Why is the army so popular in Pakistan?

Published: December 24, 2011
The writer is a director with Hill Road Media and a former editor of the Mumbai-based English newspaper Mid Day and the Gujarati paper Divya Bhaskar 

The writer is a director with Hill Road Media and a former editor of the Mumbai-based English newspaper Mid Day and the Gujarati paper Divya Bhaskar [email protected]

Earlier this month, journalist Najam Sethi sketched his thesis on why the army dominated Pakistan. He explained it in historical and cultural terms. He cited Jinnah’s aggregation of power, the Muslim League’s unconstitutional approach (referring to the violence of Direct Action Day) in getting what it wanted, the army’s cultural connections with rural society and so on. He showed also how, correspondingly, in India the situation was different, because its leaders had always been constitutionally minded. The Congress Party had a democratic history going back to 1885 and Nehru represented its third generation of leaders.

Sethi convincingly showed why the army was dominant in Pakistan. However, his thesis does not account for its popularity.

A Pew poll reported by Reuters a few months ago said the army was ‘overwhelmingly popular’ in Pakistan. It said 79 per cent of Pakistanis thought their army ‘had a good influence on the country’. The poll was taken after Bin Laden’s killing to see if the army had suffered in popularity. It hadn’t. This devotion to their army is obvious to those who follow Pakistan’s media. The Urdu media especially, but also much of the English media. The army is more popular in Pakistan than the country’s political parties and its elected leaders.

The question is why. Why is an army that imposed dictatorship on Pakistanis four times (1958, 1969, 1978 and 1999), displaced governments Pakistanis elected another three times (1990, 1993, 1996) and hanged a prime minister still popular? Why do Pakistanis love the ISI, an institution whose former chief Lt-General Asad Durrani (a fellow columnist for this newspaper) says on oath that it meddles in elections and spent $ 1.6 million to see the PPP defeated?

Why do Pakistanis hold their politicians responsible for the nation’s problems when Pakistan’s budget, its foreign policy, its security policy and its Balochistan policy are run by the army? Why do Pakistanis like an army whose chiefs arbitrarily grant themselves extensions (since 1947, India has had 26 army chiefs, while Pakistan has had only 14) because they can?

Is the army popular because it is excellent at its function — that of defending Pakistan? But the record there is rather thin. So is it popular because of a threat? Whose aggression is the army defending Pakistan against? The Pew poll said only 19 per cent of Pakistanis thought the enemy was internal — the Pakistani Taliban. India is the enemy according 57 per cent of those polled. The poll found that 74 per cent of Pakistanis think India is a serious threat.

What could the nature of threat from India be? The last war was fought in 1999 and would not have been fought had it not been begun by an unthinking general. Do Pakistanis actually believe Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi represent a military threat? This seems difficult to wrap one’s head around.

Do Pakistanis they hate India so much that they want the army to defy it? Only 14 per cent of Pakistanis have a positive view of India, which is half from the third that had a positive view in 2006.

The poll said 92 per cent of Pakistanis thought their nation was in the wrong direction. But how could it be otherwise? The army has power but pretends to be subordinate to the PPP. The PPP pretends to be in charge, but actually has no real control over the budget, no say in foreign policy, no freedom to trade with India, no power to improve relations with America. Pakistan has lost its finest diplomat in the process.

The last time a majority of Pakistanis felt their country was headed in the right direction was under Musharraf in 2005.

The fault does not lie with the stars and it does not lie with the army which is only doing what is asked of it by its citizenry. The fault that Pakistan is a nation ruled by its army is that of the Pakistanis.

The army’s real power comes not from its guns, but its popularity. Next week we shall look at an unexplored explanation for this.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 25th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (87)

  • Moulay Youssef
    Dec 24, 2011 - 11:42PM

    well argued, sir.

    why, indeed.


  • SalSal
    Dec 25, 2011 - 12:10AM

    Oho I was hoping for more. It’s full of questions and no answers. Btw did anybody realize that most of Pakistans high economic growth occured during the military era? Anyways, this time the army chief Kayani isn’t someone who would like to poke his nose in politics. Well seems like. But even America described him like that. The politicians should now do good things so that they don’t give the army an oppurtunity to meddle again


  • It's (still) the economy, stupid
    Dec 25, 2011 - 12:33AM

    In psychology, Stockholm Syndrome is an apparently paradoxical psychological phenomenon in which hostages express empathy and have positive feelings towards their captors, sometimes to the point of defending them. These feelings are generally considered irrational in light of the danger or risk endured by the victims, who essentially mistake a lack of abuse from their captors for an act of kindness.
    I hope this provides the explaination.


