Military Inc.: Inside Pakistan’s Military Economy

I’ve been waiting for this book for the last five years… the author has written bits and pieces of the contents in “various”:http://www.newsline.com.pk/NewsDec2006/cover3dec2006.htm “articles”:http://www.newsline.com.pk/NewsDec2006/cover1dec2006.htm over the years, but finally the entire book is done. There was a bit of “drama at the book launch”:http://www.dawn.com/2007/06/01/top4.htm, which put it on the front page of Dawn.

Now, generally I write about a book after reading it, but this book has been *banned in Pakistan!* Someone high up to must have read in today’s paper about the book launch,and ordered it removed from the shelves today in the morning. “Liberty Books”:http://www.libertybooks.com/, the only major bookstore chain in Pakistan pulled the books from the shelves without selling a copy, while OUP, the publishers in Pakistan sold a few copies in the morning before closing sales. The author’s friends and well wishers must have been congratulating her all day long, as the sales of the book around the world are going to shoot up drastically along with the credibility of the book.

It was a interesting time for the book to come out, as while on one hand the Chief Justice’s illegal dismissal is putting a spotlight on the many constitutional transgressions by the military, while the book exposes the economic plundering of the country by the military. A second front, so to speak, and no army wants to fight on two fronts at the same time.


The book estimates the military’s share of the economy at over 200 billion rupees, besides owning 11.58 million acres – a staggering amount! These figures, large as they are, don’t even begin to tell the real impact of the army on the country’s economy. What has happened in Pakistan is that any sector which could be monopolized, has been attempted by the military, and since the military has many non-business advantages over civilian competition, they keep continuing at their extremely inefficient nonbusiness like pace. This has led many industry sectors in which the army has been active to remain stuck back in the early 20th century style of business, grossly inefficient, with a literal retired army of people running the show, who after having retired from one job already aren’t looking to be putting in the hours or the effort which a real business requires.

That is the real point of the book – that many of the so called business’s run by the army aren’t – they are just welfare centers for retired army personnel, funded in part by government bailouts, partly by various illegal barriers to entry to prevent completion, and of course the time honored tradition of influencing govt. contracts. Sure, they churn out products, but only because of the many crutches propping them up.

Simple economics means that the military effort in so many private sectors has severely stunted the growth of not only just those sectors but all the associated industries alongside. So while the 200 billion rupee figure is large, it could have been a trillion rupees if left alone by the army and the government. The opportunity cost of the army’s adventure in making money is horrendously large, and one of the reasons this country remains so backwards.

For example, back in the “2005 budget”:http://ko.offroadpakistan.com/pakistan/2005_06/economic_survey_of_pakistan_2005.html, the official handouts were *Rs 94.57 billion, or 16% of all taxes!* This is a staggering figure. The major -beneficiaries- blood sucking leeches on the back of the Pakistani taxpayer are FFC Jordon, TCP, PIA, Pakistan Steel, Railways, Wapda, KESC, Saindak, Utility Stores and others. Besides PIA, all these names are owned directly by the military, or if not owned by them, at least run by them. Even PIA comes directly under the Ministry of Defence, which PIA has to go after to get all major things approved, and like everything else run by a Ministry, it has gone to the dogs. Besides the unofficial handouts, there is a whole army of underhanded favours being handed out also.

The blurb from the back of the book:

bq.. Pakistan is a strategic ally of the US in the “war on terror”. It is the third largest receiver of US aid in the world. Yet Pakistan is a state run by its army.

Siddiqa shows how the power of the military has transformed Pakistani society, where the armed forces have become an independent class. The military is entrenched in the corporate sector. So Pakistan’s companies and its main assets are in the hands of a tiny minority of senior army officials. Siddiqa examines this military economy and the consequences of merging the military and corporate sectors. Does democracy have a future? Will the generals ever withdraw to the barracks? Military Inc. analyzes the internal and external dynamics of this gradual power-building and the impact that it is having on Pakistan’s political and economic development.

h3. Updates

The News says that the “book is now available in bookstores”:http://www.thenews.com.pk/daily_detail.asp?id=58732. It wasn’t available yesterday though, and as of June 5th is still not in any store in Karachi.

h3. reviews

* ” Military Inc. — it’s big business in Pakistan”:http://www.hindu.com/2007/04/19/stories/2007041902931200.htm

* “Amazon”:http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0745325459

* “Pakistan: the army as the state “:http://www.opendemocracy.net/globalization/pakistan_military_4519.jsp

* “Guardian: Book shines light on Pakistan military ‘£10bn empire”:http://books.guardian.co.uk/news/articles/0,,2092182,00.html

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13 Comments

  1. If you visit the Amazon URL, Amazon says: Better Together with “In the Line of Fire”

    I thought it was an accidental irony but the irony nevertheless.

