The Role of the Military in Pakistan  

Definition of the Problem

The United States-Pakistan Relations

The Role of the Military in Pakistan

Poverty In Pakistan 

Political Parties and Ethnic Groups

 Map of Pakistan

 History of the Taliban
Policy Alternatives

Costs and Benefits

 Policy Recommendation



            Military rule in Pakistan started in 1977 witZia ul-Haqh General Zia ul-Haq took power in a bloodless coup and ruled under martial law. In 1985, Zia declared elections which put in place a parliament and a civilian Prime Minister, Muhammad Khan Junejo, who was later dismissed by Zia ul-Haq. Zia was killed in a mysterious plane crash in 1988. After Zia ul-Haq was killed, Benazir Bhutto was elected prime minister and became the effective head of government in December 2, 1988. In August 1990, President of Pakistan, Ghulam Ishaq Khan, removed Benazir Bhutto from power under allegations of corruption. In 1999, General Pervez Musharraf took power after overthrowing Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif (Gregory).  

The military’s major goal is to expand its power and protect its business organizations. Changes to the constitution and the political system in Pakistan and interference in the electoral process have noticeably increased. For examples, when Musharraf took power in 1999, he established the National Accountability Bureau (Pakistan’s apex anti-corruption organization), which is usually run by former military personnel, to ban opposition leaders from participation in parliamentary elections under allegations of corruption. To maintain power over security policy and ensure a strong budget for the military, Musharraf created the National Security Council that comprises the chiefs of all military services and is in charge of making decisions about defense and national security policies to increase and institutionalize the military’s role in policymaking in Pakistan (Gregory).

As the chart below illustrates, defense expenditures account for a large share of the Pakistan’s annual budget and GDP. In 2004, defense expenditures took about thirty percent of the budget and five percent of GDP. Despite the fact that the United States has provided Pakistan with $4.93 billion to cover expenses of the fight against the Taliban, the share of defense expenditure in the budget and GDP has hardly decreased (Gregory). 

Also, in an unconstitutional move, Musharraf held a referendum in April 2002 which allowed him to remain in power for five more years. The military has made changes to the legislation for qualifications of memberships to the parliament and provincial assemblies, which state that all candidates should have college education and exclude those who are convicted for a crime (Gregory).
          Several military officers have been placed in government positions. The number of military officers placed in government positions is difficult to determine because military officers who occupy government positions lose their military form. A large number of higher education institutes around the country are chaired by military officers, who have made several revisions to the educational curriculum. Thirty four out of seventy four civilian institutions are run by military personnel, and eight hundred retired army officers have been placed in positions in education. Musharraf and his regime revised the national curriculum to give a positive image about the history of the military and about Musharraf. According to the revised National Curriculum for Pakistan Studies of 2006, the learning objectives of “History of Pakistan II” are “to discuss Pakistan’s emergence as a nuclear power, to comprehend the causes of the military takeover of October 12, 1999, to discuss the 2002 elections and restoration of democracy and to narrate Pakistan’s relations with immediate neighboring states” (Gregory).
            Freedom of the press has been suppressed through coercion and promulgation of laws, such as the Defamation Law of 2002. General Syed Iqbal Haider and other military officers have warned that criticism of the armed forces is unacceptable. The Pakistani government has put a ban on the Federal Government Advertising, which used to provide financial aid for newspapers. Also, Musharraf’s suspension of Chief Justice Iftikar Chaudry and Pakistani constitution provides evidence of the Military intervention in the legislative system (Gregory). 
            The ranking of Pakistan's press freedom has declined since Pervez Musharraf took over power in 1999. The table below shows the ranking of  Pakistan’s press freedom worldwide during the period between 2002 and 2006 (Gregory).

                                                                                               Pakistan’s press freedom ranking, 2002
                                                                  Source: Contemporary South Asia.

Gregory, Shaun. “The Role of the Military in the Cohesion and Stability of Pakistan.” Contemporary South Asia 6.1 (2007): 39-61

Hathaway, Robert.Leverage and Largesse: Pakistan's Post-9/11 Partnership with America.” Contemporary South Asia 16.1 (2007): 11-24.