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The Pakistan Army (Urdu: پاک فوجPak Fauj; Reporting name: PA) is the principle land warfare uniform service branch of the Pakistan Armed Forces. It came into the existence from the British Indian Army that ceased to exist following the partition of India that resulted in the independence of Pakistan on 14 August 1947.:1–2[5] According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), it had approximately 560,000 active personnel as of 2017.[6] In Pakistan, there is 16–23 years of age for voluntary military service; soldiers cannot be deployed for combat until age 18 according to its nation's constitution.[7]

Pakistan Army
پاک فوج‬‎
Pakistan Army Emblem.png
Emblem of the Pakistan Army
Founded (1947-08-14) August 14, 1947 (age 71)
Country Pakistan
RoleLand/Ground warfare
Size500,000 active-duty personnel[1]
60,000 Reserve personnel:459[2]
185,000 Army National Guard[3]
6,500 civilian personnel.[4]
316 manned aircraft.
Part ofMinistry of Defence
HeadquarterArmy GHQ, Rawalpindi Cantt, Punjab, Pakistan
Motto(s)Arabic: إِيمَان, تقوى, في سبيل الله
English: A follower of none but God, the fear of God, struggle for God
ColorGreen and White
AnniversariesDefense Day: September 6
Chief of Army StaffGeneral Qamar Javed Bajwa
Chief of General StaffLieutenant-General Nadeem Raza
War Flag
Flag of the Pakistani Army
Army Roundel
Roundel of Pakistan.svg
Pakistan Army Emblem.png
Aircraft flown
AttackBell AH-1S Cobra, Mil Mi-35M Hind-E
HelicopterBell 412, Bell 407, Bell 206, Bell UH-1 Huey
TransportMil Mi-8/17, Aérospatiale Alouette III, Bell 412

The primary objective and its constitutional mission is to ensure the national security and national unity of Pakistan by defending it against external aggression or threat of war, and internal threat by maintaining peace and security within its land borders by requisitioning it by the government to cope with internal threats.[8] During the events of national calamities and emergency, it conducts humanitarian rescue operations at home as well as participating in the peacekeeping missions mandated by the United Nations, most notably playing a major role in rescuing the trapped U.S. soldiers in Somalia in 1993 and Bosnian War in 1992–95.:70[9]

The Pakistan Army, which is a major component of the national power alongside with the Pakistan Air Force and Navy, has been involved with four wars on its borders with neighbouring India and several armed skirmishes on its porous border with Afghanistan.[10] Since 1960s, the elements of the army has been repeatedly deployed to act as military advisory in the Arab states during the events of Arab–Israeli wars, aided the UN-based coalition in the first Gulf War. Other notable military operations on War on Terror in the 21st century included: Zarb-e-Azb, Black Thunderstorm, and Rah-e-Nijat.[11]

In violation of its constitutional mandate, it has overthrown elected governments overreaching its constitutional mandate protected by the Constitution to "act in aid of civilian federal government when called upon to do so",[12] the army has been involved in enforcing martial law against the elected governments in claiming to restore law and order in the country by dismissing law making bodies of the parliament four times in past years, and has wider commercial, foreign, and political interests in the country acting as state within a state.[13][14][15][16][17]

The Pakistan Army has a regimental system but is operationally and geographically divided into command zones, with basic field of being the corps.[18] The Constitution declares the President of Pakistan to be the commander-in-chief.[19] The Pakistan Army is commanded by the Chief of Army Staff, by statute a four-star rank general, who is senior member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee is appointed by the Prime Minister and confirmed by the President of Pakistan.[20] The Pakistan Army is currently under the command of General Qamar Javed Bajwa appointed on 29 November 2016.[21][22]



Existence and its constitutional role is protected by the Constitution of Pakistan, where its role to serves as land-based uniform service branch of the Pakistan Armed Forces. In the Chapter 2: Armed Forces in the PartXII: Miscellaneous codified the mission and purpose of the army as alongside with the other parts of the Armed Forces as such:[23]

The Armed Forces shall, under the directions of the Federal Government, defend Pakistan against external aggression or threat of war, and, subject to law, act in aid of civil power when called upon to do so

— Constitution of Pakistan.[24]


Early originsEdit

Division of British Indian Army and the first war with India (1947–52)Edit

The Pakistan Army came into its modern birth from the division of the British Indian Army that ceased to exist as a result of the partition of India that resulted in the creation of Pakistan on 14 August 1947.:1–2[5] Before even the partition took place, there were plans ahead of dividing the British Indian Army in different parts based on the religious and ethnic influence on the areas of India.:1–2[5]

On 30 June 1947, the War Department of the British administration in India began planning the dividing of the ~400,000 men strong British Indian Army, but that only begin few weeks before the partition of India that resulted in violent religious violence in India.:1–2[5] The Armed Forces Reconstitution Committee (AFRC) under the chairmanship of British Field Marshal Sir Claude Auchinleck had devised the formula to divide the military assets between India and Pakistan with ratio of 2:1, respectively.:conts.[25]

The Map of Kashmir, showing the tri-national control from China, Pakistan, and India, ca. 2005.

Major division of the army was overseen by Sir Chandulal Madhavlal Trivedi, an Indian civil servant who was influential in making sure that ~260,000 men would be transferred into forming the Indian Army whilst the remainder balance going to Pakistan after the independence act was enacted by the United Kingdom on the night of 14/15 August 1947.:2–3[5]

Command and control at all levels of the new army was extremely difficult, as Pakistan had received six armoured, eight artillery and eight infantry regiments compared to the twelve armoured, forty artillery and twenty-one infantry regiments that went to India.:155–156[26] In total, the size of the new army was about ~150,000 men strong.:155–156[26] To fill the vacancy in the command positions of the new army, around 13,500:2[5] military officers from the British Army had to be employed in the Pakistan Army, which was quiet in larger number, under the command of Lieutenant-General Frank Messervy, the first commander-in-chief of the Pakistan Army.:70[27]

Eminent fears of India's seizing the control over the state of Kashmir, the armed tribes and the irregular militia scouts entered in the Muslim-majority valley of Kashmir to oppose the rule of Hari Singh, a Hindu and the ruling Maharaja of Kashmir, in October 1947.:conts.[28] Attempting to maintain his control over the princely state, Hari Singh deployed his troops to check on the tribal advances but his troops failed to halt the advancing tribes towards the valley.:40[29] Eventually, Hari Singh appealed to Louis Mountbatten, the Governor-General of India, requesting for the deployment of the Indian Armed Forces but Indian government maintained that the troops could be committed if Hari Singh's acceded to the Indian Union.:40[29] Hari Singh eventually agreed to concede into admission to the Indian Union on India government terms which eventually led to the deployment of the Indian Army in Kashmir– this agreement, however, was contested by Pakistan since the agreement did not include the consent of the Kashmiri people.:40[29] Sporadic fighting between militia and Indian Army broke out, and units of the Pakistan Army under Maj-Gen. Akbar Khan, eventually joined the militia in their fight against the Indian Army.:40[29]

Although, it was Lieutenant-General Sir Frank Messervy who opposed the tribal invasion in a cabinet meeting with Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan in 1947, later leaving the command of the army in 1947:447[30], in a view of that British officers in the Indian and Pakistan Army would be fighting with each other in the war front.:417[31] It was Lt-Gen. Douglas Gracey who reportedly disobeyed the direct orders from Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the Governor-General of Pakistan, for the deployment of the army units and ultimately issued standing orders that refrained the units of Pakistan Army to further participate in the conflict.:59[32]

By 1948, when it became imperative in Pakistan that India was about to mount a large scale operation against Pakistan, Gen. Gracey did not object the deployment of the army units in the conflict against the Indian Army.:59[32]

This earlier insubordination of Gen. Gracey eventually forced India and Pakistan to reach a compromise through the United Nation's intervention with Pakistan controlling the Western Kashmir and India occupying the Eastern Kashmir.:417[31]

20th Century: Cold war and conflict performancesEdit

Reorganization under the United States Army (1952–58)Edit

Maj-Gen. Ayub Khan arriving to take over command of the Pakistan Army at the Army GHQ in Rawalpindi, Punjab in Pakistan on 17 January 1951.:34

At the time of the partition of British India, British Field Marshal Sir Claude Auchinleck diveser favored the transfer of the infantry divisions to the Pakistan Army including the 7th, 8th and 9th.:55[33] In 1948, the British army officers in the Pakistan Army established and raised the 10th, 12th, and the 14th infantry divisions— with the 14th being established in East Bengal.:55[34] In 1950, the 15th Infantry Division was raised with the help from the United States Army, followed by the establishment of the 15th Lancers in Sialkot.:36[35] Dependence on the United States grew furthermore by the Pakistan Army despite it had worrisome concerns to the country's politicians.:36[35] Between 1950–54, Pakistan Army raised six more armoured regiments under the U.S. Army's guidance: including, 4th Cavalry, 12th Cavalry, 15th Lancers, and 20th Lancers.:36[35]

