Why this army? - Pakistan Today

Why this army?

Imagine all the money we could save

Mehdi Hassan and Noor Jehan’s songs held the public in thrall during the war of 1965: Apni jaan nazar karoon; Aye watan kay sajilay jawanon; Meria dhol sipaiya. Now if only the dhol sipaiya would remember their raison d’etre, people would still be peshing their wafas to the army today and they’d be something more than just sajilay.

Many jawans lost their lives in Pakistan’s several wars and skirmishes against enemies within and without its borders. However the armed forces cannot claim to be alone in their losses here.

According to figures produced by the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), in 2003 140 civilians lost their lives in Pakistan, as did 24 members of the Security Forces and 25 terrorists. These numbers peaked in 2009 with 2,307 civilian, 1,011 Security Force and 8,267 terrorist deaths…a staggering 11,585 deaths that single year alone.

In 2010 the figures were down to 1,796 civilian, 469 SF, and 384 terrorist deaths, a total of 7,435 fatalities. Data collected up to February in 2011 indicated 226 civilian, 98 SF, and 384 terrorist deaths…in two months alone.

All in all, 9,620 civilians died in the space of seven years and two months in this country, while 3,443 SF personnel and 20,150 terrorists lost their lives, a staggering total of 33,213 lives all told.

Either the armed forces are no longer effective, or unable to be so.

Mind you, the performance elsewhere is as poor. Each successive civilian government has been more inept than the one before, so much so that our current president has been WikiLeaked as a ‘numbskull’ in a conversation between Sir Jock Stirrup and American diplomats, and as ‘highly corrupt’ to quote other senior British officials.

I found myself writing last week about whether democracy is all that it is cracked up to be. Can the same question be asked about the armed forces? Dare I ask if an army is really necessary in this country, at least in the shape, size and form it takes today?

Casting a slur (whether real or imagined), on two groups seems to cause the supporters of each to spit and foam incoherently at the mouth. So much so that writing about them has become for me an exercise in taking the Mickey out of both. Those two groups are the PTI and the army.

So let’s carry on with a few more facts.

According to an article by Kamran Yousaf in a daily newspaper, Pakistan’s defence budget for the year 2011-12 increased by almost 12 percent from the previous year, and now stands at over Rs 495 billion. This does not include a whopping Rs 73 billion set aside for military pensions which sum is to be taken from the civilian budget, in addition to other sums taken from the civilian budget. The column goes on to say that according to Bushra Gohar of the ANP, the defence budget of Pakistan has never been properly questioned in parliament.

Any organisation that finds itself running out of jobs has to create them. The huge American arms industry has been doing so for years by supporting and creating the need for weapons around the world. WikiLeaks have indicated that the Pakistani establishment too is implicated in supporting terrorism in the entire South Asian region…and beyond. It also points towards the corruption of the various components of the Pakistani government.

The ineptness/involvement of the Pakistan army in the Osama bin Laden case, their ineffectiveness in the Raymond Davis episode, American drone attacks and regional militant violence begs the question why such huge amounts of funds are being diverted from the crucial needs of a poverty stricken nation into military coffers.

To quote one single example, the Shaukat Khanum Cancer Hospital in Lahore needs more than two billion rupees in donations this year to help patients who are otherwise unable to pay for themselves.

And there are many, many other examples. Two years ago the Layton Rahmatulla Benevolent Trust which runs a free eye hospital in Lahore required Rs 423 million to be able to continue treating curable blindness in Pakistan. This year costs have risen as have their requirements.

Education needs money. Roads, power, industry…all beg for help, and we give money to a bunch of people who end up forming a state within a state and have become so much too big for their boots? Let me spell that out: what justification does such huge and ineffective military spending have when our people have no food and in many places no drinking water?

Given such conditions, we may all be better off overrun by foreign armies anyway.

What excuse do we have for pandering so to our army?

