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Military is what forms a country’s base. From international politics’ perspective, it is that factor
which determines to what extent a country is capable of tackling supervised attacks, be it
economically, socially or physical combat.
According to Wikipedia, The military, consisting of the Army, Navy and Air Force, and also called
the armed forces, are forces authorized to use lethal and / or deadly force, and weapons, to support
the interests of the state and some or all of its citizens.1
The military is termed as a force that is used
to conduct tactical, specialized combat attacks to ensure the safety of a country’s socioeconomic
position and citizens. The task of the military is defense of the state, the citizens and countering or
initiating a war.
Military and Its Importance
Military is one of the major institutions in a country. An army is sponsored by government through
national treasury for its operations. Military being the backbone of a country’s stability ensures the
defense of country against internal and external threats. A military has three branches: Army, Air
Force & Navy. Some of the important aspects from which military is important for a country, are:
A strong military ensures the existence of its country
Military plays and important role in a country’s foreign policy and relations with other
Maintain law and order inside a country
Civil emergency situations
History of Pakistani Military
Pakistan Military was a part of the Great Britain Army. After the partition of 1947, like all the other
resources and institutions, the joint military was divided into two parts. One of which went to India
while the other was entrusted to server the newly created state of Pakistan. The partition, however,
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was not fair as far as point of view of Pakistanis is concerned. Due to a shortage of experienced
officers, several hundred British officers remained in Pakistan on contract until the early 1950s.
Pakistan received six armored, eight artillery and eight infantry regiments
compared to the India’s share of twelve armored, forty artillery and
twenty-one infantry regiments. Pakistan Army started weak with less
troops and equipment than needed.
Pakistan Army was created in June 1947 led by General Sir Frank
Messervy, the first Chief of Army Staff. Due to Kashmir issue Pakistan
Army had to face its first test in 1947 Indo-Pak war. After that, Pakistan Army was helped by the US
and Britain to establish itself properly when it joined the CENTO and SEATO in 1954.
First two commanders of Pakistan Army were British while Muhammad Ayub Khan was the first
one from Pakistan. General Qamar Javed Bajwa is currently serving as the Chief of Army Staff
replacing General Raheel Shareef, who is thought of as the best COAS in Pakistan Army history.
1 Commanders of Pakistan Army (1947-2016)
Counted among top 10 strongest Air Forces in the world, Pakistan Air Force is the
aerial branch of Pakistan Military. As the result of 1947 partition, Pakistan Air Force
inherited 2,332 personnel, a fleet of 24 Tempest II fighter-bombers, 16 Hawker
Typhoon fighters, two H.P.57 Halifax bombers, 2 Auster aircraft, twelve North
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American Harvard trainers and ten de Havilland Tiger Moth biplanes from the Raj Military. It also
got eight C-47 Dakota cargo planes.
Pakistan Air Force started young under the leadership of Alan Perry-Keene on 14th
after the independence. Three more British chiefs followed Perry-Keene until Asghar Khan became
first local to become the Commander of Pakistan Air Force in 1957. PAF has been led by 21
Commanders so far, including the current Air Marshal, Sohail Aman. PAF showed its power first
time when an Indian jet violated the international border. Two Pakistani pilots shot down the aircraft
and captured the crew near Rawat, Rawalpindi. The small Air Force was aided by US, UK and later
by Russia and China to reach the era of its glory: the current era.
Pakistan Navy, like all the other branches, came to existence after the independence. Pakistani Navy,
although not the top in the world, is fully capable of protecting its 650 miles
coastline, and has proved it in the past.
Pakistan Navy was inherited with two sloops, two frigates, four
minesweepers, two naval trawlers, four harbor launches along with a number
of harbor defense motor launches, and 200 officers and 3000 sailors for that
James Wilfred Jefford was the first Naval Admiral of Pakistan Navy. Afterwards, 19 more Admirals
led the Navy one after the other which were are Pakistanis. Muhammad Zakaullah is the current
serving Admiral of Pakistan Navy.