  • Bilal
    Dec 25, 2011 - 12:48AM

    as a Pakistani not blinded by the khaki color, I ask the same question and struggle for an explanation.

    excellent article.


  • Optimist
    Dec 25, 2011 - 12:56AM

    I agree. All my friends ALWAYS criticse politicians and look at the army as saviour and Messiah! I am often considered ‘traitor’ when I am discussing why Civilian rule is the best.


  • Mir Agha
    Dec 25, 2011 - 1:00AM

    Why does the hateful hindutva narrative play so well in india, crossing all political, and even religious lines? I’d recommend you look into that, but that would require you to stop with your Pakistan obsession Recommend

  • mansoon
    Dec 25, 2011 - 1:05AM

    army and armed resistance is central to islamic faith and this has played a major role in pakistan. very difficult so see if this will change in near future.very difficult the change the mind set of whole population blinded by so called muslim superiority by sword.


  • Kataria
    Dec 25, 2011 - 1:25AM

    Still waiting for the “constitutionality” of the invasion of Goa and Hyderabad, just to name a few…


  • Max
    Dec 25, 2011 - 1:53AM

    Your summary of Najam Sethi’s thesis is well taken. I agree with Mr. Sethi’s analysis and it is not something new. Khalid B. Syed has argued the same about fifty years back in his seminal book on Pakistan’s political system.
    I would add a couple more variabls to your and Mr. Sethi’s very fine and sophisticated analysis and these are:
    1. The areas that became Pakistan had a very long tradition of authoritarian rule either by local landed interests, or the state functionaries. So it was a continuation of the same bureaucratic-authoritarian social and political culture. Add physical distance— from the seat of governance—–to this variable (Delhi, and then Calcutta under the Raj), these areas were at the fringes of the administrative, commercial, and educational systems.
    2. The tradition of military service in these areas goes back to the Moghal days. These areas provided a bulk of the fighting machinery. Just look at the history of regiments and you will find that Bengal infantry/cavalry was heavily populated by soldiers from the northwestern provinces.
    3. After the advent of the British Raj in Punjab, the state civil machinery was mostly seconded from the military (to which James Beam calls Kutchery Captains).


  • LOK
    Dec 25, 2011 - 2:24AM

    Majority of Pakistanis are on the right of the center, this group obviously fantasize the military, no different than right wing Hindus, Christians, Jews etc.


  • |TopGun|
    Dec 25, 2011 - 2:36AM

    Also Junagarh! A plebiscite for Junagarh while none for Kashmir?!?!


  • |TopGun|
    Dec 25, 2011 - 2:47AM

    Where was the Indian “constitutionality” in the annexation of Goa and Hyderabad, invasion and plebiscite for the Hindu majority state (Junagarh) that acceded to Pakistan while no plebiscite for Kashmir, and invasion of East Pakistan. India is mostly responsible for antagonizing Pakistan against itself.Recommend

  • Falcon
    Dec 25, 2011 - 3:05AM

    Any person who is willing to spill his / her blood for a nation will be respected more than others…wherever you go…Pakistan or US…specially when a nation is in the state of fear of encroachment on physical and ideological boundaries…you have to understand the fundamentals first before you start over-emotionalizing the issue


  • arindom
    Dec 25, 2011 - 3:51AM

    Popular in Panjab only. As it is overwhelmingly Panjabi and guarantees Panjab runs rest of country!!


  • A Fahran
    Dec 25, 2011 - 4:08AM

    strong textThe fault that Pakistan is a nation ruled by its army is that of the Pakistanis.

    THIS IS THE REAL PROBLEM. SOMEONE SAID PEOPLE GET THE RULERS THEY DESERVE. Blaming rulers, US or India will not solve the real problems of Pakistan. The problem lies in the society and the priorities people place for religion over other things. Systematic ethnic cleansing of cultures and other religions has had bad effect on the internal psyche of Pakistanis. Unlike the dull, boring Arab nations, Pakistan was multicultural society before 1947. Look where it is now. To what extent an emphasis on one religion for a nation can do is shown by Pakistan to the world.


