Pak Army: Men at their Best

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The Pakistan Army is the branch of the Pakistani Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. The Pakistan Army came into existence after the creation of Pakistan in 1947. It is currently headed by General Qamar Javed Bajwa. The Pakistan Army is a volunteer professional fighting force.

The Pakistan Army was created on 30 June 1947 with the division of the British Indian Army. The soon to be created Dominion of Pakistan received six armored, eight artillery and eight infantry regiments compared to the 12 armored, forty artillery and twenty-one infantry regiments that went to India. Fearing that India would take over the state of Kashmir, irregulars, scouts and tribal groups entered Kashmir to oppose the Maharaja of Kashmir and Kashmiri Hindus and Sikhs in 1947, even though the Maharaja chose to join the Union of India. This led to the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947. Regular army units joined the invasion later on but were stopped after the refusal of the army chief of staff, British officer General Sir Frank Messervy, to obey Pakistani leader Jinnah’s orders to move the army into Kashmir. A cease fire followed on U.N. intervention with Pakistan occupying the northwestern part of Kashmir and India occupying the rest. Later, during the 1950s, the Pakistan Army received large amounts of economic and military aid from the United States and Great after signing two mutual defense treaties, the Baghdad Pact, which led to the formation of the Central Treaty Organization, and the South East Asian Treaty Organization (SEATO) in 1954. This aid greatly expanded the Army from its modest beginnings.

The sole division headquarters that went to Pakistan was the 7th. 8th and 9th Divisions were raised in 1947; 10, 12th and 14 Divisions were raised in 1948. 15 Div was raised in 1950. At some point before 1954, 6 Division was raised and 9 Division disbanded. 6 Division was disbanded at some point after 1954 as US assistance was available only for one armored and six infantry divisions.

Command Structure

The Chief of the Army Staff (COAS), formerly called the Commander in Chief (C in C). The COAS operates from army headquarters in Rawalpindi, near Islamabad. The Principal Staff Officers (PSO’s) assisting him in his duties at the Lieutenant General level include a Chief of General Staff (CGS), under whom the Military Operations and Intelligence Directorates function; the Chief of Logistics Staff (CLS); the Adjutant General (AG); the Quarter-Master General (QMG); the Inspector General of Training and Evaluation (IGT&E); and the Military Secretary (MS). A major reorganization in GHQ was done in September 2008 under General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, when two new PSO positions were introduced: the Inspector General Arms and the Inspector General Communications and IT, thus raising the number of PSO’s to eight.

The headquarters function also includes the Judge Advocate General (JAG), and the Comptroller of Civilian Personnel, the Engineer-in-Chief of the Corps of Engineers who is also head of Military Engineering Service(MES), all of them also report to the Chief of the Army Staff. Although most of the officer corps were generally Muslim by the 1970’s, there were still serving Christian officers the highest rank being attained by Major General Julian Peter who served as the General Officer Commanding of a Division and as general staff officer at Army Headquarters up-till 2006.

Rank Structure

The rank structure is patterned on the British Army model. Following the British Indian Army traditions, there are three junior commissioned officer (JCO) grades between enlisted and officer rank, for those who rise by promotion from among enlisted recruits. The Junior Commissioned Officer is a continuation of the formerViceroy’s Commissioned Officer rank. During the early days of the Pakistan Army, there was a large cultural gap between officers and enlisted personnel. In the early 1990s, JCOs had wide responsibilities in the day-to-day supervision of lower grades, but they were a group that may have outlived its usefulness because officers have become “more Pakistani” and less dependent on British models and because the education level of enlisted men has risen. Promotion to JCO rank, however, remains a powerful incentive for enlisted personnel; thus, if JCO ranks are ever phased out, it will likely be a slow process.

Achievements of Pak Army:

The War on Terror had a major impact on Pakistan after the 9/11 attacks in 2001. Pakistan has remained the target of different terrorist organizations for years. Different militant groups emerged during the US-led war in Afghanistan. Pakistan, being the ally of the US in WOT, had to face serious challenges both from inside and outside of the country. Waziristan and KPK for its proximity with the Afghan border had to face several attacks from different militant groups, mostly from across the border.