Pakistan Army is the reason country’s pride in many aspects, some of which are:
Pakistan Army has been the major contributor in UN Peacekeeping Mission
Pakistan Army has defended the country in wars of 1947, 1965, 1971 & 1999 with India.
Pakistan has is the most active alley of US in war against terror and has conducted numerous
operations to eradicate the curse of terrorism in the country.
Pakistan Army special force SSG is the top one is World’s most formidable special units.
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A Pakistan Army team won gold in a premier patrolling event of the British Army called
Exercise Cambrian Patrol in 2015.2
SSG helped to end the Grand Mosque Seizure in 1979 (most important event in Muslim
Qatar is looking to Pakistan for military support at the 2022 soccer World Cup.
Pakistan Air Force:
Muhammad Mahmood Alam holds the record for eliminating maximum target aircrafts in
less than a minute. i.e., he got five Indian jets in fifty-five seconds.3
Eliminated first ever intrusion in 1959
Proved to be on heavier side during Indo-Pak wars
Pakistani pilot volunteered for the Arab-Israeli wars in 1967 and 1973, and proved their
domination in the air.
Pakistan Air Force assisted the neighboring country during the Soviet-Afghan war
JF-17 Thunder, a production of PAF with collaboration of Republic of China, has been
admired by other countries and they have shown interest in buying these aircrafts.
Operation of Dwarka still haunts Indian Military even though 50 years have passed.
Pakistan Navy has proved its domination is the sea during the Indo-Pak wars and also the
Cold War era.
Pakistan Navy provides safety to shipments passing the Arabian Sea
Pakistan Navy has been pro-active in rescue operations against rebels and pirates, and has
liberated hundreds of people of different nationalities from pirates.
Pakistani submarines are considered to be better than competitive Navies
Pakistan Navy has recently acquired nuclear technology in submarines
The Pakistani military, in specific, is ranked 13 globally in terms of military assets and man power.
Starting with the brief analysis of Pakistan’s military in terms of assets, a detailed table explains it.4
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Manpower: Perceived fighting strength is the
actual manpower that drives the military.
Wars of attrition favor those with more.
Total population: 199,085,847
Available Manpower: 95,000,000
Fit for service: 75,325,000
Active Frontline Personnel: 620,000
Active Reserve Personnel: 515,000
Land Systems: In addition to the manpower,
the land might is another important factor that
determines the capability of a given military.
These include Tanks, Armored Personnel
Carriers and Infantry Fighting Vehicles.
Armored Fighting Vehicles: 2,828
Self Propelled Guns: 465
Towed Artillery: 3,278
Multiple-Launch Rocket Systems: 134
Air Power: To counter the mighty air attacks
from anti-Pakistani regimes, a mighty air
power has also been functional to provide
maximum counter activity. This includes both
fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircrafts.
Total Aircrafts: 923
Fixed Wing Aircraft: 394
Transport Aircraft: 261
Attack Helicopters: 52
Naval Power: Navy counters the open sea
attacks that threaten the existence of a
country. It protects the oceanic boundaries,
ports and conducts underwater combats.
Pakistan has huge naval assets which serve to
defend its identity.
Total Naval Strength: 197
Aircraft Carriers: 0
Mini Warfare: 3
Coastal Defense Craft: 12
These numbers may be argumentative since official amount is a matter of national secrecy.
The challenges faced by military differ from country to country, here, we are merely considering the
challenges faced by Pakistani military. The overriding concern of Pakistan’s national life is security.