  • C. Nandkishore
    Dec 25, 2011 - 4:09AM

    Human nature is such that it has to be proud of something that is owns. For a Pakistani national there is nothing else to be proud of.


  • A Fahran
    Dec 25, 2011 - 4:10AM

    @Mir Agha:
    you need som serious help buddy!!! its amazing that you bought the religious angle to this -shame.


  • ksri
    Dec 25, 2011 - 4:48AM

    Unlike in India, the Pakistani army permeates almost every person’s life in Pakistan. It is the only institution that seem to function. In a kingdom of blind, one-eyed person is the king. When bulk of the budget goes to funding ever increasing presence of military, what can the politicians do with a few peanuts left. More important, the politicians have no say in foreign, defense and budget policies. They have all the responsibilities with virtually no rights. The Pakistani politician are truly pitiable and are often made the scape goats when things go wrong (this happens very often). The army, on the other hand, enjoys all the powers and is accountable to none. Pakistan army hides behind the civilian facade.

    There are many parts of India where people have no clue about its military unless there is a base or installation.


  • Wasil Arian
    Dec 25, 2011 - 5:54AM

    Pakistani mindset is mired in the culture of physical violence. The country was created on the foundation stones of delusional ideology that Muslims heirs to the northern invaders are entitled to an unqualified rule of entire country and dominence of Hindu majority in a democratic set up did not suit them. In there subconscious it has been ingrained that it is still possible to achieve this goal through armed invasion. Althogh the Pakstan army has an overly dismal track record and has been humiliated time and again the Pakistanis are not prpared to let go the expectation of such a miracle from it. It is why army is so popular in Pakistan and will continue to remain so till its army throws it in an abslute state of ruin and ignominy.


  • narayana murthy
    Dec 25, 2011 - 8:10AM


    SUPER point!

    Monsoon explains a point which is missed by the author. A very very valid point and perhaps more germane than what Najam Sethi explains. Islamic mindset!

    Muslims have always considered to be martial race. A race that is capable of spreading Islam and defending Islam by sword across the globe. This has been so, for millenniums. Today, army is looked upon with the same frame of mind. Army is a defender of Islam. Army is a protector of Islam. In fact there are many Pakistanis that believe that Pakistan army is meant to protect all the Muslims of the world.


  • Simon
    Dec 25, 2011 - 8:33AM

    And which God mandated that “Thou shall think and act rationally”. So pls stop expecting that from human race.


  • Sajida
    Dec 25, 2011 - 9:15AM

    Civilian politicians have plenty of latitude to fail or succeed. And unfortunately they take that lattitude in the negative direction. Politicians are fuedals who treat voters like they treat their landless tenants. Also army has officials who rise from bottom, meanwhile in political parties they are only on top is they have the right blood connections. Do you think the majority of the public cannot see that?


  • Reddy
    Dec 25, 2011 - 9:25AM

    perhaps pakistan army knows it’s inhabitants more than Pakistani people know about themselves or Pakistanis are more predictable people than many ,with possible common trigger points which garners same response irrespective of the time they live in.Recommend

  • Dec 25, 2011 - 9:46AM

    Since before Partition India has been under the influence of Intellectuals, while Pakistan has been under the influence of pseudo-Intellectuals. Recommend

  • optimist
    Dec 25, 2011 - 10:55AM

    i support democracy,but when the democracy returned in this country,i ask all of u,did it deliver?


  • optimist
    Dec 25, 2011 - 10:57AM

    aker patel sahib should also write article “why indians hate pak army”


  • Umar
    Dec 25, 2011 - 11:27AM

    well under musharraf pakistan did have 7.5% growth in 2006…so one cant blame the pakistanis for pridicting a good future.


  • Feroz
    Dec 25, 2011 - 11:40AM

    @Mir Agha:
    Continue living in delusion while the World marches on. Nobody except Pakistani’s see India or Hindus as a threat. Even Bhutan which is landlocked and never had any Army cannot visualize any threat.


  • Mirza
    Dec 25, 2011 - 12:02PM

    Pakistani army was never popular in East Pakistan which was 56% of total population of Pakistan. Even in today’s Pakistan, except Punjab and KPK the army is not popular. In fact it is just the other way in Sind and Baluchistan. Like a Mafia or a business empire the generals stick together and never go against their clique. Even after the worst humiliations of the history of the world still there has never been a counter coup against a military rule in Pakistan. The generals can do no wrong and they cover each other by offering guard of honor to the fleeing general Mush. In other countries like Turkey, Israel the army is a national army and not ruling elites.


