The military establishment is considered the most dominant force in Pakistan. This is not only because of its size, but because of its decisive role in foreign policy, security issues and the management of internal problems. He acquired the role of not only defender of borders but also of Pakistani ideology. Because of this predominance, it is the military aspect of security that has dominated strategic thinking, to the detriment of the non-military aspects. Many of the strategic difficulties facing Pakistan are related to this.
Ethnicity is a factor to consider. Even before partition and independence, it was the Punjabis who formed a significant part of the British Indian Army. The trend has continued since then and Punjab now constitutes 53% of the army. Although there has recently been a decline of Punjabis, they still remain the largest province in terms of recruitment. The officers, in particular, are mostly Punjabi.
The legacy of the partition most shaped the worldview of the military and its development. To the west, there is Afghanistan which did not recognize Pakistan and claimed Pashtun territory. This neighbor justified his claims on the grounds that when the British left, all agreements between Afghanistan and the British were null and void. And on the eastern border is India – against whom there are accusations of deception and unfair distribution of resources.
Most of the land that makes up Pakistan today was near India. It is this vulnerability that has compelled Pakistan to seek strategic depth in Afghanistan. Some say this has now been accomplished, with the Taliban ruling the roost in Kabul.
Another partition legacy was Kashmir. It was a Muslim-majority state, so Pakistan expected it to be integrated into this country – basing its claim on the very grounds on which India as a whole was divided. There was a standstill agreement between Pakistan and Kashmir but it did not last as tribal raiders were sent to seize Kashmir. The tribal forces were defeated and the Maharaja of Kashmir announced his accession to India. After accession, India sent forces to it, defeated the tribal forces and occupied about two-thirds of the territory of Kashmir.
In its effort to counterbalance India, which critics have sometimes called an obsession, Pakistan has sought the support of everyone from Western powers to China, and especially Islamic countries. Although these counties helped Pakistan build a strong army, it also came at a cost. With the military so powerful, there has been a relative weakening of other important state institutions.
The Islamization of the Zia regime has further reinforced religious orthodoxy and extremism – and this has affected the military like the rest of society.
Since then, the social class of the officer corps has changed considerably. The proportion of the lower middle class has increased considerably. Much of the recruitment comes from South Punjab.
It is also a region with powerful religious militant organizations – which do not operate in isolation from the rest of society, including recruits to the security apparatus. Commentators have expressed concerns about the effects of increased Islamization in the security forces, given the general trajectory of radicalization in the country.
These are aspects of Pakistan’s security problems that no administration can afford to take lightly.