After the Gracey's disobedience incident, there was a strong believe that a native commander of the army should be appointed and the Government of Pakistan had rejected the British Army Board's appointment upon the retirement of Gen. Gracey in 1951.:34[36] Eventually, Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan approved the promotion paper of Maj-Gen. Iftikhar Khan as the first native commander-in-chief, a graduate of the Imperial Defence College in England, but died in an aviation accident en route to Pakistan from the United Kingdom. [37]

After the death of Maj-Gen. Iftikhar, there were four senior major-generals in the army in the race of promotion but the most junior, Maj-Gen. Ayub Khan, whose name was not included in the promotion list was elevated to the promotion that resulted in a lobbying provided by Iskandar Mirza, the Defense Secretary in Ali Khan administration.[38] A tradition of appointment based on favoritism and qualification that is still in practice by the civilian Prime Ministers in Pakistan.[38]

The department of army under Lt-Gen. Ayub Khan steered the army's needs towards heavy focused and dependence towards the imported hardware acquired from the United States, in spite of acquiring it from the domestic industry, under the Military Assistance Advisory Group attached to Pakistan in 1954–56.:36[35] In 1953, the 6th Infantry Division was raised and disbanded the 6th Division in 1956 followed by the disbandment of the 9th Infantry Division as the American assistance was available only for one armored and six infantry divisions.:36[35] During this time, an army combat brigade team was readily made available by Lt-Gen. Ayub Khan to deploy to support the American Army's fighting troops in the Korean war.:270[39]

Working as cabinet minister in Bogra administration, Lt-Gen. Ayub's impartiality was greatly questioned by country's politicians and drove Pakistan's defence policy towards the dependence on the United States when the country becoming the party of the CENTO and the SEATO, the U.S. active measures against the expansion of the global communism.:60[40][41]

In 1956, the 1st Armored Division in Multan was established, followed by the Special Forces in Cherat under the supervision of the U.S Army's Special Forces.:55[42]:133[43] Under Lt-Gen. Ayub's control, the army had eradicated the British influence but invited the American expansion and had reorganized the East Bengal Regiment in East Bengal, the Frontier Force Regiment in Northern Pakistan, Kashmir Regiment in Kashmir, and Frontier Corps in the Western Pakistan.[5] The order of precedence change from Navy–Army–Air Force to Army–Navy-Air Force, with army being the most senior service branch in the structure of the Pakistani military.:98[40]

In 1957, the I Corps was established and headquarter was located in Punjab.:55[44] Between 1956–58, the schools of infantry and tactics[45], artillery,[46]ordnance[47], armoured[48], medical, engineering, services, aviation[49], and several other schools and training centers were established with or without U.S. participation.:60[40]

Military takeovers in Pakistan and second war with India (1958–1969)Edit

The protest march in East Pakistan in 1954. The martial law was imposed through the army in East by Prime Minister Mohammad Ali Bogra to control the law and order situation.:75[50]

As early as 1953, the Pakistan Army became involved in the national politics in a view of restoring the law and order situation when Governor-General Malik Ghulam, with approval from Prime Minister Khawaja Nazimuddin, dismissed the popularly-mandated state government of Chief Minister Mumtaz Daultana in Punjab in Pakistan, and declared martial law under Lt-Gen. Azam Khan and Col. Rahimuddin Khan who successfully quelled the religious agitation in Lahore.:17–18[51]:158 In 1954, the Pakistan Army's Military Intelligence Corps reportedly sent the intelligence report indicating the rise of communism in East Pakistan during the legislative election held in East-Bengal.:75[50] Within two months of the elections, Prime Minister Mohammad Ali Bogra, with approval from Governor-General Malik Ghulam, dismissed the another popularly-mandated state government of Chief Minister Fazlul Huq in East Bengal in Pakistan, and declared governor's rule under Iskandar Mirza who relied in the Pakistan Army to manage the control and security of the East Bengal at all levels of command.:75[50] With Lt-Gen. Ayub Khan becoming the Defense Minister under Ministry of Talents led by Prime Minister Bogra, the involvement of the army in the national politics grew further with the implementation of the controversial One Unit program, abolishing the status of Four Provinces, despite the strong protests by the public and the West Pakistan's politicians.:80[50] Major defense funding and spending was solely focused towards Ayub's army department and the air force department led by Air Marshal Asghar Khan, giving less priority to the national needs for the Navy.[52]

The Pakistan Army's troops hoisting the Pakistan Flag in Rajasthan in India in 1965.

From 1954–58, Lt-Gen. Ayub was made subjected with receiving multiple service extensions by the civilian Prime Ministers first receiving in 1954 that extended his commission to last till 1958.:contents[53]:232[54]

The Pakistan Army under Lt-Gen. Ayub had been less supportive towards the implementation of the first set of Constitution of Pakistan that had established the civilian control of the military, and the army went onto completely endorsed and support the first martial law in the country imposed by President Iskander Mirza– the army later took control of the power from President Mirza in mere two weeks and installed Lt-Gen. Ayub as the second President.:81[50] The subsequent change of command resulted in Gen. Musa Khan becoming the army commander with Ayub Khan promoting himself as controversial rank of field marshal.:22[55] In 1969, the Supreme Court reversed its decision and overturned its convictions that called for validation of martial law in 1958.:60[56]

The army held the referendum and tightly control the political situation through the intelligence agencies, and banned the political activities in the country.[57]

The public society in Pakistan rallying in support of the Pakistan Army in 1965.

From 1961–62, military aid continued to Pakistan from the United States and they established the 25th Cavalry, followed by the 24th Cavalry, 22nd, and 23rd Cavalry.:36[35] In 1960–61, the Army Special Forces was reportedly involved in taking over the control of the administration of Dir from the Nawab of Dir in Chitral in North-West Frontier Province over the concerns of Afghan meddling in the region.[58] In 1964–65, the border fighting and tensions flared with the Indian Army with a serious incident taking place near the Rann of Kutch, followed by the failed covert action to take control of the Indian-side of Kashmir resulted in a massive retaliation by the Indian Army on 5 August 1965.[59] On the night of 6 September 1965, India opened the front against Pakistan when the Indian Army's mechanized corps charged forwards taking over the control of the Pakistan-side of Punjab, almost reaching Lahore.:294[60] At the time of the conflict in 1965, Pakistan's armory and mechanized units' hardware was imported from the United States including the M4 Sherman, M24 Chaffee, M36 Jackson, and the M47 and M48 Patton tankss, equipped with 90 mm guns.[61] In contrast, the Indian Army's armor had outdated in technology with Korean war-usage American M4 Sherman and World War II manufactured British Centurion Tank, fitted with the French-made CN-75 guns.[62]

In spite of Pakistan enjoying the numerical advantage in tanks and artillery, as well as better equipment overall,:69[63][64] the Indian Army successfully penetrated the defences of Pakistan's borderline and successfully conquered around 360 square kilometres (139 square miles)[60]–500 square kilometres (193 square miles)[65] of Pakistan-side Punjab territory on the outskirts of Lahore.[66] Major tank battle took place in Chawinda, which the newly established 1st Armoured Division was able to halt the Indian invasion.:35[67] Eventually, the Indian invasion of Pakistan came to halt when the Indian Army concluded the battle near Burki.[66][68][page needed][69][70] With diplomatic efforts and involvement by the Soviet Union to bring two nation to end the war, the Ayub administration had reached a compromise with Shastri ministry in India when both governments signed and ratified the peace treaty in the Soviet Union.[69][70] According to the Library of Congress Country Studies conducted by the Federal Research Division of the United States:

The war was militarily inconclusive; each side held prisoners and some territory belonging to the other. Losses were relatively heavy—on the Pakistani side, twenty aircraft, 200 tanks, and 3,800 troops. Pakistan's army had been able to withstand Indian pressure, but a continuation of the fighting would only have led to further losses and ultimate defeat for Pakistan. Most Pakistanis, schooled in the belief of their own martial prowess, refused to accept the possibility of their country's military defeat by "Hindu India" and were, instead, quick to blame their failure to attain their military aims on what they considered to be the ineptitude of Ayub Khan and his government.[71]

At the time of ceasefire declared, per neutral sources, Indian casualties stood at 3,000 whilst the Pakistani casualties were 3800.[72][73][74] Pakistan lost between 200-300 tanks during the conflict and India lost approximately 150-190 tanks.[75][76]

However, most neutral assessments agree that India had the upper hand over Pakistan when ceasefire was declared,[77][78][79][80][81] but the propaganda in Pakistan about the war continued in favor of Pakistan Army.[82] The war was not rationally analysed in Pakistan with most of the blame being heaped on the leadership and little importance given to intelligence failures that persisted until the debacle of the third war with India in 1971.[83] There was no military action taken by the Pakistan Army in East Pakistan against the standing Indian Army, and at the end of the Indian army was in possession of 758.9 miles² (1,920 km²) of Pakistani territory and the Pakistan army held 210 mile² (550 km²) of Indian territory.[84] The Indian Army's action was restricted to Punjab region of both sides with Indian Army mainly in fertile Sialkot, Lahore and Kashmir sectors,[85][86] while Pakistani land gains were primarily in southern deserts opposite Sindh and in the Chumb sector near Kashmir in the north.[85]