  • Jp
    Dec 25, 2011 - 12:15PM

    If people of Pakistan is happy with Army rule it is their choice. Actually India is also more comfortable dealing with a military man than a civilian govt because there will be only one power centre. In fact Musharaf & Manmohan was very close in resolving Kashmir issue.


  • Jp
    Dec 25, 2011 - 12:19PM

    @Mir Agha:
    This is the main problem with you people mixing religion in everything. See where Pakistan stands today i? It is in the list of most failed states. With such mindset I dout how long Pakistan can survive as a nation in the long run


  • plaintalk
    Dec 25, 2011 - 12:21PM

    Well-argued. But let’s hold comment till the next week to see how the author solves this conundrum.
    Meanwhile though as input some observations may be made. What made the army so popular? Who contributed to destabilising the political situation, by supporting Nazimuddin’s ouster that gave ideas to military adventurers? And, would Zia had pounced upon him had ZAB only swallowed his ego and accepted the opposition demand for cancelling the election results?


  • Pakistani in US
    Dec 25, 2011 - 12:28PM

    @ksri, very true. The amry’s narrative is so strong and their game so well played that I couldn’t wrap my head around the reality (for 23 years) until I moved to US. Our brain washing starts the day we are sent to schools. It’s not the parents or the politicians, it’s our text book that teach to love army (defender of faith and stronghold of Islam i.e. Pakistan) and hate everyone else.


  • gp65
    Dec 25, 2011 - 12:43PM

    @Falcon: “specially when a nation is in the state of fear of encroachment on physical and ideological boundarie”
    SO why do Bangladeshis, Nepalese, Bhutanese and Burmese people not fear an aggression from India or an encroachment?


  • AN
    Dec 25, 2011 - 12:44PM

    Pak army deploys the “Stockholm Syndrome” to keep a captive following. Besides, a besieged country is so scared that it pleads with defenders to protect them.Also, pakistan can pretend to box above its weight because Army has given them the nukes. Otherwise a 180 million country with a USD 180 billion GDP would be forgotten and ignored by the world. Afterall bangladesh has an economy about 130 billion, not much smaller than pak, but is hardly important to the world.
    India is hated because that is taught to the kidsagain anda agian. In india, pak is pretty inconsequential to most people. we may be annoyed by pakistans strident hatemongering and supporting terrorist jihadis, but i dont we” hate” any country.
    Besides, Muslim community always love and are in awe of people in uniform( kings, emirs,generals,nawabs). They love to be subjugated by someone more powerful.


  • Feroz
    Dec 25, 2011 - 1:31PM

    @Pakistani in US:
    Good message buddy, there can be no ideology without brainwashing. Without enemies real or concocted there is no need of an Army. Bhutan never had an Army as they could see no threat from anywhere, contrast it with countries seeing enemies in their own shadow.


  • Naveed Alam Khattak
    Dec 25, 2011 - 1:31PM

    @Pakistani in US
    And now who brain washed you. Lol…….


  • Falcon
    Dec 25, 2011 - 1:43PM

    Firstly, my comment didn’t refer to India in specific. It refers to the ‘perception’ on the ground regarding western countries as well as India, which is certainly divorced from the facts. This fear originates from a number of forces at work including our religious clergy, media, recent history (last two centuries), education system, establishment, information bias in general, and most importantly our laziness (to verify facts for ourselves) but singling out establishment is over-simplification of the issue since they themselves are the product of this system rather than the sole creators of it.


  • Anand Kumar
    Dec 25, 2011 - 2:00PM

    The reason is not so hard to find. It all has to do with the term “Ideology of Pakistan.” The term ‘ideology of Pakistan’ was first introduced officially by General Sher Ali Pataudi during Yahya Khan’s rule. General Pataudi was an exceptionally rigid and narrow-minded individual. This ideology casts Pakistan as the “torch-bearer of the Muslim ummah. This ideology invented an history for Pakistan, wherein Pakistan rejected its South Asian roots and history and instead adopted an invented arabised ancestry. This ideology casts non-muslims as the enemies of the ummah. Commodore Tariq Majid laid out a road map for Pakistan in the Pakistan army’s so called “Green Book” series. He wrote: “the Islamic state, apart from the standing forces, keeps a volunteer force of the people and employs the other lot of able-bodied manpower to strengthen the other elements of the military system during wartime.” His “volunteer force of the people” would, in time, evolve into the ISI-backed jihadist networks Pakistan now sponsors. This volunteer force’s mindset has now infected all strata of the Pakistani society and hence the popularity of the army!