In that regards, countering insurgencies by foreign forces is the major work that is done by Pakistani
military. However, major challenge is terrorism. The world politics tries its level best to portray
Pakistan as a state harboring terrorist activities, while in reality, Pakistan is the biggest victim of
terrorism itself. Potential war with India is another challenge that the military of Pakistan has to deal
with. CNN has put the potential war with India in following terms:
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“India and Pakistan have been fighting over Kashmir for almost seven decades, but tensions have
reached a boiling point this year, after armed militants attacked an Indian army base and two
Pakistani soldiers were killed in clashes with Indian troops. Last week, cross-border shelling hit a
passenger bus and killed at least nine people in Pakistani-administered Kashmir, in what Prime
Minister Nawaz Sharif described as naked aggression." 5
It is pretty evident that the nuclear neighbors are at the verge of what could possibly be termed as
another World War due to the level of tensions involved. Since, both nations fathom the extent of
damage that could possibly happen as an aftermath of nuclear strike, so the situation has come to a
Operation Zarb-e-Azab has been the most iconic event in the history of Pakistani military. It was a
full scale military operation in North Waziristan as a reaction to the terrorist attacks that had been
going on in the country. The operation was started by Pakistan’s most iconic general Raheel Sharif,
the ex-Chief of Army Staff. The operation has helped Pakistan stabilize itself after the terrorist
attacks that had happened. Recently, the Pakistan had its new Chief of Army Staff, General Qamar
Bajwa. In continuation of the National Action Plan (NAP), another full scale operation i.e. Radd-ul-
Fasaad has been launched. The ISPR press release states:
“Pakistan Army launches ‘Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad’ across the country. Operation aims at
indiscriminately eliminating residual/latent threat of terrorism, consolidating gains of operation
made thus far and further ensuring security of the borders. Pakistan Air Force, Pakistan Navy, Civil
Armed Forces and other security and law enforcing agencies (LEAs) will actively participate in and
'intimately support' the armed forces' efforts to eliminate the menace of terrorism from the country.
The effort entails conduct of Broad Spectrum Security / Counter-Terrorism operations by Rangers in
Punjab, continuation of ongoing operations across the country, and focus on more effective border
security management. Countrywide de-weaponisation and explosive control are additional cardinals
of the effort. Pursuance of National Action Plan will be the hallmark of this operation.” 6
Following is the list of recent terrorist attacks that have fueled the proceedings of Operation Radd-
On Feb 21, security forces killed three suicide attackers who attempted to wreak havoc at a local
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court in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa's Charsadda district. The attack had killed five civilians and was
claimed by the proscribed Jamaat-ul-Ahraar (JuA).
On Feb 16, the shrine of Sufi saint Lal Shahbaz Qalandar in Sehwan was struck by a suicide bomber
affiliated with the militant Islamic State. The worst in the recent flurry of militant activity in
Pakistan, it saw at least 88 killed and more than 300 injured after a suicide bomber targeted devotees
during the evening dhamaal.
Aftermath of attack on the shrine of Sufi saint Lal Shahbaz Qalandar.
Earlier the same day, an explosive device had targeted an Army convoy in the Awaran area of
Baluchistan, killing three soldiers.
On Feb 15, a suicide bomber had struck in Mohmand, killing three personnel of the Khasadar force
and five civilians. This attack was also claimed by the JuA.
The same day, a suicide bomber rammed his motorcycle into a vehicle carrying judges in Peshawar's
Hayatabad Phase 5 area, killing the driver and injuring its four other occupants. This attack was
claimed by the TTP.
On Feb 13, a suicide bomber had struck a protest on Lahore's Charring Cross interchange, killing 13
and injuring 85. The attack had happened right outside the gates of Punjab's Provincial Assembly.
The attack was claimed by the JuA.
On the same day, two personnel of Baluchistan’s bomb disposal squad were killed as they attempted
to defuse an explosive device planted under the Sariab Road bridge in Quetta, the provincial capital.
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Chronology of Military Operations in Pakistan:
The following are major military operations carried out by armed forces against local and foreign
militants in the recent past:
Operation Rah-i-Haq-I in Swat valley and Shangla district (2007)
Operation Rah-i-Haq-II in Swat valley and Shangla (2008)
Operation Sirat-i-Mustaqeem in Khyber Agency (2008)
Operation Sherdil jointly launched with Frontier Corps in Bajaur Agency (2008)
Operation Rah-i-Haq-III in Swat valley and Shangla (2009)
Operation Black Thunderstorm in Buner, Lower Dir and Shangla district (2009)
Operation Brekhna in Mohmand Agency (2009)
Operation Rah-i-Rast, commonly known as Swat Operation, (2009)
Operation Rah-i-Nijat in South Waziristan (2009)
Operation Zarb-i-Azb in North Waziristan along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border (2014)
Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad across the country (2017)
All of these operations have been started as a response to some terrorist activity that had taken place,
and these operations have been successful enough to ensure the peace.