    One of the lesser popular myth Pakistan Army has created in defending the existence and economic strength of its organizations is that these institutes (Fauji Foundation, Army Welfare Trust etc.) exist to support the “families” and spouses of retired Armed Forces personnel. Well, unfortunately, I have only come across only more of the distasteful families who don’t speak much higher about the foundation and its support to ordinary soldiers to officers of lower command. But I guess many people don’t also know that there’s a difference of power, influence and growth of a Major in Army who’s been an ADC of a General or led successfully a battalion at the border or such than the majority who doesn’t go past the rank of Major mostly. And then there are issues and intricacies of inter-corps and inter-division professional rivalries and so on which are known to even lesser people. For example, for the whole Signals corps, see how many 4 star generals are there as compared with those of Artillery and Armed Corps. And I haven’t even added Infantry who actually bags most of the top positions (did I mention almost all COAS have been affiliated with infantry one way or another) Sure the sheer size and professional competency of Infantry men put them at the fore-front but I am not sure if that still satisfies many officers in the other corpses. Imagine a mr. no body (who hasn’t had anyone in Army or politics before him) waiting for his time to be promoted as Col. and all the officers deciding for him aren’t even from his corpse

    The point is, many of us don’t know of how Army works internally. We, as Pakistani nation, for good or bad I am not sure, have made our officers and soldiers LARGER THAN LIFE (recap to pre-1965 or hell, even during Kargill and Nuclear tests) which has led us NOT TO QUESTION anything out of mundane, anything that’s other than what is being throwing down our throats. We, as a nation, too have led ourselves in creating a “mythical figure” who cares for the country and Islam only. I, in no way, am questioning the professional commitment and dedication, it’s the intent and other reasons as to why soldiers go to war and conflicts that I want others to think about.

    Many soldiers and officers of lower ranks and others, more so in recent times, have grown equal distaste and discomfort against civilian Pakistanis (mostly against media which I think is natural) and there’s little chance of it getting any better with hightening opposition and never-before-seen hatred of this status against Armed forces. How on earth do you think they are gonna go to any conflict and war thinking about Pakistan? If you ever had a chance of being with one, you’d know the answer is simpler and probably shocking. And yet every day the gulf becomes wider and wider for the pursuit of power and happiness of one man. How sad.

  2. While we are at it, let me sincerely show my discomfort and worries over the Armed Forces’ attitude towards furthering the education. There are many bright minds in Army which unfortunately go unnoticed or played down because the “working of Army” don’t allow you to study formal education much further with fewer and fewer exceptions. As I mentioned, Signals Corps who comprises on the most educated wing of the Army is NOT the one who enjoys a better status and respect despite the rising needs of innovation, technological advancements and more professional attitude towards crisis-management (from technology standpoint).

    Another area where Army has clearly been dumbfounded is the notorious ISPR. Now, ISPR is not just an equivalent of “Ministry of Information and News of Army” they are much more because of the relationship and working of Army. I wish someone bring it to parliament and decide to disjoint (of the sorts) ISPR with the regular Army and only those could joing ISPR who have journalistic ambitions as well as can be freely allowed and encouraged to study more. I know there are many who have masters and even PhD degrees but fewer and fewer among different corpses. Not just that but anyone from Artillery or Services or even Signals could go and join ISPR for couple of months/years and then join back. Sure it would have some merits but how come you never know about these matters? I find this particular issue falling under the domain of Parliament because of its unique role of “information and news reporting” beside other related jobs to the civil society as well as within the three forces.

