an example could be the Sind situation where the local police could not contain the “dakoos”. Whenever there is trouble in the country and the civilian institutions so conveniently fail to function – call the army e.g. floods, earth quakes.

    Maybe you should try looking into how much corruption there was in a civilian institution e.g. WAPDA before it came under the control of the army. Civilians love to hate the army because of the simple reason that they are not part of it. Yes, lets not compare an army captain with the Pakistan ellite but maybe we can compare the army “jawaan” with average pakistanis ? Have you seen their 1-bed homes? Do you know that they get 2000 rs as salary and live happily in it? Why don’t they take bribes? Why are they organized and so polite to talk to? All of that comes from the general culture and values, they undertand *respect* for authority and giving importance to leading an organized honest life that is of some value to others. These are the same kind of effects that education has on a person, you don’t just get your education in the school.

    Remove all influence of the army from this country and then witness the chaos. All these people know how to do is complain, burn tyres, throw stones at video shops, break windows of public transportation and so on. When was the last time you saw army ‘jawaans’ protesting or complaining about anything? If its not the army, the people of Pakistan would find some other thing to complain about and then come people like the author of this book who want to fuel the fire and have their three seconds of fame. The army is neither the solution nor the problem, its an institution that functions which is rare for a Pakistani institution. Don’t hate the army or fuel hatred for it – I don’t know if musharraf is a reasonable man but 95% or more of the army is reasonable, rational, honest, organized and works towards the benefit of this country in more ways than they know.

  8. Muneeb Ali says:

    Google is growing and there is no way to stop it because the organization is internally better at doing whatever they do – it is venturing into businesses that are not what a search engine is ‘supposed to do’. Similarly military-related people in Pakistan ventured into other things over time because as an institute it is internally better (in strict relative sense) at doing the job. Is that a crime?

  9. Ahmad A Karim says:

    Muneeb, I think you would benefit from reading something of political philosophy and the institutions that build a state. Basic concepts like Separation of powers, checks and balances etc.

    As an example:
    The function of the military is to protect the state from the enemies of the state. The function of the police is to maintain law and order and protect the citizens. When the army becomes the police, (separation of powers ceases to exist), the people tend to become the enemy of the state.

    And so on. (Connect with Mush and his two conflicting offices. For instance, it is in the benefit of the mlty to have a larger defense budget and in the interest of the nation-state (multi or otherwise) to have a larger education and development budget. Which way do you think Mush will vote?

    The military also carries with it attitudes and legacies that are NOT suitable for institution building, democracy etc.

    All of which are reasons the British Empire used to have ‘Cantonment Areas’ where the mlty was kept separate from the citizens and to make sure they stayed INSTRUMENTS of the political process and not its masters.

    The function of the army is to be a chowkidar. Not to come into the house and take over it.

  10. Ahmad A Karim says:

    And the argument that the political process should not be given a chance because historically, the political process has failed, then please remember that ‘historically’, 60 years is NOTHING in the life of a country (half of which were under military rule anyway!)

    If you are going to cite history, then remember history moves at a snail’s pace.

  11. Muneeb Ali says:

    This is going in circles and I am going to STOP here. I think i said that I agree with this ‘theory’ – its sound and its right but in theory there is no difference between theory and practice but in practice there is. Theoretically the political process should ‘eventually’ work out and i am disappointed enough in the people involved with politics in the country that i am sure that this nice theoretical thing is not going to happen within my lifetime. Maybe the next generation could be different and if the army can help us survive till then, personally i don’t mind that – its better then going back to the baboon politicians.

  12. hasaan says:

    Dear Above Commentors
    Heartening to know that ideas,views,vision is embedded in people of Pakistan. Wholistically, a farmer is even full of good ideas& views despite having a relatively tunnel vision and without knowing the impact of “percapita Income “”GDP Growth” etc.
    This country is on the face of this planet ( by Grace of God) by viture of countless “A Few Good Men”.May somebody at helm of affairs realise that bulk of the prob. arises from clueless leadership and things need to change stepwise to enlightened leadship .

  13. Wasiq says:

    This discussion is proceeding, as is often the case with arguments involving the Pakistan army and power politics, without defining the fundamental issue.

    The issue is not that army offciers do not make a contribution and should not be rewarded for their contribution to the country. The issue is how power and influence should be distributed within the country.

    Every country has an army and all armies make sacrifices and their officers have mangerial qualities as argued by some above. But there is a reason why armies in other countries do not run the government, housing schemes or businesses.

    The US has the world’s most powerful army. The soldiers are paid their salary and, after retirement, get a generous pension. No Army Foundations in business and certainly no Defense Housing Societies.

    A family hires a driver to drive its car, a cook to prepare its meals and a guard to provide it security. The guard does not cook on grounds that because he stays up late at night with family members outside and keeps the car clean he should also have the right to control what is cooked in the kitchen. If the cook does not cook well, another cook is hired. The driver is not made the cook nor does the guard have the right to take over the kitchen because of the cook’s incompetence or corruption.

    The driver must be efficient in his sphere and duly compensated for it. The guard and cook should have similar acknowledgement of reward and work in their spheres.

    In simple, the military in Pakistan deserves full respect and reward for the work militaries are created –protection of borders and acting in aid of civil power in times of emergency. Demanding that the army do its job and its job alone is not disrespecting the army. It is asking that the balance of things in Pakistan be restored and the current unnatural state of military dominance be brought to an end.