Pakistani military might would be incomplete if the competent intelligence agency of the country had
not been included. The guardian referred to ISI as, “Pakistan's notorious and feared spy agency”.7
Inter Services Intelligence aka ISI, is the intelligence agency of
Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Countries do not operate without the
support of intelligence agencies since fortuitous attacks are always
a threat. The ISI is ranked among the best intelligence agencies in
World, far ahead of Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) of India.
Following are the most important missions of ISI that have helped
ensure peace in the region.
1978: Col Hussain Imam who was a Military Attaché to the
Embassy of Libya in Islamabad was seen by ISI meeting two
Pakistani exiles that hated the current military regime and were Bhutto loyalists. They had received
terrorist training in Libya and were ready to embark on a terrorist campaign in Pakistan to force the
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Army to step down from power. All members of the conspiracy were apprehended before any
damage could be done
1980s: ISI played a central role in the U.S. backed guerrilla war to oust the Soviet Army from
Afghanistan in the 1980s. CIA supported Pakistan with weapons and ISI trained fighters of Afghan,
Pakistan and Arab origin, distribute arms, and channel money. The ISI trained about 83,000 Afghan
soldiers between 1983 and 1997, and dispatched them to Afghanistan who vanished Soviets from
1980-1985: After successfully destroying Iraq's under construction Nuclear reactor at Osirak, there
were multiple attempts to strike Pakistan's Nukes site of Kahuta by IAF with Israeli support during
1981-1985. These plan were revealed on time, mostly by ISI or with the confirmation of ISI, and
preemptive measures were taken by PAF to counter such attacks, mainly striking back the Indian &
Israeli Nuclear sites. As a result, Pakistan successfully pursued its nuclear program.
2014: Indian chief of army staff Gen. Bikram issued orders to deploy troops along the borders with
Pakistan, but ISI got the information in few hours and as a reaction Pakistan Army deployed its
troops near the Indian borders which alerted Indian authorities. General Bikram Singh briefed then
PM Manmohan Singh of the situation and retreated the troops with heavy casualties due to poor
management of army movement.
2014-2015: (Operation Zarb-e-Azab) Before start of Operation ISI agents identified major targets,
line of communication, Telecom equipment of terrorists, their tactics and weapons manufacturing
and storage facilities, routes of escape to Afghanistan. Before ops ISI identified many helpers of
terror network in Pakistan, a large Part of Network was taken down and TTP was only able to attack
unarmed civilian, their original Plan in case of huge operation was to attack Cantonments with
motors and Rockets but due to hard work of ISI operatives this plan failed because a key weapon
smuggling network was taken out, many helpers nabbed.
In the line of fire, is the finest memoir written by an ex-Army General cum President of Islamic
Republic of Pakistan which presents a true picture of Pakistan’s military might. Militaries are the
organizations that serve as the base of countries, the pillars of states are set on the base of military. A
country without military is like a ship without rudder. It is quite evident that a formidable military
can produce abundant diplomatic and economic dividends, even—especially—when not wielded in
wartime. A well-appointed military improves the diplomacy with adversaries and strengthens our
alliances. President Ronald Reagan’s mantras is still in the picture and correctly explains how
important is the military’s presence to form an intimidating stance in international politics. He states,
“peace through strength”. Peace is not simply the absence of war, not in case of Pakistan, at least.
We are well aware how secret tactical attacks, terrorist attacks, prove to be challenging enough to
strike at the very existence of a nation. Thus, military-might is what determines if a nation survives
or perishes. Thus, this tradition has served our interests well and has done much to protect our
national security and project our national power over the past century. It has become embedded in
our national security institutions and is a primary source of national strength.
Others given as footnotes