With the United States' arm embargo on Pakistan over the issue of the war, Pakistan Army's reliance turned over the Soviet Union and China for hardware acquisition, and correctly assessed that lack of infantry played a major role in the failure of Pakistani armour to translate its convincing material and technical superiority into a major operational or strategic success against the Indian Army.[87] Ultimately, the army's high command established the 9th, 16th, and 17th infantry divisions in 1966–68.[87] In 1966, the IV Corps was formed and its headquarter was established, and permanently stationed in Lahore, Punjab in Pakistan.[88]

The army remained involved in the nation's civic affairs, and ultimately imposed the second martial law in 1969 when the writ of the constitution was abrogated by then-army commander, Gen. Yahya Khan, who took control of the nation's civic affairs after the resignation of President Ayub Khan, resulted in a massive labor strikes instigated by the Pakistan Peoples Party in West and Awami League in East.[89]

In a lawsuit settled by the Supreme Court of Pakistan, the legality of the martial law was deemed questionable as the Supreme Court settled the suit by retroactively invalidated the martial law that suspended the Constitution and notably ruled that Yahya Khan's assumption of power was "illegal usurpation".:59-60[56] In light of the Supreme Court's judgement, the army held the publicly televised conference when President Yahya Khan announced to hold the nationwide general elections in 1969–70.:59-60[56]

Suppression, civil conflict in East Pakistan and Indian invasion (1969–1971)Edit

Lt-Gen. Niazi, Cdr. of Eastern Command in Pakistan and Governor of East Pakistan, signing the documented instrument with Lt Gen. JS Aurora, GOC-in-C of Eastern Command in India, in presence of Indian army personnel in Dacca, unilaterally ending the conflict with India on 16 December 1971.:596[90]

In 1969, President Yahya Khan decided to make administrative changes in the army by appointing the Gen. Abdul Hamid Khan as the Army Chief of Staff (ACOS) of the Pakistan Army, who centralized the chain of command in Rawalpindi in a headquarters known as "High Command".:32[91] From 1967–69, there were series of major military exercises were conducted by the army's infantry units in East's borderline with India.:114-119[92] In 1970, the Pakistan army's military mission in Jordan was reportedly involved in tackling and curbing down the Palestinian infiltration in Jordan.[93] In June of 1971, the enlistment in the army had allowed the Army GHQ in Rawalpindi to raise and established the 18th infantry division, stationed in Hyderabad, Sindh, for the defence of 560 miles (900 km) from Rahimyar Khan to Rann of Kutch, and reestationed the 23rd infantry division for defending the Chhamb-Dewa Sector.[87]

In 1971, the II Corps was established and headquartered in Multan, driven towards defending the mass incursion from the Indian Army.[88] In December 1971, the 33rd infantry division was established from the army reserves of the II Corps, followed by raising the 37th Infantry Division.[87] The Pakistan Army reportedly helped the Pakistan Navy to toward establishing the amphibious branch, the Pakistan Marines, whose battalion was airlifted to East alongside with the 9th Infantry Division.[94][87] The other battalions of marines were stationed with the army troops in the skirts of Punjab to support the defence in the events of the war with India.[94]

The intervention in civic matters in East-Pakistani government further grew when the major operation resulted overtaking of the government buildings, communication centers, and restricting the politicians opposing the military rule:263[95], and within one month, Pakistani national security strategists realized their failure of implementing the plan which did not include the civil resistance in East, and the real nature of Indian strategy behind their support of the resistance.:2-3[96]

The Yahya administration is widely held responsible and accused of permitting the army of committing the war crimes against the civilians in East and curbing civil liberties and human rights in Pakistan. The Eastern Command under Lt-Gen. A. A. K. Niazi, who had area responsibility of the defending the Eastern Front and had the responsibility to protect, was leveled with accusations of escalating the political violence in the East by the serving military officers, politicians, and journalists in Pakistan.[97][98] Since the general elections in 1970, the army had detained several key politicians, journalists, peace activists, student unionists, and other members of civil society while curbing the freedoms of movement and speech in Pakistan.:112[99] In East, the unified Eastern Military Command under Lt-Gen. A.A.K. Niazi, began its engagement with the armed militia that had the direct terror support from India on April 1971, and eventually fought the war with Indian Army on December 1971.:596[90]:596 The army, together with marines, launched ground offensives on both fronts but the Indian Army successfully held its ground and initiated well-coordinated ground operations on both fronts, initially capturing 5,795 square miles (15,010 km2):239[43] of Pakistan's territory; this land gained by India in Azad Kashmir, Punjab and Sindh sectors.:239[43]

Responding to the ultimatum issued on 16 December 1971 by the Indian Army in East, Lt-Gen. Niazi agreed towards conceding the defeat and moved towards signing the documented surrender with the Indian Army to effectively and unilaterally ending the armed resistance that led the creation of Bangla Desh, only after India's official engagement that lasted 13-days.[100] It was reported that the Eastern Command had reportedly surrendered ~93,000–97,000 uniform personnel to Indian Army– the largest surrender in a war by any country after the World War II.[101] Casualties inflicted to army's I Corps, II Corps, and Marines did not sit well with President Yahya Khan who turned over the control of the civic government to Zulfikar Ali Bhutto through an executive decree.[102]

Commenting on the defeat, the military observer in the Pakistan Army, Major A.H. Amin, reported that the war strategists in the army had not seriously considered a full fledged invasion from India until the December of 1971, because it was presumed that the Indian military would not risk intervention by China or the United States, and the high command failed to realize that that the Chinese would be unable to intervene during the winter months of November to December, due to snowbound Himalayan passes, and the Americans had not made any real effort to persuade India against attacking East Pakistan.[103]

Restructuring of armed forces, stability and restoration (1971–1977)Edit

The army officers in the 9th Battalion of the Frontier Force Regiment on 23 March 1974.
In 1970s, the Corps of Engineers built many secretive weapon-testing laboratories and sites in the graphite mountain ranges of Pakistan.:144-145[104] The footage provided as an example by the CEIP.

In January of 1972, the Bhutto administration formed the POW Commission to investigate the numbers of war prisoners held by the Indian Army while requesting the Supreme Court of Pakistan to investigate the causes of the war failure with India in 1971.:7-10[105] The Supreme Court formed the famed War Enquiry Commission (WEC) that identified many failures, fractures, and faults within the institution of the department of the army and submitted recommendations to strengthened the armed forces overall.[5] Under the Yahya administration, the army was highly demoralized and there were unconfirmed reports of mutiny by soldiers against the senior army generals at the Corps garrisons and the Army GHQ in Rawalpindi.:5[105]

Upon returning from the quick visit in the United States in 1971, President Bhutto forcefully dishonorably discharge the commission of seven senior army generals, which he called the "army waderas" (lit. Warlords).:71[106] In 1972, the army leadership under Lt-Gen. Gul Hassan refrained from acting under Bhutto administration's order to tackle the labor strikes in Karachi and to detained the labor union leaders in Karachi, instead advising the federal government to use the Police Department to take the actions.:7[105]

On 2 March 1972, President Bhutto dismissed the commission of Lt-Gen. Gul Hassan as the army commander, replacing with Lt-Gen. Tikka Khan who was later promoted to four-star rank and appointed as the first Chief of Army Staff.:8[105] The army under Bhutto administration was reconstructed in its structure, improving its fighting ability, and reorganized with the establishment of the X Corps in Punjab in 1974, followed by the V Corps in Sindh and XI Corps in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa in Pakistan in 1975.[107] The trilateral agreement in India, the Bhutto administration transferred all the war prisoners back to the country but the military struggle to fill in the vacancies and employments due to some suffering from the PTSD and other mental health complications, while others simply did not wanted to serve in the military any longer.:19-20[105] Under Bhutto administration, the army engage in self-reliance production and eventually reached to China for establishing the material and metal industries to overcome the material shortage and manufacturing of weapons industry in the country.[108]

In 1973, Bhutto administration dismissed the state government in Balochistan that resulting in another separatist movement, culminating the series of army actions in largest province of the country that ended in 1977.:319[109] With the military aid receiving from Iran including the transfer of the Bell AH-1 Cobra to Aviation Corps:319[109], the conflict came to end with Pakistani government offered the general amnesties to separatists in 1980s.:151[110]:319:319[109] Over the issue of Baloch conflict, the Pakistani military remained engage in Omani civil war in favor of Omani government until the rebels were defeated in 1979.[111] The War Enquiry Commission noted the lack of joint grand strategy between the four-branches of the military during the first, the second, and the third wars with India, recommending the establishment of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee to maintain strategic military communication between the inter-services and the federal government, that is to be chaired by the appointed Chairman joint chiefs as the government's principle military adviser.:145[112] In 1976, the first Chairman joint chiefs was appointed from the army with Gen. Muhammad Shariff taking over the chairmanship, but resigned an year later.:145[112] In 1975, Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto controversially superseded at least seven senior army generals to promote Lt-Gen. Zia-ul-Haq to the four-star rank, appointing him the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) in spite of army recommendations forwarded to the federal government.:24[105]

