Control over economy: Military owned Pakistan’s largest business conglomerations
The Pakistan Army runs Pakistan’s largest business conglomeration with more than 50 business entities worth over US$20 billion; owned through Army Welfare Trust, Bahria Foundation, Fauji Foundation, and Shaheen Foundation. Ranging
from petrol pumps to huge industrial plants, banks, bakeries, schools and universities, hosiery factories, milk dairies, stud farms, and cement plants, the military has a finger in each pie and stands today as the biggest conglomerate of all business in Pakistan.
However, the jewels in their crown are the eight housing societies in eight major towns where prime lands in well-manicured cantonments and plush civil localities in the possession of these societies are allotted to military personnel at highly subsidised
rates. Even military awards are linked with the grant of farmlands and housing plots to military personnel. Pakistan military’s lust for land is so prolific that their Generals conduct themselves in the manner of feudal landlords and carry the tags of
‘biggest land grabbers and land mafias’ of the country.
The “Culture of Entitlement” in the military started during General Ayub’s time when he commenced
the tradition of awarding land to army officers (the size of allotment depending upon the rank of the officer) in the border regions of Punjab and in the newly irrigated colonies of Sindh. General Zia also created a novel way of involving serving officers
in commercial ventures by placing military lands and cantonments and the provisioning of logistics to the regional corps commanders. Thus, many senior army officers availed opportunities to acquire multiple plots in various cantonments for themselves at highly
subsidised rates. These prime properties soon sparked nepotism in allotment and corruption among both the military and civil bureaucracies.
Several senior service officers have also
been parked as ambassadors, governors, and nominated on other high-ranking bureaucratic posts in Pakistan. Successive army chiefs have continued with the practice of strengthening the special perks and privileges of their serving and retired personnel with
respective civilian governments reluctantly acquiescing to all the fair and unfair demands of the armed forces.
A major reason for this state of affairs is the independent, unaccountable
financial muscle of the military. Since the Ayub era, no civilian government has ever bothered to tame in the military except, to some extent, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto for a short period. Most civilian governments have looked the other way at the financial handlings
of the military’s commercial enterprises, primarily to buy peace with the powerful generals. Most members of Pakistan’s civil society and even its parliamentarians have wilfully ignored the military’s economic empire-building.
The Pakistani Military derives its relevance & sustainability from only one element – Anti-India sentiment or the 2 Nation theory. With India’s assertive stand on Kashmir on August
5, 2019, it exposed Pakistani Military’s trump card which gives it importance & supremacy in their country. Of course, the Puppet government propagated the same anti-India sentiments that the military wanted it to. What India has done, to put it
simply, is to shift the discussion on Kashmir as a whole to just ‘Pakistan Occupied Kashmir’. And, the Pakistani military understands it’s ‘now or never’ to raise this issue. If the Pakistanis miss the bus on Kashmir this time,
they would have lost the narrative on Kashmir forever. They understand this and hence the flurry of events in Pakistan to make this into an international issue. If we were to imagine a hypothetical India-Pakistan scenario where the Kashmir issue is resolved,
done & dusted. In this scenario, the focus of Pakistanis would be more on development rather than the army & the military would lose its current relevance in Pakistan. That is why Kashmir for the Pakistani Army is more about maintaining their own power
& control than about the Kashmiri people.
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government was
not competent to steer the country to the right direction, which was the reason that the country is in shambles now. While Imran Khan might be Pakistan’s prime minister, it is the Pakistani military that continues to exert influence over foreign and
security policies. It goes on to note that Khan came to the office of PM without any governance experience, with analysts suspecting that the country’s military covertly manipulated domestic politics in the run-up to elections last year with an aim to
unseat Nawaz Sharif and weaken his party.
The Establishment in Pakistan, which has ruled Pakistan through direct military dictatorship as well as through control over the powerless civilian
governments, is a rogue state responsible for its strategic policy of state sponsorship of terrorism by Pakistan and several former and serving Prime Ministers as well as the top army general have admitted to this fact.
The current government, which is relying on crutches, wouldn’t have been formed if the results of the elections weren’t tampered with by the deep state officials of the Establishment who wanted their own
gains. This is how you strangle the democracy to death by crushing the constitution underfoot and betraying millions of votes in the Parliament at once!
24 Sep 20/Thursday
Source: Saima Ibrahim