  14. Bilal Zuberi says:

    Here’s a scanned version of the book. Please buy a copy to protect the intellectual property rights of the author who put in a lot of work into it:

  15. Khalid Rehman says:

    I will blame (late) ZA Bhutto for all what is happening now in Pakistan by the hands of Military Inc for 2 reasons:

    1) Bhutto should not have built the Nuclear power so Army would have stayed professional rather than relying on nuclear deterrence.

    2) Bhutto should have let Mukti Bhani hang those Army Generals who committed crime against humanity. Should have let international court of Justice try their cases. Should not have brought the POWs back. Should not have negotiated to get the occupied areas back in Pakistan. Military should have learned lesson and their share of disgraceful defeat for a couple of years.

    In this scenario No General would have ever dared to become a dictator and Pakistan would have been blessed with professional soldiers instead of property agents in uniform. This would have also caused maintaining friendship with neighbors and more resources utilized on education & health rather than maintaining a million of defeated army.

  16. Nasruminallah says:

    I have read the book , it is a poignant analysis, people like Dr. Ishrat Hussain, our learned ex- governor SBP have opposing views as well but they appear to be less convincing.

    I think Dr Aysha Siddiqa has argued around the following points, if you find this interesting then you may want to read the book.

    1. Military in Pakistan is a State itself, It has financial autonomy and has the political and coercive Organizational strength to dominate the civilian Institutions. Civil Military relations are of the nature of Client- patron which weaken any organized agitation against the army. Constitutional amendments’ like 58(2)(b) and NSC have institutionalized armies role which is now a class itself, comprising of business men and landlords, and at par with the ruling/ feudal/ landed elite whom it is capable of co-opting through coercion and bribery. All major civil institutions have both serving and military officers at all levels (over 1200). Political corruption has its roots in army’s repeated attempts to make or break the civil governments’ esp. in the 1990’s.

    Cooption with the Military was seen as the best way to survival and patronage after the assassination of an elected Prime Minister.

    2. Civilian Governments have been too weak or inept to go against army’s interest because of dysfunctional polity that has come to develop over the decades mainly because of the role of the army in politics and economy. An image has been created that makes civilians seen as corrupt, incompetent, and insincere and driven by greed in comparison to the disciplined and clean army.

    While the army creates its own rules or bends them whenever it likes and stays away from the preview of civil monitoring and control which in itself is a cause of lack of transparency and corruption in army managed enterprises.

    3. Military business set ups, like AWT & FF are publicized as private sector Institutions while they receive frequent and heavy bail outs from the Governments, some things which no other private sector company can be entitled to. Army Officers believe, “any thing they can do we can do better”, as a matter of fact they think they are more intelligent, better qualified, intellectually and morally superior and effective than bureaucrats and even private sector managers. Politicians as a class need training in governance and management.

    Financial efficiency of the military business enterprises is a misnomer since they have military management; it is not known since most of the information is not in the public domain. This is despite access to strategic information and preferential concessions from the governments not to mention use of state resources or military budget.

    4. The businesses are run in the name of welfare while most of the benefits accrue to the senior brass, with no proportional comparison, there is no housing scheme for the soldiers for example.

    5. Land distribution to the senior officers has its roots in the colonial tradition of buying allegiance in exchange for land, it has continued unabated. Acquisition of land is justified in the name of “public purpose’ and is developed using state resources. Operational land in cantonments has been converted into housing schemes against military manual of instructions. Excesses and injustice has been committed in land appropriation from private owners. The trend has exacerbated in the current regime.

    6. Military’s political intervention and “up there on the pedestal” image has given the officer cadre a sense of being beyond questioning. Allegiance is ensured since most of the economic benefits are waiting at the top and few get there, so juniors stay in line or go out of the way to appease seniors.

    7. Corporate Sector and others alike the Media are sadly also guilty of cohabiting with the army to gain advantages and patronage because of long stints of their rule and influence even during civil set ups- survival of the fittest.

    8. As in the case of Turkey and Indonesia there is a definite connection between the dominance of military and the rise of religious extremism in Pakistan, there is a symbiotic relationship between the two so far but the military does not realize the strength of religious ideology as an alterative to itself.

    9. The cause and effect is not that simple but politico-economic prowess of the army encourages crony capitalism and creates market distortions. The growing economic empire entails greater political control and under the circumstances it can be expected that the military will find it impossible to withdraw to the barracks.

  17. Nasruminallah says:

    well please some one come up with a valid opposing point to view to our dear Dr Aysha Siddiqa. I was expecting an intelligent reply.

    In the mean time the governemnt has done well to show us the real faces of the Maulanas- aunty Aziz and cocky rashid,

  18. Nasruminallah says:

    Allah- why have thou forsaken us,

    .. give us the sanity to do the right thing and do it right.

  19. NM says:

    Pakistan will come out stronger, we have better resources than many countries that have done better than us, I hope we can some how come out of the confusion and set a stratgic direction for the nation on where we want to be in the next 20 years.

    universal primary education and excellence in vocational education may be a good start.

  20. saad says:

    Ok one thing this book does not cover, is that the Pakistan army started and lost all the wars that it ever fought, i.e. if u read anything that is not published in Pakistan. And also they were responsible for one of the biggest genocides ever in 1971. Couple that with their business enterprises, then thats the biggest controversy in the history of our nation. An institution that choses to fight wars for its own reasons and rubs it as a victory in the face of the population and then sucks its blood in supposed payment.

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