In 1970s, the army's engineering formations, notable the Corps of Engineers, played a crucial role in supporting the clandestine atomic bomb program to reach its parity and feasibility, including the constructions of iron-steel tunnels in the secretive nuclear weapons-testing sites in 1977–78.:144-145[104]

PAF and Navy fighter pilots voluntarily served in Arab nations' militaries against Israel in the Yom Kippur War (1973). In the 1973 war one of the PAF pilots, Flt. Lt. Sattar Alvi flying a MiG-21 shot down an Israeli Air Force Mirage and was honoured by the Syrian government.[113][114][115]

Middle East operations, peacekeeping missions, and covert actions (1977–1999)Edit

Transferred from Iranian Ground Force in 1973–75, the Pakistan Army acquired additional the AH-1S Cobra attack helicopters from the United States under the Foreign Military Sales to improve the Pakistan's defences in 1980s.:45-46[105]

The political instability increased in the country when the conservative alliance refused to accept the voting turnout in favor of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) after the general elections held in 1977.:25-26[105] The army, under Gen. Zia-ul-Haq–the army chief, began planning the military takeover of the federal government under Prime Minister Zulfikar Bhutto, eventually leading the coup d'état that suspended the writ of the Constitution amid responding to the call from one of the opposition leader of threatening to call for another civil war.:27[105] The military interference in civic matters grew further when the martial law was extended for an infinite period despite maintaining that the elections to be held in 90-days prior.:30-31[105] At the request from the Saudi monarchy, the Zia administration deployed the company of the special forces to end seizure of the Grand Mosque in Mecca from Islamists.:265–280[116]

The army under President Zia weakened due to the army officers were needed in running the affairs of civic government and the controversial military courts that held trials of the communists, dissidents, and the oppositions of Zia's administration.:31-32[105] In 1984–85, Pakistan lost the control of her northern glaciers due to the successful expedition and penetration by the Indian Army, and army had to engage in years long difficult battles with Indian Army to regain their areas from the Indian Army.:45[105] Concerns over the military officers and army personnel needed to counter the further advances by the Indian Army in Northern fronts in 1984, the martial law was lifted following the referendum that approved Zia's presidency and provided a way of holding the general elections in 1985.:45[105] The military control the under army administration had successfully stabilized the law and order in Balochistan despite the massive illegal immigration from Afghanistan, and issued the general amnesties to separatists and rebels.[117] To address the Afghan containment and security, the army established the XII Corps in 1985 that is permanently headquartered in Quetta, that is designed to provide defence against the infiltration by the Afghan National Army from Afghanistan.[118]

The Pakistan Army's troops, as part of their deployment in Somalia, patrolling off their mission in the Mogadishu in Somalia in 1993.[119]

In 1985, the United States approved the military aid package, worth $4.02 billion, to Pakistan when the mujaheddin fighting with the Soviet Union in Afghanistan increased and intensified, with Soviet Army began violating and attacking the insurgents in the tribal areas in Pakistan.:45-46[105] In 1986, the tensions with India increased when the Indian Army's standing troops mobilized in combat position in Pakistan's southern frontier with India failing to give notification of exercise to Pakistan prior.:46[105] In 1987–88, the XXX Corps, headquartered in North of Punjab, and the XXXI Corps, headquartered in South of Punjab, was raised and established to provide defence against the Indian army's mass infiltration.[88]

After the aviation accident that resulted in passing of President Zia in 1988, the army organized the massive military exercise with the Pakistan Air Force to evaluate the technological assessment of the weapon systems and operational readiness.:57[105][120] In 1980s, Pakistan Army remained engage in the affairs of Middle East, first being deployed in Saudi Arabia during the Iran-Iraq War in 1980–88, and later overseeing operational support measures and combat actions during the Gulf War in 1990–91.[5]

The period from 1991–98 saw the army engaged in professionalism and proved its fighting skills in the Somalian theater (1991–94), Bosnian-Serb War (on Bosnian side from 1994–98[121] ), and the other theaters of the Yugoslavian wars, as part of the United Nation's deployment.:69-73[122][123] In 1998, the army's Corps of Engineers played a crucial role in providing the military administration of preparing the atomic weapon-testing in Balochistan when the air force's bombers flown and airlifted the atomic devices.[124] The controversial relief of Gen. Jehangir Karamat by the Sharif administration reportedly disturbed the balance of the civil-military relations with the junior most Lt-Gen. Pervez Musharraf replacing it as chairman joint chiefs and the army chief in 1999.[125]

In May of 1999, the army's northern light infantry, the paramilitary unit at that time, slipped into Kargil that resulted in heavy border fighting with the Indian Army, inflicted with heavy casualties on both sides.[126] The ill-devised plan without meaningful consideration of the outcomes of the border war with India, the army under Chairman joint chiefs Gen. Pervez Musharraf (also army chief at that time) failed to its combat performance and suffered with similar outcomes as the previous plan in 1965, with the American military observers in the Pakistan military famously commenting to news channels in Pakistan: Kargil was yet another example of Pakistan's (lack of) grand strategy, repeating the follies of the previous wars with India.":200[127][128][129]

After its commendable performance, the President of Pakistan commissioned the Northern Light Infantry as a regular regiment in the army and its personnel eventually becoming officers and enlisted personnel in the army in 1999.[130]

21st Century: War performancesEdit

Homegrown religious insurgency and War on terror (2001–Present)Edit

The Pakistan Army's paratroopers watching the Swat Valley from its highest point after the intense battle with Taliban fighters in 2009.

In October of 1999, the army engaged in another military takeover of the federal government from the Sharif administration when the Army GHQ refused to accept the relief of commission of Gen. Pervez Musharraf over his failure in succeeding the control of Kargil sector from India.:142[131] This controversial takeover of the federal government was subjected to a lengthy and an expensive lawsuit fought between the lawyers of the department of army and the former Sharif administration at the Supreme Court, with the landmark verdict rendered in 2009 ultimately sided and favored the Sharif administration's arguments as the Justices of the Supreme Court accepted the fact that the army's takeover was in fact a direct violation of the constitution and breach of its given constitutional mandate.:119–120:112–115[132][133]

The Pakistan Army's mountain brigade soldiers conducting the tactical training exercise in 2016.

Responding to the terror attacks in New York in the United States, the army joined the combat actions in Afghanistan with the United States and simultaneously engage in military standoff with Indian Army in 2001–02. In 2004–06, the military observers from the army were deployed to guide the Sri Lankan army to end the civil war with the Tamil fighters.[134]

To overcome the governance crises in 2004–07, the Musharraf administration appointed several army officers in the civilian institutions with some receiving extensions while others were deployed from their combat service– thus affecting the fighting capabilities and weakening the army.:37[135] Under Gen. Musharraf's leadership, the army's capabilities fighting the fanatic Talibans and Afghan Arab fighters in Pakistan further weakened and suffered serious setbacks in gaining control of the tribal belt that fell under the control of the Afghan Arabs and Uzbek fighters.:37[135] From 2006–09, the army fought the series of bloody battles with the fanatic Afghan Arabs and other foreign fighters including the army action in a Red Mosque in Islamabad to control the religious fanaticism.:37[135] With the controversial assassination of Baloch politician in 2006, the army had to engage in battles with the Baloch separatists fighting for the Balochistan's autonomy.:37[135]

In April of 2007, the major reorganization of the commands of the army was taken place under Gen. Ahsan S. Hyatt, the vice army chief under Gen. Musharraf, establishing the Southern, Central, and the Northern Commands to "improve the operational efficiency and working of its land forces."[136][137][138] With Gen. Musharraf's resignation and Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani becoming the army chief, the army realigned itself to review its combat policies and withdrew officers in civilian institutions to focus on its primary constitutional mission to protect and responsible in 2009–14.:37[135][139] In 2012, there was a serious accident involving the entire battalion from the Northern Light Infantry when the avalanche struck the battalion base in Siachen, entrapping 135 soldiers and including several army officers.[140]

In 2013–16, the homegrown far-right guerrilla war with the Taliban, Afghan Arabs, and the Central Asian fighters took the decisive turn in favor of the army under Sharif administration, eventually gaining the control of the entire country and established the writ of the constitution in the affected lawless regions.[141] As of its current deployment as of 2019, the army remained engage in border fighting with the Indian Army while deploying its combat strike brigade teams in Saudi Arabia in a response of Saudi intervention in Yemen.[142]

UN peacekeeping missionsEdit

The Training Pakistan Army and Russian Ground Forces soldiers from the landing of the Mil Mi-8 helicopter at the tactical exercise "Friendship-2016".