Rabia Ahmed

The writer is a freelance columnist. Read more by her at http://rabia-ahmed.blogspot.com/



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51 Comments

  1. hats-off said:

    Wow ! Some gutsy lady! I wonder whether Ms.Ahmed actually lives in Pakistan or some foreign country. After reading recently about the fate of Mr.Shahazad (?) the news reporter, I can't believe her courage in writing this article.

  2. Shahid Kureshi said:

    The lady I am sure is not only a non-resident but also has another passport tucked away somewhere, whether she admits to it or not is a separate issue. To start with she has her maths all wrong because of sheer ignorance. The civilian casualties will always be more in numbers in terrorist attacks as compared to conventional warfare for obvious reasons; it should therefore not put the ability of the armed forces into question; unless of course one is being paid to do it.
    The answer to her question as to whether these blokes in uniform are really necessary or not can be answered truthfully in peace-time by the teeming millions who were affected by floods or the earthquake. The residents of SWAT may also enlighten her somewhat.. I am sure she would be questioning the two-nation theory too and contributing towards the Aman ki Asha shindig, to doubt the requirement of this Army. It takes all kinds.

    • D.J. said:

      And also go and read the history of wars your army has fought. In those wars, too, civilians were made the front-line force. Armies of other countries protect civilians but in Pakistan, civilians shield the army. This army is good enough only to frighten its own people.

    • @IAgnikul said:

      Do you remember when Pakistan was reduced to less than half it's original size by the narrow sighted and narrow minded actions of our military and civilian bureaucrats while Gen Yahya's and Ayub presided?
      Who needs enemies when we have friends like the Pak Army which eats us out of progress and development and brainwashes us to admire our tormentors.

  3. Zohaib Ali Memon said:

    In addition to taking away half the budget, the army runs several commercial and industrial enterprises under the banners of fauji foundation and bahria foundation and are still shamelessly running that marriage hall service out of PNS Mehran even after that attack. And their real state endeavours in the shape of DHAs in every city are just ridiculous.

    • Bilal said:

      Why people don't stop visiting these commercial and industrial enterprises run by army if they have so much to say against it…and about DHAs too….

  4. Ovais Omer said:

    Didn’t she know, we have an everlasting enemy in shape of India…we have to bear such heavy expenses for the Army to defend our position in the region…!!!

  5. Ovais Omer said:

    If she’s a journalist, she must been aware with the issue of “Imbalance of Power”…the main reason for Wars..!!

  6. Ovais Omer said:

    After having nuclear power, There is somehow balance of power / minimum level of detention between Pak. & India, and is the reason avoiding any possible war b/w the 2 countries

  7. Ovais Omer said:

    Surprised how these people try to be famous over night by criticizing unnecessary on Army, likely Asma Jahangir, Hussain Haqqani and so on..!!

  8. Farasat Bukhari said:

    This article was purely based on blaming Pakistan Army for everything even lack of fund for education and other matters. Yes partially Army might be responsible for this .. Lets suppose Army is ..but the lady never talked about the most corrupt government in the history of Pakistan. The government which is also busy in gathering money from all possible means and ways from the general public and other resources ( IMF, World Bank, Carry Lugar Bill etc ). The government who is more interested in renovating Presidential Kitchen then putting any money in education and health sector in fact the government finished all HEC funded scholarships and awards from Education sector. And The lists on .. Today there is no gas, electricity, industries are busted.. We are saying Bye Bye to Railway and PIA .. just because of Pak Army lolx. Well Done Lady .. You’ll become Ambassador of some where in Europe and yeah you also forgot to mention that President Zardari became owner of 6 banks and sugar mills because of Pak Army .. Grow up Lady . keep your facts straight on everyone, don’t blame it on one party only without any authentic facts 🙂

  9. Zohaib Ali Memon said:

    The army is the most corrupt institution in the country and they dont want peace which is why they have been perpetuatiing conflicts left and right! Kashmir will never get solved because our adventurous generals would never want their chokehold on the country to be removed. National security has become a blackmailing point so that we never question anything about the army. But as tax paying citizens we have the right to demand accountability from the army just as much from the democratic govt and judiciary. We are all patriotic and just because some of us question the army’s actions doesnt mean we are agents or enemies of Pakistan or Islam, it means we care!

