Pakistan Armed Forces

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The Pakistan Armed Forces are the military forces of Pakistan. They are the sixth largest in the world in terms of active military personnel.


  • Pakistan has a history of military support for different factions within Afghanistan, extending at least as far back as the early 1970s. During the 1980s, Pakistan, which was host to more than two million Afghan refugees, was the most significant front-line state serving as a secure base for the mujahidin fighting against the Soviet intervention. Pakistan also served, in the 1980s, as a U.S. stalking horse: the U.S., through the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), granted Pakistan wide discretion in channeling some U.S.$2-3 billion worth of covert assistance to the mujahidin, training over 80,000 of them. Even after the withdrawal of Soviet troops in 1989, serving and former Pakistani military officers continued to provide training and advisory services in training camps within Afghanistan and eventually to Taliban forces in combat.
  • The Pakistani government does not seem willing to shift its spending priorities despite the burgeoning COVID-19 challenges...Despite all this, Islamabad allocated $7.85bn for defence and merely $151m for health in the budget for the financial year 2020-2021. This represents a 12 percent rise in Pakistan's defence spending compared with the last financial year. The single-line figure presented in the budget does not give a full picture of the amount actually being spent on defence either.
  • But - and alas, there is a but- I don't believe it is in Pakistan's best interest to be the country whose armed forces consume the largest percentage of national income of any military in the world. I don't believe it is in Pakistan's interest to adopt a policy of seeking 'strategic depth' by destabilizing it's neighbors. I don't believe it is in Pakistan's best interest to try to wrest Kashmir from India by fair means or foul. I don't believe it is in Pakistan's best interest to be the cradle and crucible of militant Islamist terrorism. I don't believe it's in Pakistan's best interest to be a country where no elected civilian government has ever served a full term. And I do believe that any Pakistani liberal worth the name (take a bow, Marvi Sirmed) should have no difficulty in agreeing with any of these propositions.
  • Today the absurd spectacle of the high-stepping soldiers from India and Pakistan who nightly strut their robotic lowering and folding of flags, with their high kicks, stamps and twirls, at a border crossing on the Old Trunk Road between their two countries, draws increasingly large cheering crowds from each side and is a YouTube favourite. It is surely a bit of harmless fun. Or is it? Both countries have nuclear weapons and a long history of conflict and mutual suspicion. And militarism, whether that means elevating the military to a position as the noblest and best of their societies or the leaching of military values, such as discipline and obedience into the civilian world, can lead to trouble for democratic societies.
  • In Pakistan, in particular, the military are seen as the bulwark and protector of the nation and are largely free from civilian control and scrutiny. The infamous Inter- Services Intelligence Directorate has backed and funded terrorist groups in India, the disputed territory of Kashmir, Afghanistan and Central Asia, not for the good of those countries or of Pakistan itself. It is widely accepted that some of Pakistan’s generals have sold nuclear technology to North Korea. Civilian leaders who have tried to rein in the military have rapidly found themselves out of office and, if they are lucky, in exile. In both India and Pakistan civilian politics have taken on a military tinge, with some political parties sponsoring paramilitary organisations whose members wear uniforms, march in formation with flags and carry sticks to menace their opponents.
  • “We had one other constraint: Whatever option we chose could not involve the Pakistanis. Although Pakistan’s government cooperated with us on a host of counterterrorism operations and provided a vital supply path for our forces in Afghanistan, it was an open secret that certain elements inside the country’s military, and especially its intelligence services, maintained links to the Taliban and perhaps even al-Qaeda, sometimes using them as strategic assets to ensure that the Afghan government remained weak and unable to align itself with Pakistan’s number one rival, India.”
  • “The fact that the Abbottabad compound was just a few miles from the Pakistan military’s equivalent of West Point only heightened the possibility that anything we told the Pakistanis could end up tipping off our target.”
    • Barack Obama, A promised land, 2020
  • Pakistan air force has issued official warning to the Afghan Army and Air Force that any move to dislodge the Taliban from Spin Boldak area will be faced and repelled by the Pakistan Air Force. Pak air force is now providing close air support to Taliban in certain areas
  • So they couldn’t do anything about India, but what they could do was transform Pakistan into a US base in October 1958, by organizing a coup d’état and making the Pakistani military heavily dependant on them. Links between the Pakistani military and the Pentagon date back to the 1950s, to the Cold War period, when the ruling elites used the military to prevent a general election from taking place that they were fearful might produce a government that would take Pakistan out of all the US security pacts. The United States knew they couldn’t do much about India, so they concentrated on Pakistan... the Pakistani military henceforth becomes a very valued asset of the United States, with direct links to the Pentagon. Large numbers of Pakistani officers are sent for training to Fort Bragg and other American military academies. And links are established between the Pakistani military in the United States to create a special commando unit inside the Pakistani army for emergency actions. And the Indians know all this.
    • Tariq Ali - On history Tariq Ali and Oliver Stone in conversation-Haymarket Books (2011)
  • It is the duty of the Pakistan armed forces to insure the integrity, solidarity, and security of Pakistan, and in this they have never failed.
    • Yahya Khan, quoted in Bass, G. J. (2014). The Blood telegram: Nixon, Kissinger, and a forgotten genocide.
  • Lastly, all I can say is that after talking to Niazi and reading his book, I have had the impression that he symbolises the majority of the Pakistan Army. They are thick, almost robot-like. Their pride is enormous, and they see Pakistan as the world as a whole. The intelligent minority in the army have always used them. ... To understand the mind of the Pakistani Generals, reading Niazi's book is a must.
    • The vanquished generals and the liberation war of Bangladesh by Muntassir Mamoon
  • In the new state only the armed forces flourished. They were seen at first as the defenders, and possible extenders, of the Islamic state. Then it became apparent that they were the state’s only organized group. They became masters, a country within a country. The armed forces were mainly of the northwest, with the cultural prejudices of the northwest; in time they forced the eastern wing of Pakistan into secession as Bangladesh.
    • Naipaul, V.S. - Among the Believers (Vintage, 1982)

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