In the wake of the new world power equilibrium, a more complex security environment has emerged. It is characterized by growing national power politics

  • UN Operation in Congo (ONUC) 1960–1964
  • UN Security Force in New Guinea, West Irian (UNSF) 1962–1963
  • UN Yemen Observer Mission Yemen (UNYOM) 1963–1964
  • UN Transition Assistance Group in Namibia (UNTAG) 1989–1990
  • UN Iraq–Kuwait Observer Mission (UNIKOM) 1991–2003
  • UN Mission in Haiti (UNMIH) 1993–1996
  • UN Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) 1992–1993
  • UN Operations in Somalia (UNOSOM) 1992–1995
  • UN Protection Forces in Bosnia (UNPROFOR) 1992–1995
  • UN Observer Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR) 1993–1996
  • UN Verification Mission in Angola (UNAVEM III) 1995–1997
  • UN Transitional Administration for Eastern Slavonia (UNTAES) 1996–1997
  • UN Mission of Observers in Prevlaka (UNMOP) 1996–2002
  • UN Assistance Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) 2001–2005
  • UN Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) 1999-to-date
  • UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) 1999-to-date

The table below shows the current deployment of Pakistani forces in UN Peacekeeping missions.

Start of operation Name of Operation Location Conflict Contribution
1999 United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO)   Democratic Republic of Congo Second Congo War 3,556 Troops.[143]
2003 United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL)   Liberia Second Liberian Civil War 2,741 Troops.[143]
2004 United Nations Operation in Burundi ONUB   Burundi Burundi Civil War 1,185 Troops.[143]
2004 United Nations Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI)   Côte d'Ivoire Civil war in Côte d'Ivoire 1,145 Troops.[143]
2005 United Nations Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS)   Sudan Second Sudanese Civil War 1,542 Troops.[143]
Staff/Observers 191 Observers.[143]
  • The total number of Pakistani troops serving in peacekeeping missions is 7,533, as of August 2015, which is one of the biggest number among rest of participants.[144]


Command and control structureEdit

Pakistan Army
Chief of Army Staff
Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee
Organisation and Components
Structure of the Pakistan Army
Frontier Corps
Frontier Works Organisation
Special Service Group
Army Cantonment Board
Pakistan Armoured Corps
General Headquarters
Pakistan Military Academy
Command and Staff College
National Defence University
Army Ranks of Pakistan
Serving generals
History and Traditions
Military history of Pakistan
UN Peacekeeping Missions
Pakistan Army FC
Awards, Decorations and Badges
Awards and Decorations

Leadership in the army is provided by the Minister of Defense, usually leading and controlling the direction of the department of the army from the Army Secretariat-I at the Ministry of Defense, with the Defense Secretary who is responsible for the bureaucratic affairs of the army's department.[145] The Constitution allows the President of Pakistan, an elected civilian official, to act as the civilian Commander-in-Chief while the Prime Minister, an elected civilian, to act as the Chief Executive.[146] The Chief of Army Staff, an appointed four-star rank army general, is the highest general officer who acts as the principal military adviser on land/ground warfare affairs, and a senior member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee– a military body that advises and briefs the elected civilian Prime Minister and its executive cabinet on national security affairs and operational military matters under the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee.[3]

The single combat headquarter, the Army GHQ, is located in Rawalpindi Cantonment in Punjab in Pakistan, in the vicinity of the Joint Staff Headquarters.[3] The Chief of Army Staff controls and commands the army at all levels of operational command, and is assisted the number of Principal Staff Officers (PSOs) who are commissioned at the three-star rank generals.[3]

The military administration under the army chief operating at the Army GHQ including the appointed Principle Staff Officers:

In 2008, a major introduction was made in the military bureaucracy at the Army GHQ under Gene. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, when two new PSO positions were introduced: the Inspector-General of Arms and the Inspector-General Communications and IT.[147]


Commissioned officersEdit

The commissioned army ranks and insignia authorized in the Pakistan Army are modified and patterned on the British Army's officer ranks and insignia system.[148] There are several paths of becoming the commissioned officer in the army including the admission and required graduation from the Pakistan Military Academy in Kakul, Cadet Colleges or the Officer Candidate Schools (OCS i.e. Sui or Jhelum).:134[149] To become an officer in the army, the academic four-year college degree is required for the candidates to become officers in the army, and therefore they are designated by insignia unique to their staff community.:134[149]

Selection to the officer candidates is highly competitive with ~320–700 individuals are allowed to entered in the Pakistan Military Academy annually, with a small number of already graduated physicians, specialists, veterinaries and the engineers from the civilian universities are directly recruited in the administrative staff corps such as Medical Corps, Veterinary Corps, Engineering Corps, Dental Corps— and these graduated individuals are the heart of the administrative corps.:293[150]The product of a highly competitive selection process, members of the staff corps have completed twelve years of education in their respected fields (such as attending the schools and universities), and has to spend two years at the Pakistan Military Academy, with their time divided about equally between military training and academic work to bring them up to a baccalaureate education level, which includes English-language skills.:293[150]

Estimations by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) the Pakistan Army has an active-duty of 560,000 personnel as of 2018.[108]

Pay grade O-10 O-9 O-8 O-7 O-6 O-5 O-4 O-3 O-2 O-1 O-1
Title Field Marshal General Lieutenant-General Major-General Brigadier Colonel Lieutenant-Colonel Major Captain Lieutenant Second Lieutenant
Abbreviation FM Gen. Lt-Gen. Maj-Gen. Brig. Col. Lt-Col. Maj. Capt. Lt. 2nd-Lt.
NATO Code OF-10 OF-9 OF-8 OF-7 OF-6 OF-5 OF-4 OF-3 OF-2 OF-1 OF-1
Rank Hierarchy  

Warrant officersEdit

The Pakistan Army uniquely uses the junior commissioned officer (JCO) ranks, equivalent of the Warrant officers or the Limited duty officers in the United States military, inherited from the former British Indian Army introduced by the British Army in India between the enlisted and officer ranks.:134[149] The JCOs are single-track specialists with their subject of expertise in their particular part of the job and initially appointed (NS1) after risen from their enlisted ranks, receiving the promotion (SM3) from the commanding officer.:134[149]

The usage of the junior commissioned officer is the continuation of the former Viceroy's commissioned officer rank, and the JCO ranking system benefited the army since there was a large gap existed between the officers and the enlisted personnel at the time of the establishment of the new army in 1947.:134[149] Over the several years, the JCOs rank system has outlived its usefulness because of the educational level of the enlisted personnel has risen and army has more comfortably adopted the U.S. Army's ranking platform than the British.[41]:134[149] Promotion to the JCOs/WO ranks remains a powerful and influential incentive for those enlisted personnel desire not to attend the accredit four-year college.:134[149]

Junior Commissioned Officer/Warrant Officer Ranks
Title Subedar-Major
(infantry and other arms)
Risaldar Major
(cavalry and armor)
(infantry and other arms)
(cavalry and armor)
Naib Subedar
(infantry and other arms)
Naib Risaldar
(cavalry and armor)
U.S. Code

Enlisted personnelEdit

The recruiting and enlistment in the army is nationwide but the army's recruiting command maintains an ethnic balance, with those who turned away are encourage to join the either the Marines or the Air Force.:292[150] Most enlisted personnel had come from the poor and rural families with many had only rudimentary literacy skills in the past, but with the increase in the affordable education have risen to the matriculation level (12th Grade)..:292[150] In the past, the army recruits had to re-educate the illiterate personnel while processing them gradually through a paternalistically run regimental training center, teaching the official language, Urdu, if necessary, and given a period of elementary education before their military training actually starts.:292[150]

In the thirty-six-week training period, they develop an attachment to the regiment they will remain with through much of their careers and begin to develop a sense of being a Pakistani rather than primarily a member of a tribe or a village.:292[150] Enlisted personnel usually serve for eighteen to twenty years, before retiring or gaining commission, during which they participate in regular military training cycles and have the opportunity to take academic courses to help them advance.:292[150]

The noncommissioned officers (or enlists) wear respective regimental color chevrons on the right sleeve.:292[150] Center point of the uppermost chevron must remain 10 cm from the point of the shoulder.:292[150] The Company/battalion appointments wear the appointments badges on the right wrist.:292[150]

Structure of Enlisted Ranks of the Pakistan Army
Pay grade E-9 E-8 E-7 E-6 E-5 E-4 E-3 E-2 E-1
Insignia               No insignia No insignia
Title Battalion Havildar Major Battalion Quartermaster Havildar Company Havildar Major Company Quartermaster Havildar Havildar Naik Lance Naik Sepoy No Equivalent

Recruitment and trainingEdit

The pass out (graduation) of recruits from the Pakistan Military Academy in Kakul in 2007. The education and boot camp training last for two years before cadets becomes soldiers.[151]

Prior to August of 1947, the British Army's recruiting administration had recruited the enlists from the Jhelum, Rawalpindi, and Campbellpur that dominated the recruitment flows.[5] From 1947–71, the Pakistan Army was predominantly favored to recruit from Punjab and was popular in the country as the "Punjabi Army" because of heavy recruiting interests coming from the rural and poor families of villages in Punjab as well as being the most populous province of Pakistan.:149[152][153]

After 1971, the Bhutto administration introduced the Quota system and drastically reduced the officers and enlists from Punjab and gave strong preference to residents in Sindh, Balochistan, and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, and such policy continue to exists to maintain an ethnic balance in the army.:163[154] Those who are turned away are strongly encourage to join Marines or Air Force.