Under such circumstances the Pakistan Army launched operation Zarb-e-Azb and with an active support of the entire nation achieved unparalleled successes in the war against terrorism. The government and the military leadership took a number of difficult steps during the last few years. Pakistan is the only country that has rendered more sacrifices than any other country in this costly and protracted war. The above graph shows a gradual decline in the incidents of terrorist attacks during the last three years.

Moreover, under the National Action Plan, NACTA and COIN, a well thought out plan was envisaged especially to de-radicalise the society, especially in FATA and KPK. Though heavy price was paid in terms of the killing of Dr Farooq, the head of De-Radicalisation Plan, yet this programme remained successful and hundreds of youths, who had been earlier hired by TTP for suicide bombing, recovered from South Waziristan and elsewhere where their handlers had been training them, were brought out from the brainwashed mindsets.

Armed forces of Pakistan took a number of measures during 2016 aimed at enhancing the security and ensuring safety of the people subsequently making the country’s defence further impregnable.

At the end of 2016 and on the advent of 2017, Director General of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Major General Asif Ghafoor, in a tweet message, said, “Journey 2016 Towards a secure and peaceful Pakistan – Pakistanis Zindabad.”

He said during the Operation Zarb-e-Azb, 3500 terrorists were killed and 2108 were injured. Those embraced Shahadat in defense of country during the operation was 583.

During the year, Pakistan Rangers conducted 1992 operations in Karachi whereby arresting 2847 criminals, besides 350 terrorists and 446 target killers. Due to this hard work, the cases of target killing has been reduced by 91 % while terror acts by 72 %.

Director General ISPR said that 71% Temporarily Displaced Persons (TDPs) in North Waziristan Agency due to Operation Zarb-e-Azb have repatriated while 68 % TPDs, and 91 % others of South Waziristan and Khyber Agency respectively have returned to their native areas.

Strength of Pakistan Army

The armed forces of the country have been ranked 13th out of a list of 133 countries based on their capability on land, sea and air, as well as their financial dexterity, and the size of the geographical boundaries of Pakistan with other states.

In the annual GFP review of 2017, Pakistan Armed Forces scored 0.3287, 0.000 being the perfect score in the list, on the Military Strength Power Index. Currently, the country dedicates $7 billion from its annual budget for defence purposes.

Manpower is an important part of the PI score, and GFP notes that “wars of attrition usually favour those with more manpower”. Pakistan has 919,000 total military personnel, out of which 637,000 are on active duty, the GFP database reveals. With a total population of 201,995,540 people, there are approximately 95,000,000 men available for duty in the country, 75,325,000 of which are “fit-for-service”.

An assessment of the air power of the country, which include “both fixed wing and rotary wing (helicopters)” types, has put the total aircraft strength of Pakistan Armed Forces at 951. The list includes aircraft from all branches of the forces. According to GFP, Pakistan has 301 fighter aircraft, 394 attack aircraft, and 316 helicopters, 52 of those which are attack choppers.

The evaluation of the strength of land forces in Pakistan classifies the number of combat tanks, armoured vehicles, and rocket projectors, among other equipment, that the military has. GFP data have put the total number of combat tanks owned by the country at 2,924. In addition to these, Pakistan has 2,828 armoured fighting vehicles and 134 rocket projectors.

Another important consideration in the total PI score is naval assets, and the GFP notes that Pakistan has a total of 197 naval assets, of which 17 are patrol crafts, eight are submarines, and 10 frigates.

Pak Army’s Counter Terrorism Operations from 2007-2017

2007: Operation Rah-i-Haq-I in Swat

2008: Operation Rah-i-Haq-II in Swat

2008: Operation Sirat-i-Mustaqeem in Khyber Agency

2008: Operation Sherdil in Bajaur Agency

2009: Operation Rah-i-Haq-III in Swat

2009: Operation Black Thunderstorm in Buner and Swat

2009: Operation Brekhna in Mohmand Agency

2009: Operation Rah-i-Rast in Swat

2009: Operation Rah-i-Nijat in South Waziristan

2014: Operation Zarb-i-Azb in North Waziristan

2017: Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad, country-wide.

Published in Melange Int. Magazine September 2018.