  • outraged
    Dec 25, 2011 - 2:01PM

    Aakar, do your research first. Pakistan army is popular because it is not a traitor like the politicians. The politicians have always sold Pakistan’s interests to foreign powers including USA, UK, and now India. Given that Pakistan India have fought 3 wars and India has setup 16 fake consulates in Afghanistan which are actually housing RAW agents and Indian soldiers, how can the current govt grant Most Favored Nation status to India? It amounts to betrayal of 180 million people of Pakistan. That is why public is saying that enough is enough. It’s time to kick out the traitors.


  • Oz
    Dec 25, 2011 - 2:06PM

    Actually they do.


  • Diogenes
    Dec 25, 2011 - 2:36PM

    Why does the hateful hindutva
    narrative play so well in india,
    crossing all political, and even
    religious lines? I’d recommend you
    look into that, but that would require
    you to stop with your Pakistan

    Yes, the same “hateful Hindutva narrative” that has led to the BJP being defeated for two general elections in a row.


  • forgive and forget
    Dec 25, 2011 - 2:49PM

    Just go through the Pakistan Study Textbooks. No further research will be required.Recommend

  • |TopGun|
    Dec 25, 2011 - 3:17PM

    You predicted that 70 years ago, try something new.


  • Dec 25, 2011 - 4:36PM

    @Wasil Arian: Of all the comments I read here what you have said has appealed me the most. Yes I agree. A handful of Muslims came, captured and ruled for hundreds of years. This psyche of ruling the continent again is still alive in the imaginations of people of Pakistan as they see themselves an extension of those rulers. I remember, at the time of partition, there was a very popular slogan “Lar ke liya hai Pakistan hans ke lenge Hindustan” meaning we have taken Pakistan with a fight however we will capture India just like that – easily.Recommend

  • abhi
    Dec 25, 2011 - 5:23PM

    @Falcon: “specially when a nation is in the state of fear of encroachment on physical and ideological boundarie”

    After USA and USSR I think Pakistan is the only nation where ideological boundries are important, and it is probably only country where Army is taking care of ideological boundries.


  • Roflcopter
    Dec 25, 2011 - 6:49PM

    Pak Army Zindabad!


  • naive
    Dec 25, 2011 - 6:59PM

    I keep hearing the term “idealogical boundary” and “idealogy of Pakistan”. Can some one explain in simple terms what exactly is this “Idealogy” and what are its boundaries???


  • Imran bashir
    Dec 25, 2011 - 7:08PM

    Pakistanis love army because it stems from popular middle and lower middle classes and hence holds same social an religious values. In every village or town every fourth or fifth house has a son in army. People are happy to be ruled by ‘one of their own’.

    Not so much with polititians, who mostly come from elite class. This, coupled with consistent propaganda against politicians make them inherently hateful.

    In Sheikh Rasheed’s words “Army tu awam mein say hay, wahan mochi ka beta bhi hay aur jolahay ka beta bhi”.


  • ashok sai
    Dec 25, 2011 - 7:59PM

    180 million people’s fate decided by few generals, irony is most of them feel proud about it, funny !


  • Anwar Khan
    Dec 25, 2011 - 8:01PM

    Is not ironic that on Quaid’s135th birth anniversary we are glorifying military supremacy in our country? The civility and idealistic notion that Quaid dreamed and spoke about have been hijacked by the military and clerics. In a misguided thinking that India is our perpetual enemy, so far we have managed to sell our souls to the military, clerics, militants of every nationals and now to the Chinese. When will we be Quaid’s Pakistanis?


  • AK
    Dec 25, 2011 - 8:56PM

    Religion is opium when taken outside personal domains. It should be a personal and private moral compass to people and not a tool of statecraft.