In 1991, the department of army drastically reduced the size of personnel from Punjab, downsizing the army personnel to 63%, and issues acceptable medical waivers interested enlists while encourage citizens of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh.[155] This decision has given a fair chance to every citizen of Pakistan to be part of the Pakistan Army as each district possesses a fixed percentage of seats in all branches of the Army, as per census records.[155] By 2003–05, the department of army continued its policy by drastically downsizing the personnel from Punjab to 43–70%.[155][156]

The army has only one bootcamp that is located in Kakul at the Pakistan Military Academy where the basic training takes place, and such training is usually last for two years until the cadets are to meet their graduation requirements from the Academy.[151]

It is one of the longest boot camp and the boot camp training continues for two years until the cadet is being able pass out from the academy, before selecting the college to start their career of their choice in the military.[151]

Women and non-MuslimsEdit

Women have served in the Pakistan Army since its foundation. Currently, there is a sizeable number of women serving in the Pakistan Army. Most women are recruited in the Army to perform medical and educational work. There is also a Women's Guard section of Pakistan's National Guard where women are trained in nursing, welfare and clerical work and there are also women recruited in very limited numbers for the Janbaz Force. Only recently has Pakistan began to recruit women for Elite Anti-Terrorist Police Force in 2007, several female graduates were nominated to be Sky Marshals for Pakistan-based airlines.[157] In addition recently eight of the 41 cadets from the Pakistan Military Academy at Kakul became the first women guards of honour.[158] Pakistan is the only country in the Islamic world to have female Major Generals in the Army.[159] Major General Shahida Malik, an Army doctor was Pakistan's first female two-star general.[160]

Between 1947 and 2000, Pakistani Hindus were barred from joining the army. This was changed in 2000 and since then, Pakistani Hindus were admitted for the first time. Today, people of all faiths or no faith may join and serve. Non-Muslims are allowed to sit in all examinations and can serve in any part of the Pakistan Army. They can also be promoted to any rank.[161]

There have been numerous Christians who have risen to the rank of brigadier. In April 1993 the first Christian promoted to the rank of major general was Julian Peter, who commanded the 40th Strike Division in Okara Cantt. In 2009 Brigadier Noel Israel Khokhar was also promoted to the rank of major general. Major General Noel Israel Kokhar commanded the 23rd Division in Jehlum Cantt.

Maj. Hercharn Singh, is the first Sikh to be a commissioned officer in the army. He was commissioned in the Baloch Regiment.

Components and structureEdit

Army components and branchesEdit

Since its organization that commenced in 1947, the army's functionality is broadly maintained in two main branches: Combat Arms and Administrative Services.:46[40]:570[162]:127[149] From 1947–71, the Pakistan Army had responsibility of maintaining the British-built Forts, till the new and modern garrisons were built in post 1971, and performs the non-combat duties such as engineering and construction.[5]

Currently, the Army's combat services are kept in active-duty personnel and reservists that operates as members of either Reserves and Army National Guard.[3] In addition, the workforce of the army is supported by the Frontier Corps (a paramilitary) and Army Rangers that performs military police duty within the state governments in Pakistan to help control and manage the law and control situation.[3]

The two main branches of the army, Combat Arms and Administrative Services, are also consists of into several branches and functional areas that includes the army officers, junior commissioned (or warrant officers), and the enlisted personnel who are classified from their branches in their uniforms and berets.[3] In Pakistan Army, the careers are not restricted to military officials but are extended to civilian personnel and contractors who can progress in administrative branches of the army.[163]

Pakistan Army branches and functional areas
Combat Arms Insignia Administrative Serivces Insignia
Armored Corps (AR)   Services (ASC)  
Air Defense Corps (AD)   Military Police (MP)  
Aviation Corps (AVN)   Electrical and Mechanical Engineering (EME)  
Regiment of Artillery (Art)   Medical Corps (AMC)  
Signals Corps (Sigs)   Education Corps (EC)  
Corps of Engineers (EN)   Judge Advocate General Corps (JAG)  
Regiments of Infantry (Inf)          Ordnance Corps (AOC)  
Special Forces (SSG)   Remount Veterinary and Farms (RVF)  
Military Intelligence Corps (MI)  
Chaplain Corps (ChC)  
Dental Corps (DC)  
Public Relations (PR)  


The Command and control structure of the six tactical operational commands in the Pakistan Army. Click to enlarge

The reorganization of the position standing army in 2008, the Pakistan Army now operates six tactical commands, each commanded by the GOC-in-C, with a holding three-star rank: Lieutenant-General.[107] The each of the six tactical commands directly reports to the office of Chief of Army Staff, operating directly at the Army GHQ.[107] Each command is consists of two or more Corps– an army field formation responsible for zone within a command theater.[3]

There are nine active Corps in the Pakistan Army, composing of mixed infantry, mechanized, armored, artillery divisions, while the Air Defence, Aviation, and the Aviation and Special Forces are organized and maintained in separate level of their commands.[3]

Established and organized in March of 2000, the Army Strategic Forces Command is exercise its authority for responsible training in safety, weapons deployments, and activation of the atomic missile systems.[164][165][166][167][168]

The peacetime commands and the Corps allocated to each command are given below.

Combat maneuvering organizationsEdit

The map of Five Rivers. The strategic reserves of Pakistan including the desert and forest.[171]

In an events involving the large and massive foreign invasion by the Indian Army charging towards the Pakistan-side Punjab sector, the Pakistan Army maintains the Pakistan Army Reserves as a strategic reserve component for conducting the offense and defense measures against the advancing enemy.[171] There are two strategic reserve component of the army, alongside with the Army National Guard, that is the first component is attached with the I Corps and the second being attached to the II Corps.[171]

In Army Reserve, the Army Reserve North (ARN) is attached with the I Corps that is designed for conducting an offense towards the charging enemy's conventional forces on the eastern front or the forestry terrain.[171] The ARN consists of an additional infantry division, heavy anti-tank battery, an aviation squadron, and the part-time reserve personnel to support the logistics of the ARN, giving the ARN the capability of launching the attacks on charging and advancing enemy from eastern front.[171]

The ARN is deployed to maneuver its combat assets towards the North of the Sutlej River to either mount or launch offensive operations inside Indian territory or duly assisted to Strike Command or to blunt an Indian offensive across the Indo-Pakistani frontier.[171]

The second army reserve component, the Army Reserve South (ARS), is attached with the II Corps on the southern skirts of the Sutlej River and designed to provide logistics and combat role in the desert terrain of Sindh.[171]

Due to the void of an infantry division in Army Reserve South, the reserve component is suited for a riposte or conducting a counteroffensive (defensive measures) operations and maneuvering towards defense.[171]

Infantry branchEdit

The Honor Guards from the Guides Cavalry Regiment, in traditional Red Coat, welcoming the U.S. President George W. Bush at the Presidency in Islamabad in 2006.

Since its establishment in 1947, the Pakistan Army has traditionally followed the British regimental system and culture, and currently there are six organized infantry regiments.[172] In the infantry branch, there are originally six regiments are in fact the administrative military organization that are not combat field formation, and the size of the regiments are vary as their rotation and deployments including assisting the [Federal government of Pakistan|federal government]] in civic administration.[173]

In each of original six regiments, there are multiple battalions that are associated together to form an infantry regiment and such battalions do not fight together as one formation as they are all deployed over various formations in shape of being part of the brigade combat team (under a Brigadier), division, or a being part of much larger corps.[174]

After the independence from the Great Britain in 1947, the Pakistan Army begin to follow the U.S. Army's standing formation of their Infantry Branch, having the infantry battalion serving for a time period under a different command zone before being deployed to another command zone, usually in another sector or terrain when its tenure is over.[174]

The Infantry Regiments by seniority Insignia Activation Date Regimental Center Motto War Cry
Punjab Regiment
Mardan, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Urdu: نارا-یا-حیدری یا علی
(English lit. Ali the Great)
Baloch Regiment
Abbottabad, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa
غازی یا شہید
(English lit. Honored or Martyr)
کی کی بلوچ
(English lit. Of the Baloch)
Frontier Force Regiment
Abbottabad, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa
(English lit. Lucky)
Azad Kashmir Regiment
Mansar, Punjab
Sind Regiment
Hyderabad, Sindh
Northern Light Infantry Regiment
Gilgit, Gilgit Baltistan
سبط قدم
(English lit. Consistent)
Other type of Regiments Insignia Activation Date Regimental Center Motto War Cry
Regiment of Artillery
Rawalpindi, Punjab
Mujahid Force Regiment
Bhimber, Azad Kashmir
Regiment of Air Defense
Rawalpindi, Punjab

Sources: Infantry Branch of Pakistan Army. For a description of the modern army, see: global context.