  10. Syed ALi MehDi Rixvi said:

    whatever she said but that she was right … we need not to have no army but this one we certainly don’t need this … just sucking our blood out like govt. … have this army made any useful or worthful step in last 10 years ?? any achievements anything ..??

    can anyone who criticizes this answer this that ‘why does any foreign higher official visits general kiyani instead of related officials ???

    and remember when we are talking abt army we don’t consider all soldiers just those high ranked generals n commanders

  11. Ovais Omer said:

    While criticizing Army, you people must read the Report of UN Ambassador ANGELINA JULIE regarding Pakistani Civil Leadership and their ELITE & LUXURIOUS LIFESTYLE using state resources (Public fund)

    • PakiKaka said:

      Oh yeah, and who brought back this indulgent leadership back to Pakistan through NRO ? it was your establishment. It's sickening how blind educated people of our country can be.

      • Shahid Kureshi said:

        Sorry to learn of your blindness Kaka. Tell me did you poll your vote or just sit on your butt and observed a holiday on the last election day? Now you know who brought these guys into power.

  12. Tariq Anwar said:

    In the same context, we will be better off without ….say politicians, whole bureaucracy, even whole population as none is delivering.

  13. Hamza Arshad said:

    One thing our worthy analysts keep on pursuing is the effectiveness of our army, as Ms Rabia Ahmed has deemed to go after, almost in a 'hot pursuit'. A thing which everyone has to understand, or at least try to understand, that our khakimen are not designed to counter the hyper power of American war machine but to athwart Indian hostile design, if any. Here they, army men, have been successful as we sleep every night peacefully with not fear of Indian tanks rushing in our boarders. NATO could not daunt taliban in Afghanistan as we did in Swat or SW.

    • muhammad said:

      my dear, NEHRU was stupid MANMOHAN SINGH is an economist,rest assure he ain't taking PAKISTAN.He would let AMERICA to give money to us UNGRATEFUL BEGGERS .HE DON'T WANNA FIANANCE WE LAZY PEOPLES.

    • ayesha said:

      So why do Bangladeshis not fear Indian tanks rolling in? Why despite having half the per capita income of Pakistan do fewer Bangladeshi kids die (lower infant mortality rate) and fewer remain illiterate compared to Pakistan? BEcause they have never attacked India , so India has never had reason to retaliate. Thus instead of feeding the army, it feeds is people.

  14. Pakistan said:

    Pakistan would be better off without these politicians – the only reason this country is still here is because of the Army.

    • @IAgnikul said:

      Wish we could say the same for East Pakistan.
      Actually, isn't the only reason East Pakistan is not here is our Army?

    • @IAgnikul said:

      Agree, but it should not hog all the resources from the civilians it is purportedly defending. The Pak Army's reason for existence is our well being, not the other way round.

  15. c.m.sarwar said:

    Ms Rabia has taken great pains in compiling her data and proving disproportionate ratio of our defense expenditure without tackling the very basic question she raised at the start of her article.Is the army really necessary ,particularly in its current shape? Now this is a decision which only a civilian leadership can take.Unfortunately,we are caught up in a perpetual vicious cycle.Incompetent civilian setups are displaced and replaced by more incompetent military rule followed by a worse civilian misrule.So on and so forth.A directionless nation needs clarity and direction.Ms Rabia should talk about this and should not labour on the fringes of the bigger issue.