  • zealouszee
    Dec 25, 2011 - 9:25PM

    Pakistan Army is so popular in Pakistan because it deserves to be popular. People say why we believe Army is our only Savior after ALLAH? That’s true because whether there is an earth quake or a flood in our country, a terrorist activity or any kind of internal or external threat in our country, our so called beloved political Governments are not there to help. Political governments have always done nothing good, but corruption. We received lesser foreign aid in recent flood. Why? because not only Pakistanis, but foreigners also do not trust our political governments to deliver the aid to the deserving people. On the other hand, Pakistan Army is always found helping the poor people of Pakistan by building model villages and carrying out evacuation operations on emergency basis.
    Ask people of SWAT valley why do they love army..and you will get a better picture..Because Army fought for the people of SWAT and earned the freedom for people who were nothing more than like hostages.

    It is true that Pakistani Army officers take oath to not interrupt the politics and government of Pakistan, but guess what? They also take a more significant and bigger oath to fight against any internal or external threats to the country. So, if some foreign forces try to attack Pakistan, our Army defends our country. Similarly, if our CORRUPTED POLITICAL PARTIES AND POLITICAL SYSTEM tries to destroy over beloved country, they have to interrupt for the betterment of our Country.

    So called open minded and “FREEDOM” minded people should realize that the only institution that Pakistan nation believes right now is our ARMED FORCES. That is what foreign anti-Pakistani forces target. Mehran Base, Mannawa, GHQ attack its all a connected chain to hurt our belief on our Armed Forces. If this nation lost its belief in Armed Forces, there will be nothing to belief….and we will nauzubillah die in confusion and in a state of uncertainty.

    Long Live Pakistan Army…I will keep supporting my army till the last drop of my blood!


  • Dec 25, 2011 - 9:32PM

    Pakistanis are indoctrinated to love the army and hate India. It’s quite obvious to anyone who has lived abroad and then moved to Pakistan. The indoctrination starts at an early age and probably happens in school. The history and Pakistan studies syllabus for example. It happens through the media as well. People who don’t have access to the media or to schools are indoctrinated by those in the populace who do have access i.e. by word of mouth.

    The reality is that people everywhere are indoctrinated by their country’s govt. We’ve all seen the effects of the US govt’s indoctrination of it’s own populace. The Indians will attest to the indoctrination they receive that teaches them to look at Pakistan and China in a negative light. Similarly the Chinese are taught to look at the Indians and Japanese in a negative light. Sri Lankans have a cultural affinity to India so they are taught to look at India in a positive light even though it is India that trained and supported the LTTE for many many years. In short every country indoctrinates its citizens and really powerful countries like the USA indoctrinate the world!

    Sometimes this indoctrination is quite obvious. I am sure the readers here are familiar with the American practice of casting Latinos or Arabs as villains. But did you know that some Chinese movies have Indians as villains?!!


  • Factsnotfairies
    Dec 25, 2011 - 10:27PM

    Military dictatorships have a long history of being popular. When you are a military dictator you can make the people who oppose your policies simply disappear. High poll numbers are easy to achieve if everyone who would have voted against is in a mass grave. When people are afraid they will do everything in their power to conform to the way of thinking that keeps the heat off their own backs.


  • Dec 25, 2011 - 10:28PM

    I couldn’t agree more with the guy who compared the collective psyche of the Pakistani nation with that of a hostage with Stockholm syndrome. Nothing else seems to make sense.

    Either that, or we’re a nation of barbarians who still believe in “jis-ki-lathi-us-ki-bhains” (whoever has the stick gets the cow) rule. How could anyone be so hopelessly masochistic as to relinquish his own voting right, something that has been acquired over rivers of spilt blood, and put all faith in a dictator?

    The worst democratic rule is better than the best kind of dictatorship, because the latter can be voted out of power by the people. Democracy seems to be working fairly well for every civilized nation on the planet, but hell, give us dictatorship!


  • Dec 25, 2011 - 10:32PM

    Democracy in Pakistan has been discredited by the corrupt and incompetent politicians who have been repeatedly elected and failed the people of Pakistan. That is why the people see military as a lesser evil and favor it to lead the country in difficult times.



  • A Shahid
    Dec 25, 2011 - 10:32PM

    Thats because, right or wrong, it is the ONLY functioning institution of Pakistan. Sure, they made cardinal mistakes, errors and even blunders and contributed handsomely to the present ills of Pakistan. But who has not?? All political elite has been on a roller caster of personal vested interests for decades. With army, you at least get some performance and efficiency even if just as an oddity.