    While they have Fox and CNN, they do have many many Iraqi Vets or even serving Iraqi Soldiers who blog, post pictures at Flickr and so on. If Pakistani Government finds inspiration in Western media (most definitely Fox and CNN et al.) why can’t they allow more open-ended discussion and dialogue between civil and army?

    I think it’s just about the time we start treating them like Human Beings and our brothers. Nothing more nothing less. And no one stops you indicting your brother.

  3. for amazon both books are by pakistanis, so they better put them together but believe me this book is really true and serious as compare to musharraf funny stories and jokes…

  4. The book hasn’t been available in any of the bookstores I’ve checked at so far since the time I posted this article to this comment.

  5. Patronization, “superior corp” complex ,’nepotism’ etc. these can be attributed to any defence setup … across the world. look at India’s army and you can draw many parallels ;). This is harmless, incompetent men cannot stay in-charge for long.

    The bad bits are when politician start interfering with the system. See how Ayub khan was selected out of turn, thats a wrong precedent to set in a country with political unstabilty.

    The other bit is peoples faith in democracy. The deal is in India its tough to beat the system and people still have faith in democracy. As long as this is there no general is getting any ideas.

  6. I have not seen the book still as it has been vanished by the rogue army or it has been bought by the people just like a hot cake. undoubtedly the military inc is a great effort to disclose rouguness of the rogue

    army of pakistan. most of the pakistani people are afraid of the military. even highly educated persons feel fearful to open the mouth against the army. as it is notorious in oppressing the people by its natzi type tactics but now the time has come to combat the rogue army. otherwise it will eat up whole of the country.

  7. its a book, a history of monarchy, a story of paracites, a story of those (shameless) can do any atrocity for a little benifit. A tale of those who fought but remained conquered but conqurer of own mohterland. A fact about braves inside the country but cowards outside. Tales of those money slaves who sold montherland sons for a little and are still feeling hunger. A tale of those stupids who got the guns and thinking they can even write with gun instead of pen. What a book and what a brave Lady Aeysha Siddiqa is.

  8. What a book and what a brave Lady Ayesha Siqqiqa is. it must be translated into urdu so every one can read and understand fully. The time has come that masses should come out of skull of so called savior of the nation, marde momin etc, etc like things. The drastic impact of narrated paracite economy has been exposed very well. Why it has been banned, I cant understand. If people are stupid that they cant distinguished between good and bad and make there own decision about credibility of book. No one should be allowed to decide what shoud be banned or open for buplic in Pakistan.

  9. today is 21st of june and still the book is not available in the market. The bookstores are saying that army has taken all the stock from market and are not allowing to sell it to people. What is this? Till when they shall be able to hide the truth from the people.

  10. I am kind of sick reading these comments and ill mindedness of this lady in search of cheap and overnight sale of the books which is itself stupid. There is no one who can question the existence of army in area we live in. You can write books who are profitable and you will be acknowledged in world as well as some people will ban it, not being any close to any one in army, I think if there wasn’t an Mil. Inc this lady and the writers in this blog would have been living like conditions out Western neighbor is living so be careful what you are talking about. If there are companies who take care about retired people there, its no wonder there are every where in world, like US has Reserve army who are highly paid. These companies are run like commercial institutes and some really contribute towards our industry growth.

    Please stop this nonsense, we have seen our demo governments and am sick about their minds and their education level. Only institution which is dependable is army so please stop this now.

  11. totally agreed with Sajjad

    i am kind of sick reading these comments and ill mindedness of this lady in search of cheap and overnight sale of the books which is itself stupid. There is no one who can question the existence of army in area we live in. You can write books who are profitable and you will be acknowledged in world as well as some people will ban it, not being any close to any one in army, I think if there wasn’t an Mil. Inc this lady and the writers in this blog would have been living like conditions out Western neighbor is living so be careful what you are talking about. If there are companies who take care about retired people there, its no wonder there are every where in world, like US has Reserve army who are highly paid. These companies are run like commercial institutes and some really contribute towards our industry growth.

    Please stop this nonsense, we have seen our demo governments and am sick about their minds and their education level. Only institution which is dependable is army so please stop this now.

  12. Politician must be accountable to discover and present it to the house. Army must be accountable to check their action. Killing innocent people and siding the super power and assume the role of caretaker is not going to work.

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