  16. Riaz Missen said:

    Security doctrine of the state draws inspiration from the identity of the state, which in case of Pakistan is bases on Islam, not on its geography (people, culture, landscape, weather conditions). So the army is not just the defender of geographical limits but also ideological frontiers as well. Revisiting the security doctrine, will start with revisiting the Constitution. And if you folks remember, Mr. Babar Awan once declared with a sense of pride,after the passage of 18th amendment, that he (as Law Minister) thwarted the attempt of a political party (read ANP) to declare Pakistan a People's Republic.

  17. NAM said:

    Why do we tend to blame Army for all our woes? Has anyone ever produced any evidence to support blames. I fully agree with the writer that Army if not required be curtailed. Why the parliament does not debate it?

  18. shoaib said:

    great article , bull's eye for suffering of our nation,,,analogy between America Arms industry to create war and Pak Army to create terror environment ( or portray india as threat to Pakistan ) is right on the spot …i wish people understand it rather then being emotional for our so-called guardian

  19. Naqi Akbar said:

    So easy to take extreme stances. Surely we need to balance out; but we cannot disarm completely; as per the West’s wishes. it would be a new form of East India Company!!!!

  20. Arif said:

    Highly biased article aimed at defaming Pakistan Army and to further brainwash people's minds. Just ask yourself honestly, which rule was better? Musharraf's or PPP's? And all the institutions were well paid during Musharraf's regime.
    The thing is, political parties are fearing a coup and they are paying traitor and shallow minded journalists like Rabia a bounty to write crap about Pakistan Army.
    And army that has lost most lives in this war, and still fighting. With soldiers dying daily, how could she suggest we don't need an army or we'll be better off without one. I swear,…………my blood is boiling right now…I'll use this newspaper to clean my buttocks.

  21. Malhi said:

    Fact 1 : This army has lost all its wars till date
    Fact 2 : If India wanted to annexe Pakistani territory, it would not have returned all prisoners of war and all captured territories without anything in return after every war.
    Fact 3 : Enemity with India is artificially kept alive by this army to justify its parasitic existence, which is bleeding the same country to death which is supposed to defend. Its export of terrorism to India is well known and this has become a uncontrollable hydra-headed entity, which is going to complete the ruin of this country.
    Fact 4 : All main pillars of the nation are in ruin, i.e. PIA, Railway, Electricity generation, social welfare, educational institutes and the only institution being fed is this army.
    Fact 5 : We are now creating new manageable enemy in Afghanistan as India is too big for this army in all respects. All those foaming and frothing above shall read their history and know that it was always Pakistan which initiated all wars with India. Hence if we dont attack it, it is not mad to start a war and ruin its hard won place among rising economic powers of the world. Nuclear weapons did not prevent our rout from Kargil heights.

  22. @IAgnikul said:

    The article is not at all biased. It is a fact that we overspend not only directly on Pakistan's military but also a large share of the country's income is diverted to the coffers of Military Inc.
    It is a farce that the Government spends so little on population control, healthcare, education and food security per capita in one of the poorest countries on Earth yet is able to find huge sums of money for military toys and generals magnificence. Who benefits from this policy?
    The myth is that we are surrounded by enemies who would devour us if the military does not protect us. The truth is that our military is devouring us.

  23. c.m.sarwar said:

    There are two basic yardsticks to measure the success or failure of a civilian government or the armed forces.A good civilian government should provide security,justice and deliver services to its citizens.An efficient and competent military should defend and protect territorial integrity of the nation.Also,there should be visible signs of prevalence of rule of law being applied to the lowest and the highest with equal rigidity.Let us judge our civilian democracies and our valiant military on a minimum scale of these criteria instead of making non-specific,generalized statements.

  24. @IAgnikul said:

    @c.m.sarwar nobody will disagree with your premise but I thought that the article already did measure the two although not in an academic way. The civilian governments have been glaringly inefficient, lunatics and thieves get the popular vote every time. The military regimes start well and end disastrously.