  • Rashed Khan
    Dec 25, 2011 - 10:42PM

    “The last time a majority of Pakistanis felt their country was headed in the right direction was under Musharraf in 2005.”

    Gimme a break. with 10% of population going down the poverty line. $78bn came into the country and went down the gutter. Services industry rose like a bubble only to burst in his own tenure. Khakis made millions first in property, then in stock exchange and public sector organisations along with ‘devolutioned’ local bodies run from Islamabad.

    If progress is Nal and Pakki Sarak he indeed was the last bastion.

    Yes the nation loves its army because it is deliberately kept ignorant and malnourished since max of resources goes to the Army. There is complete black out and tailoring of history post independence. Media belongs to them.

    In the words of BB, Agar main qatal ki gayee tau main kissi Baituallah ka naam nahin loon gee bulke unka jo logon ko gumrah kartay hain.


  • Cautious
    Dec 25, 2011 - 11:01PM


    I am sure the readers here are familiar with the American practice of casting Latinos or Arabs as villains.

    The American film industry isn’t run by the govt. so your comparison is inappropriate. In Pakistan your govt insures that the history of your military is fiction – those fantasies are incorporated into your schools textbook’s. The actual history of Pakistan’s military is very unflattering – probably get some of your hero’s tossed in jail in many countries. Recommend

  • forgive and forget
    Dec 25, 2011 - 11:22PM


    If the Pakistanis and Chinese and Americans and the Indians all indulge in ‘indoctrination’ why are the other armies not equally popular?

    How come India has had 26 Army Chiefs since 1947 as against only 14 in Pakistan? And why do the Army Chiefs not get extension after extension?


  • Dec 25, 2011 - 11:38PM

    Plainly put, the “Pakistani Taliban” are US patsies that the US has been using for quite some time to wreak havoc within Pakistan. This “proxy war” has finally burst into the open with the factual allegation by the Pakistani military US-led coalition in eastern Afghanistan is ignoring Islamabad’s demands to follow up on specific intelligence regarding the “Pakistani Taliban” leadership who operate out of the sanctuaries on Afghan territory and indulge in cross-border terrorism. So who do you think is dirty here Pak Army/ISI? Or the US and TTP? A few weeks ago Pakistan’s “elected leaders” and a “finest diplomat” were engaged in an act of treason against the motherland and guess what who caught them in the act Pak Army/ISI.
    BTW what’s your take on poverty in the most populous democracy of the world?Recommend

  • Yogesh
    Dec 26, 2011 - 12:04AM

    If you follow an ideology which was founded by a person involved in numerous wars and most of heroes were warriors and not saints, you will love military. Its not just pakistan, if you look at whole middle east most countries were under dictatorship, either kings or military. War is a way of life for them whether you debate it as aggression or self defence.


  • venky
    Dec 26, 2011 - 2:22AM

    quote: “The fault that Pakistan is a nation ruled by its army is that of the Pakistanis”

    Dear Patel, waiting to see your next column for more understanding why there is so much hatred towards India.


  • Pradeep
    Dec 26, 2011 - 10:55AM

    @Nawaz Ansari – Plainly put, all your accusations are without evidence. In data we trust, everything else, we let it pass. And what is a “factual allegation”? It can either be a fact or it is an allegation until it is proved


  • maryam
    Dec 26, 2011 - 1:42PM

    we are the culprits the people of this country!


  • antony
    Dec 26, 2011 - 1:45PM

    @yogesh , I tend to agree on your comments on the analysis of this particular scenario ..But think from another sample take christians whose founder says “do not take sword as a solution for a fight and if you take sword you will be killed by sword one day ” and still americans,white caucasians all fought wars in europe ,africa ,india etc . Even in India all kings in south and in north were fighting to expand kingdom or get natural resources .. This is way of life for human evolution is my analysis ..


  • hmm
    Dec 26, 2011 - 2:02PM

    Cos army is not the 2% of rich, powerful and unpatriotic individuals who have ruined our nation from the core! Majority rules even if not democratically, hence Army rules!