Special operations forcesEdit

The logo of the Army SSG where the Special Forces and Army Rangers are trained together.

The Pakistan Army has a military division dedicated towards conducting the unconventional and asymmetric warfare operations, established with the guidance provided by the United States Army in 1956.[175] This competitive special operation force is known as the Special Services Group (Army SSG, distinguishing the Navy SSG), and is assembled in eight battalions, commanded by the Lieutenant-Colonel, with addition of three companies commanded by the Major or a Captain, depending on the availability.[176]

The special operation forces training school is located in Cherat in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa in Pakistan where the training and education on the philosophy of military arts and tactics takes place by the army instructors.[176]

Each battalion in the Pakistan Army Special Forces is specifically trained for a specific type of operation, and each battalion is a specialist in their nature of conducting the operation.[176] Due to their distinctive service headgear, the Army SSG is colloquially known as the Maroon Berets.[176]

Besides the Army SSG and the Special Forces (SF), the Pakistan Army has trained a specific Rangers team that is especially trained in counter tactics, and is trained for carrying out the difficult counter-terrorism operation involving the civilian hostages in Karachi, and helping the state governments in Sindh and Punjab maintaining the law and order situation intact.[177]

Implementing the counterterrorism tactics in 2004, the Army has been training the specific Army Ranger company, known as the Rangers Anti-terrorist Force (ATF), alongside with the Army SSG company, often conduct training with the U.S. Army Ranger in terror and infantry tactics.[177]

Military philosophyEdit

Combat doctrine (1947–2007)Edit

The U.S.-Pakistan military relations: The group photo of the United States Army and the Pakistan Army after coordinating the joint operation in 2010.

In 1947, the Pakistan Army's war strategists developed a combat doctrine which was called "The Riposte", which featured a strategy of "offensive-defense".:310[178][179] In 1989, the first and official implementation of this strategy was refined and featured in the major military exercise, Exercise Zab-e-Momin, organized under Lt-Gen. Hamid Gul[180]– this combat doctrine was fully focused in engaging towards its primary adversary, Indian Army.:310[178]

In 1989–99, the JS HQ, working with the Army GHQ to identify several key factors considering the large conventional attacks from the better equipped and numerically advantage adversary, the Indian Army, derived the combat doctrine to assess the vulnerability of Pakistan where its vast majority of population centers as well as political and military targets lies closer to the international border with India.[181]

The Pakistan Army's special forces soldiers in a drill conducting jointly with the Russian special forces in 2016.

The national security strategists explored the controversial idea of strategic depth in form of fomenting friendly foreign relations with Afghanistan and Iran while India substantially enhancing its offensive capabilities designed in its doctrine, the Cold Start Doctrine.[181] Due to the numerical advantage of Indian Army over its small adversary, the Pakistan Army, the Pakistani national security analysts noted that any counterattack on advancing Indian Army would be very tricky and miscalculated– the ideal response of countering the attacks from the Indian ground forces would be operationalizing the battle-ranged Hatf-IA/Hatf-IB missiles.[181] The Pakistan Army Reserves, supported by the Army National Guard, and India's Territorial Army would eventually forward towards the defensive positions and fortifications in less than 24 hours.[182] However, the Corps in both nation's commands with large stockpiles of ordnance will take between 24-72 hours for logistically mobilized its combat assets after the orders are authorized; therefore, both nation's armies will be evenly matched in the first 24 hours since the Pakistani units have to travel a shorter distance to their forward positions.[182]

The war doctrine of "offensive-defense" entailed Pakistan of not waiting to be attacked but instead launching an offense of its own, with an offense being a limited advance along with narrow fronts aiming towards occupying enemy territory near the border to a depth of 40–50 km.[182] Pakistani national security calculated that since Indian forces will not reach their maximum strength near the border for another 48–72 hours, Pakistan might have parity or numerical superiority against the India.[182] Earlier studies in "Offensive-defense" doctrine validated results of finding and keeping the enemy forces off-balance as the Indian Army engage in containing the Pakistan Army forces into its territory rather than concentrating towards launching an attack onto Pakistan's territory.[182] The strategic calculations by Pakistan Army's war strategists hoped that the Pakistan Army's soldiers would keep the Indian Army soldiers engage in fighting on the Indian territory, therefore the collateral damage being suffered by the Indian Army at most.[182] An important aspect in "offensive-defense" doctrine was to seize sizable Indian territory which gives Pakistan an issue to negotiate with India in the aftermath of a ceasefire brought about by international pressure after 3–4 weeks of fighting.[182]

Due to fortification of LoC in Kashmir and difficult terrains in Northern Punjab, the Army created the Pakistan Army Reserves in 1990s that is concentrated in desert terrain of Sindh-Rajasthan sector, The Army Reserve South of the Pakistan Army Reserves is grouped in several powerful field-level corps and designed to provide a defensive maneuvers in case of war with the Indian Army.[182]

The limitation and constraint of the "offensive-defense" doctrine was eventually exposed by the Indian Army's performance in the Kargil war in 1999, as Indian Army decided to take an action with full offense that forced Pakistan Army to go into full defense. Without the synergy between the Air Force, Navy and Marines, the doctrine became redundant, and the Pakistan Army had to rely on international pressure on India to desist from an assault as it exactly happened, according to the Indian author, RSN Singh in 2011.[182]

Threat Matrix (2010–Present)Edit

After the failure of the "Offensive-defense" in 1999, the national security institutions engaged in critical thinking to evaluate new doctrine that would provide a comprehensive grand strategy against the infiltrating enemy forces, and development began 2010–11 for the new combat doctrine.[183] In 2013, the new combat doctrine, the Threat Matrix, was unveiled by the ISPR, that first time, in its history, the army's national security analysts realized that Pakistan faces the real threat from within, a threat that is concentrated in areas along western borders.[183] The Threat Matrix doctrine analyze the military's comprehensive operational priorities and goes beyond in comprehensively describing both existential and non-existential threats to the country.[183]

Based on that strategy in 2013, the Pakistani military organized a massive four-tier joint-military exercise, code named: Exercise Azm-e-Nau, in which the aim was to update the military's "readiness strategy for dealing with the complex security threat environment" was evaluate simultaneously by the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines.[184] In successive years, the Pakistani military combined all the Army-Navy-Air Force-Marines military exercises into joint warfare exercise, in which, all four branches participating in the military exercise regardless of the terrain, platform, and the control of command of the military exercise.[184]

The objective of the exercise was to assess military tactics, procedures and techniques in the event of an emerging threat environment, and explore joint operations strategies in response to combating the threat with all four branches of the military: the Army, Air Force, Marines, and Navy.[184]

Political and corporate activitiesEdit

Since the independence of Pakistan from the United Kingdom in 1947, the Pakistani military has played a crucial and an integral role in national politics since its inception mainly on the pretext in absence of visionary civilian leadership, bureaucratic corruption, and inefficiency in formulating regional and geostrategic policies concerning the national security.[185] The Institution of the Pakistan Army has virtually acted state-within-a-state, engaging in extraconstitutional activities of imposing martial law and suspending the writ of the Constitution of Pakistan in the name of stabilizing Pakistan by ending political instability or by calling to end the financial corruption.[186]

However, Pakistani historians and observers, noted that the political instabilities, lawlessness, corruptions, violence, and area insurgencies are the direct consequences of the military rule in Pakistan.[187][188] The separation of East-Pakistan from the Federation of Pakistan is directly blamed and held the responsibility on the institution of the Pakistan Army as a direct consequence of long control of the country by the army under the military-sponsored presidential administrations of Ayub Khan (1958–69) and Yahya Khan (1969–71).[189][190]

Despite insubordination and committed treason of suspending the writ of the Constitution of Pakistan, none of the four army chiefs and their collaborators have received indisciplinary actions neither tried for their committed treason or their honors were withdrawn at the court of law despite calls by the democratic movements as their cases were subjected to massive cover-ups by the investigative institutions and federal prosecuting agencies.[191][192] Due to the conflict of interests in economic and foreign issues, the department of army has directly involved in political funding of the conservative parties against the parties running the federal administration, that further weakened the state of Pakistan.[193] At first, the Pakistan Army's political support and financial endowment was extended to conservative Nawaz Sharif against Benazir Bhutto in 1990s, and later to ultraconservative Imran Khan against Nawaz Sharif in 2010s, controlling the outcomes of the elections through political engineering.[193][186]

According to the international news agencies and investigation reports by international financial regulatory institutions, the department of army controls, manage, and runs the large number of business enterprises and conglomerates, that is estimated at US$ 20 billion in 2007–08.[194] The largest real estate conglomerate that is run by the army is known as the Defense Housing Authority (DHA), Army Welfare Trust, and out 46 housing schemes directly built by the armed forces, none is for ordinary soldiers or civilian officers and personnel employed by the army.[195] The Fauji Foundation (lit. Military Foundation) has shares in the Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) and involves in manufacturing and selling the process meat, stud, and dairy farms meant for the military's own use while there are enterprises perform functions in local civilian economy such as bakeries, security services and the Askari Bank.[194] The army factories managed by the Fauji Foundation produces such goods such as sugar, Fauji Fertilizer, brass castings, and sells its products to civilian consumers albeit at prices higher than those charged from military personnel.[155] The Pakistani military has a largest shares in Pakistan Stock Exchange and has financial stakes in commercial banking, airlines, steel businesses, cement, telecoms, petroleum and energy, education, sports, health care and even chains of grocery shops and bakeries.[196]

Involvement in Pakistani societyEdit

The Pakistan Army soldiers distributing the relief goods and military rations to the affectees of the national calamities. The Army often involves in the civil society to relief activities and national-building to the local population of affected areas.