    Controls and rules of law do not apply to the military. Pakistan is considered an authoritarian regime (not free) because of the extrajudicial powers given to ISI, MI and other agencies. There is no meaningful audit of military expense. Territorial integrity is easier to demonstrate, especially in chunks as big as East Pakistan and Sia Chen.

    Pundits say more democracy is the solution to democracy's ills. Until we learn to elect reasonable people to Parliament these guys will always join hands to plunder the country in little things like subsidising their own breakfast nihari to allocating industries and Islamabad plots amongst themselves.

    Making any institution into a holy cow – whether parliament, military, judiciary or poltical party is not sensible.

    • c.m.sarwar said:

      I endorse your comments whole-heartedly.Ms Rabia's article had its predominant focus on armed forces.There is nothing wrong with what she has said.It all started with Ayub Khan in 1958.He took over in the absence of a competent civilian leadership thereby stunting a normal process of political growth .At this stage in our early start more democracy would have removed our teething problems through a few good elections.Ayub Khan,followed by Yahya,Zia and Musharaf ,assisted by unscrupulous politicians,distorted the very texture of the nation.A ruling elite,composed of few civilian/military families has emerged completely displacing the common man from governance.This,as far as I can see,is the total picture.I earnestly request the readers to come up with some solutions.

  25. samina said:

    Just because somebody dared to question the need to sustain such a huge army doesn't mean the writer is unpatriotic.
    Everybody with an iota of sense knows that if we want to progress we need need to improve ties with All our neighbors, not just India and cut down our military expenses.
    Pakistan needs to change its foreign policy. The idea of supporting Taliban in Afghanistan for the sake of 'strategic depth' was Wrong. We are suffering because of it.
    Whenever any steps are taken towards improving relations with India , Iran or Afghanistan those with vested interest, both within and outside the armed forces sabotage it . For example Mumbai attack, Jundallah attack on Iranian army headquarters, assassination of Burhanuddin Rabbani in Kabul.

  26. Yaseen Mohammed said:

    India's defense budget is higher than Pakistan's GDP,
    Its growing at 7.5 percent on an average per year for the last 10 years,
    is it not senseless for Pakistani's to think India will attack,No sane government will attack and ruin its own economy,Pakistani citizens have to open their eyes,to false Military propaganda,Pakistani youth should work hard and become engineers and doctors,propel the country forward like China and India rather than become an exclusive Aid dependent nation.

  27. Dr Imran Ahmed said:

    Bangladeshi's sensible attitude to Defence spending and successful adjustment of spending priorities towards social welfare and economic growth should be a model from which Pakistani's can learn.

  28. Omar Khan said:

    2011 budget for Pakistan: 2.7k billion
    Given to Military: 442.2 billion
    50% of above for army and the rest for navy and airforce
    So, Army budget approx: 221 Billion
    Remaining budget 2,257.8 billion

  29. Omar Khan said:

    Even if the writter says a whopping 95 billion extra is paid for pesions to people who have served the nation, lets say that is true we're still left with__2,162.8 billion with the civilian government which goes to places no one knows.____Please stop trying to get attention by blaming the army, in fact Pakistantoday should be responsible and only allow articles that have some substance instead of casualty figures – that's propostrous. The lady is so naive and betrays the fact that she doesn't know much about insurgancies and low intensity conflicts. We need the army. If we didn't have these men and women in uniform we'd be under constant threat of occupation by our eastern neighbours. They've moved to our borders twice quite recently and in the 2003 escalation their leadership even regretted delaying the offensive thinking it was the best time to deliver the blow. __So don't be naive. There is war across the world at the moment, with foreign powers suggesting ideas of breaking your country into pieces, taking baluchis away and stuff. Look at syria. Whether its right or wrong, do you think our country can survive a foreign sponsored insurgency without the army?__

    • Dr Imran Ahmed said:

      How big is Bangladesh's army? What is its military budget? How many times has it been invaded by India?

  30. sab ka malik ak hai said:

    pak should increased 100% percent from last defence budget .it would help pak .

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