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Why Army is Popular in Pakistan?

Ideological origin of Pakistan army can be traced back to Muslims revolt of 1857, or as called ‘The Indian Mutiny’ in British histories. It was aimed to reinstate the Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar at Delhi. This was the India’s first war of independence mainly fought by Muslims. Many Hindu troops also took part in the “mutiny” partly as a result of crude treatment by their British officers.

By Atta Rasool Malik

During the independence of subcontinent in 1947, the formations, units and assets of the British Indian Armed forces were to be proportionately divided between Bharat (India) and Pakistan. Indians did not handover any worthwhile army equipment to Pakistan as initially agreed. However, nearly all Muslims soldiers from British Indian Army, joined the newly formed Pakistan Army. Hence, Muslim identity was embedded in Pakistan army right from the outset.

Though the famous slogan in struggle for Pakistan was ‘Pakistan ka Matlab kya, La Illaha Illallah. What Pakistan mean? ..There is no God but Allah; was a battle cry and political slogan coined by Urdu poet Asghar Sodai. In actuality, Pakistan was the product of prolonged narrow-mindedness of Indian Congress. Had the ultra-nationalist Hindu leaders accepted the Muslim league demands of Muslim fair representation in legislative assemblies through separate electorate; India would not have partitioned.

When Pakistan became reality Hindu leaders did not reconcile and wanted to undo Pakistan militarily. Pakistan army stood in their way, number of times battered but not defeated. Consequently, Pakistan army has developed into first-class fighting machine. Over the years, Indian leaders have substantially damaged Pakistan but in a process also shattered Indian self-assurance and confidence.

Indian Aggresion

India not only occupied Muslim majority princely states of Junagargrh, Hyderabad, Manvadar and Kashmir but also dismembered Pakistan in the recent past.  Non-existence of central political party in united Pakistan had also facilitated breakup of Pakistan. Consequently, East Pakistan became Bangladesh in 1971. Even today, India is busy again exploiting fault lines of Pakistan and it continues to threaten Pakistan. It has started sponsoring separatist groups in Baluchistan and unfortunately, no single political party is still popular in all provinces of Pakistan.  Therefore, most Pakistanis being conscious of integrity of the state, look upon Pakistan army for traditional and non-traditional roles in the country.

Unfortunately, civilian bureaucracy is also on its decline. It cannot stand to malpractices of powerful elite rather it is facilitating corrupt politicians. Number of times, common people and even higher judiciary call upon Pakistan army to undertake tasks not exclusively in its domain. When Pakistan military undertakes wide-ranging tasks in Pakistan in absence of dynamic democratic institutions, sometimes it occupies space more than its fair share.

Recently few politicians, misled by enemy propaganda have severely criticized Pakistan army forgetting the unique circumstances and impending threats to integrity of Pakistan. It is customary all over the world that Judiciary, armed forces, intelligence agencies, and even other important institutions provide vital inputs to governments and contribute in important decision making. FBI and MOSSAD play an important role in the operation of State functionaries in USA and Israel. Similarly, the India’s security agency, RAW, has a significant task in the Indian system of government.

 One never hears the Israeli or Indian administration castigate Mossad or RAW.  However, propaganda against army and ISI has reached to an ungraceful limits even by important political figures. In Pakistan, there was a time, when the Pakistani army even toppled the ruling government. However, the current setup in the army has resisted all temptations to assume power and actually the change should have been appreciated.

Pakistan’s Weak Democracy

Pakistan’s democratic governments have been led by poorly institutionalized political parties full of opportunistic and dynastic patronized politicians. When the parliament and civil bureaucracy is found lacking, the military is blamed that it has prevented them from developing into more effective mechanisms through which to achieve substantive democratization. Liberals even accuse Quaid Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Liaquat Ali Khan that they had over-exaggerated the Indian factor to legitimize attempts at centralizing state power. However, Indian aggression in 1971, sponsoring insurgent groups in Balochistan and ill-treatment of Muslim masses in Kashmir and other areas of Bharat prove that we need to remain vigilant and keep our strength ready.

Pakistan army is highly popular in vast segment of Pakistani society because it draws bulk of its officers and men from middle class. It has effectively restored law and order situation in Karachi Malakand and in tribal areas. It has deterred terrorists which were exploiting the religion of Islam. Pakistan army though enlightened in its outlook, still enjoys popular support in the masses which are traditional with religious inclinations. There was no surprise when Pakistan Army smoothly evicted the sit-in at Faizabad when civilian government had failed to relieve the suffering of people of Islamabad for seventeen long days. Cognizant of its growing criticism, Pakistan army is further focusing its transparent and uniform recruitment from all provinces and actively contributing in sports, health and education at national level. Pakistan youth appreciates Pakistan army.

Pakistan Army and Modern Warfare

Technology is changing the world. Drones, robotics, artificial intelligence, satellite imagery and cybersecurity threats are substantially changing the warfare. Professional armies must quickly adapt to emerging technologies which present opportunities and threats. Therefore, only a first-class economy can ensure maintenance of first-class army.

Instead of blame game and cruel criticism. Pakistan Politicians need to develop their credibility as honest and true representative of people. When democracy takes roots within Political parties’ and governance improves, the space for Pakistan military in public affairs will be automatically decreased. It is time for Pakistani politicians to work for political stability and economists & bureaucrats to fix their domains. Taxation needs to improve.

Today, Pakistan army is popular at home, professionally trained and has strong resolve to defend integrity of Pakistan. 90% of men and officers of Pakistan army are war veterans. Even the young soldiers both officers and other ranks are accustomed to sound of bullets and smell of explosive.

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