Pak Army by Dr Farrukh Saleem

Capital suggestion
 Pak Army is under attack like never before - more than 100,000 army and FC troops are under attack by a host of Violent Non-State Actors (VNSA). Pakistan’s top politicians are bent upon weakening the institution they feel threatens their hold over absolute power. Some in the media are attacking the army’s ‘chain of command’ like never before and certain judicial maneuverings -unwittingly - are may be damaging unit cohesion and the army’s capacity to fight.

In Swat, the 37th Mechanised Infantry Division, the 19th Infantry Division and the 3rd Infantry Division managed to ‘clear’ the entire area from the hold of VNSAs. Unfortunately, the follow-up phases of ‘holding’ and ‘building’ that were to be undertaken by the civil administration have so far failed miserably. In South Waziristan, the 14th Infantry Division and the 9th Infantry Division are under attack while the 7th Infantry Division is holding turf in North Waziristan.

Within the media, some elements are playing a game of their own. There are indeed candid voices in the media that stand to identify genuine flaws related to the army’s worldview. But, there also are elements that attack the army’s ‘chain of command’ for their own ratings or for other favours. Hizbut Tahrir (HuT) has opened up its own front against Pak Army’s ‘chain of command’.

To be sure, the road we are on has come to a two-pronged fork. One of the prongs leads to Somalia and the other to Yugoslavia; the first leads to the ‘failed state scenario’ and the second to ‘balkanisation’.

Let’s first consider the ‘failed state scenario’. Somalia hasn’t had an effective government since 1991. The other four Somali characteristics were: economic growth stuck at under three percent; an economy dependent on foreign remittances; a large informal sector and an ill-disciplined, impotent Somali National Army (SNA). All this led Somalia into complete anarchy, civil war and state failure. Their army lacked the capacity to restore government writ and failed to keep the northern clans from declaring independence.

Can Pakistan become Asia’s Somalia? Well, our economic as well as our governance indicators are moving toward the ‘failed state’ direction. Our federal and provincial governments are largely ineffective. Our economic growth rate has been stuck at under three percent. Our economy is dependent on foreign remittances and we have a large informal sector. Intriguingly, the only exception is the Pak Army - the 620,000 strong, disciplined, organised force. Pakistan will not become Asia’s Somalia for as long as the Pak Army’s ‘chain of command’ remains intact.

Can Pakistan become Asia’s Yugoslavia? Yugoslavia was once a country. Not any more. Yugoslavia split into six - Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Slovenia and Serbia. Imagine; starting in 1943 till his death in 1980, Josip Tito served as the supreme commander of the Yugoslav People’s Army (YPA) holding the rank of Marshal of Yugoslavia. Marshal Tito, with 620,000 active duty personnel of the YPA under this command, kept Yugoslavia in-tact. Within a decade of Tito’s death, the YPA had to fight the Slovenia Territorial Defence in the Ten-Day War. The weakened YPA then had to take on Croatian forces seeking independence. YPA, fighting on multiple fronts, was weakened to the extent that it could not keep Yugoslavia in one piece.

Can Pakistan become Asia’s Yugoslavia? Pakistan will not become Asia’s Yugoslavia as long as Pak Army’s ‘unit cohesion’ and its ‘chain of command’ remain intact.

The writer is a columnist based in Islamabad. Email:


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