The Pakistan Army has played an integral part in the civil society of Pakistan, almost since its inception.[197] In 1996, General Jehangir Karamat described Pakistan armed forces' relations with the society:

In my opinion, if we have to repeat of past events then we must understand that Military leaders can pressure only up to a point. Beyond that their own position starts getting undermined because the military is after all is a mirror image of the civil society from which it is drawn.

— General Jehangir Karamat on civil society–military relations, [197]

In times of natural disaster, such as the great floods of 1992 or the devastating October 2005 earthquake, army engineers, medical and logistics personnel, and the armed forces played a major role in bringing relief and supplies.

The Pakistan Army has been involved in relief activities not only in Pakistan but also in many other countries of the world, such as the relief activities after Bangladesh was hit by floods. The Army also dispatched relief to Indonesia, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka after they were hit by the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and the resulting tsunami.

Education and trainingEdit

Schooling, teachings, and institutionsEdit

The Army has twelve other training and educational establishments, including schools concentrating on specific skills such as infantry, artillery, intelligence, engineering, or mountain warfare. The National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST) has been established which has absorbed the existing colleges of engineering, signals, electrical engineering and medicine. At the apex of the army training system is the Command and Staff College at Quetta, one of the few institutions inherited from the colonial period. The college offers a ten-month course in tactics, staff duties, administration, and command functions through the division level. Students from foreign countries, including the United States, have attended the school but reportedly have been critical of its narrow focus and failure to encourage speculative thinking or to give adequate attention to less glamorous subjects, such as logistics.[citation needed]

The senior training institution for all service branches is the National Defence University, Islamabad. Originally established in 1971 at Rawalpindi, to provide training in higher military strategy for senior officers, the institution was relocated to Islamabad in 1995. According to Aqil Shah, the NDU is significant for understanding the institutional norms of military tutelage in Pakistan because it constitutes the “highest forum where the military leadership comes together for common instruction.” Without graduating from the NDU (or a foreign equivalent), no officer can become a general. Besides, the NDU training program represents a radical shift from the emphasis on operational and staff functions in the training of junior officers (for example, majors at the Staff College) to educating colonels and brigadiers about a broad range of strategic political, social, and economic factors as they affect national security. In that sense, it constitutes the senior officer corps's baptism into a shared ideological framework about the military's appropriate role, status, and behavior in relation to state and society. These shared values affect how these officers perceive and respond to civilian governmental decisions, policies, and political crises.[198] It also offers courses that allow civilians to explore the broader aspects of national security. In a program begun in the 1980s to upgrade the intellectual standards of the officer corps and increase awareness of the wider world, a small group of officers, has been detailed to academic training, achieving master's degrees and even doctorates at universities in Pakistan and abroad.

Pakistani officers were sent abroad during the 1950s and into the 1960s for training in Britain and other Commonwealth countries, and the United States, where trainees numbering well in the hundreds attended a full range of institutions ranging from armoured and infantry schools to the higher staff and command institutions. After 1961 this training was coordinated under the International Military Education and Training (IMET) program, but numbers varied along with the vicissitudes of the United States-Pakistan military relationship. Of some 200 officers being sent abroad annually in the 1980s, over two-thirds went to the United States, but the cessation of United States aid in 1990 entailed suspension of the IMET program. In 1994 virtually all foreign training was in Commonwealth countries. However, after the 9/11 attacks, Pakistan again begun sending officers to US Army schools. Today there are more than 400 officers serving in foreign countries. Officers retire between the ages of fifty-two and sixty, depending on their rank.

Science and technologyEdit

Apart from conducting military operations, exercises, and military ethics, the Pakistan Army maintains its own science and technology corps and organizations. Most notable science and engineering corps including Military Engineering Service (MES) Corps of Engineers, Corps of Electrical and Mechanical Engineering (EME), and Frontier Works Organisation. Its Army Strategic Forces Command served as the primary military organization in the matters of conducting and directing research on nuclear and space (such as military satellites). The cadets and officers of the Pakistan Army who wished to study science and technology are given admission at the College of Electrical and Mechanical Engineering (CEME) and the Military College of Engineering where the scientific and military education are taught. The admissions of engineering colleges are not restricted to civilians as they can also gain admission and graduate with engineering and science degrees.

Recipients of Nishan-e-HaiderEdit

Nishan-e-Haider; Pakistan's highest military award.

The Nishan-e-Haider (Urdu: نشان حیدر) (Sign of the Lion) is the highest military award given by Pakistan, ranking above the Hilal-i-Jur'at (Crescent of Courage). Nishan-e-Haider recipients receive an honorary title as a sign of respect: Shaheed meaning martyr for deceased recipients. As of 19 September 2013, all Nishan-e-Haider awards have thus far been given to the people engaged in battles with India.

Similar to the American Medal of Honor or the British Victoria Cross, it has only been awarded to 10 Pakistan Army personnel since 1947:

Recipients of foreign awardsEdit

Two Pakistani pilots belonging to the army aviation branch of Pakistan Army who carried out a daring rescue of a mountaineer were given Slovenia's top award for bravery. Slovenian, Tomaz Humar got stranded on the western end of the 8,125m Nanga Parbat mountain where he remained for around a week on top of the world's ninth-highest peak. The helicopter pilots plucked the 38-year-old from an icy ledge 6,000m up the peak known as "killer mountain".

The Slovenian President presented Lt Col Rashid Ullah Beg and Lt Col Khalid Amir Rana with the Golden Order for Services in the country's capital, Ljubljana, for risking their lives during the rescue mission, a Pakistan Army statement said.[199]

Pakistan Army team was awarded a gold medal at the Cambrian Patrol Exercise held in Wales in October 2010.[200][201][202]


The army's equipment includes small arms, armour, artillery including self-propelled and MLRS systems, aircraft and air defence systems. Much equipment is of Chinese, European or American origin, while some is either produced or developed by domestic suppliers(Pakistan Ordinance Factories).


Pakistan Army uniforms closely resemble those of the British Armed Forces. The principal colour is greenish brown. Dress uniforms were worn mostly on formal occasions. The service uniform was worn for daily duty. The service uniform for the ground forces was Golden Brown (sand/tan) cotton. Officers purchased their uniforms, but enlisted personnel received a standard uniform issue, which consisted of service and field uniforms, fatigues, and in some cases, dress uniforms. The uniforms consisted of shirt, trousers, sweater, jacket or blouse, and boots. There is also a white dress uniform. The fatigues were the same for winter and summer. Heavy winter gear was issued where needed. A service cap for dress and semi-dress and a field cap worn with fatigues. Army personnel also wear berets, usually worn in lieu of service caps.

Brown and black and more recently former BDU style camouflage fatigues are worn by army troop units. The uniform of a Pakistan army soldier exhibits much information that is :

Pakistan Army has introduced arid camouflage pattern in uniform and resized qualification badges which are now service ribbons and no longer worn along with the ranks are now embroidered and are on chest. The name is badged on the right pocket and the left pocket displays achievement badges by Pak Army. Flag of Pakistan is placed over the black embroidered formation sign on the left arm and class course insignias are put up as per ADR for the Goldish uniform,[203] decorations & awards[204] and the ranks.[205]


The Pakistan Army has a noteworthy sports program with elite athletes in many sports disciplines.[206][non-primary source needed] An example of the program's success is its basketball program which regularly provides the Pakistan national basketball team with key players.[207]

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Further readingEdit

  • Cloughley, Brian. A History of the Pakistan Army: Wars and Insurrections (4th ed. 2014).
  • International Institute for Strategic Studies (3 February 2010). Hackett, James, ed. The Military Balance 2010. London: Routledge. ISBN 1-85743-557-5.
  • Ayub, Muhammad (2005). An army, Its Role and Rule: A History of the Pakistan Army from Independence to Kargil, 1947–1999. RoseDog Books. ISBN 9780805995947.
  • Major Nasir Uddin (2005). Juddhey Juddhey Swadhinata. Agami Prokashoni. ISBN 984-401-455-7. (A Bengali-language book about the history of Pakistan Army)

External linksEdit