  • Maqbool
    Dec 26, 2011 - 4:33PM

    Our common public is made foolish on the behalf that our army is the only one which is cure to each and every problem. Why don’t they leave common people to grow, and why don’t do they expend on the common people’s education, health, prosperity and knowledge enhancement in order to keep pace to pace with the current modern world.
    That’s my point. If our security force does it’s duty of defending our sovereignty and leave the nation to explore a brilliant future for themselves, I think our all problems are settled down.


  • Dec 26, 2011 - 9:14PM

    @Cautious: You are actually going to argue the free speech angle? After all the lies that their media continues to print? After all the wars that they’ve waged on the basis of those lies?

    Governments have a huge influence on private enterprise. Where do you think hollywood gets all the military hardware for its movies? They get it from the military in exchange for toeing the govt. line. Their western news media also thrives on access to government sources. Plus the journalists have grown up in that same climate and are partial to their government’s story. As I said the indoctrination starts at a young age.

    @forgive and forget: How do you know they aren’t? I don’t know enough about India or China to answer that. I can tell you the Americans worship their military. You can see them whining about how they’ve lost so many thousands of men in Iraq. They don’t care at all about the hundreds of thousands of civilians that those soldiers killed.


  • Cynical
    Dec 27, 2011 - 12:23AM

    Simply because we are a warrior race.
    Our worldview is that religion is power, ergo “believers” must be powerful.
    We have to regain our lost glory and recreate the caliphate.
    Who better than the Army to achive our goal.


  • Harry Stone
    Dec 27, 2011 - 4:07AM

    Would have to contribute this to the victories of the army.


  • Nakhtar
    Dec 27, 2011 - 8:29AM

    Dear MAX:
    Agreed with your findings in the comment.
    I am student and want to contact you, kindly if you could give me your contact through ExpressTribune, it will be great favor.


  • Noor
    Dec 27, 2011 - 1:32PM

    No offence, we believe that any country in the world doesn’t have a simple or fair policy or ideology as far as is shown in the media & parliament.

    Every country has its establishment at its back;

    US commoners were as against the war as a common man in Pakistan,

    we may take Indian population to be neutral, but the establishment has never left an opportunity to harm Pakistan’s repute in the international scenarios,

    More protests against the war casualties in Afghanistan & FATA were held in UK & Europe than in Pakistan itself, which always has been seen as having soft corner for its brotherly neighbour; which shows even European & UK govts donot play as per civilian planning but the establishments behind the curtains play the decisive role;

    Why is it that Pakistan’s establishment is seen with a critical eye?

    We believe that it is the western & enemy sponsored leadership placed in the country time and again to harm the ideological roots & causes of Pakistan’s objectives, as evident from NRO type mediations imposed forcefully upon Army man.


  • forgive and forget
    Dec 27, 2011 - 7:34PM


    I can tell you the Americans worship their military.

    OK, so how many US Generals have made it to the White House?


  • khurram kaleem
    Dec 27, 2011 - 10:00PM

    Histirically muslim of this country is in search of salahudin ayubi and a war marshall…From childhood religously we are taught about war generals in pakistan.from ayub to zia to musharaf the nation was in search of a messiah as an individual not knowing that a hero is one who runs a team and a system .

    we must know that we need to follow a system and not a leader.


  • delhi_se
    Dec 28, 2011 - 2:32AM

    @Noor: So demanding to punish the culprits of Mumbai carnage is “harming Pakistan’s repute” according to you ? Please do not try to push the blame on us. Pakistan ( it’s people and it’s establishment ) both are doing enough risking their reputation when every time a terrorist root tracks back to Pakistan ? Why are you guys so reluctant in allowing any fair trial on them ? Let alone punishing them. For once prove India wrong and prove that those accused were not involved. Release their voice samples to finish this argument. But the esteemed Pakistani Army which is the topic of discussion much fears to do so. It knows very well it’s direct involvement will be unearthed by any co-operation in this investigation. And it enjoys the support of few fools in Pakistan who still believes Kasab is an Indian even after Rehman Sherry accepted on national television that Kasab hails from Pakistan. so again my friend please explain how is India actually harming your reputation ? By asking for justice ?


  • Dec 28, 2011 - 6:03PM

    @forgive and forget: you have forgotten to add that one of the most famous American Generals; Gen Mac Arthur was sacked by the president of America, a civil head of the state.


  • Dec 29, 2011 - 11:10AM

    @Noor: Dear Sir, You say “we may take Indian population to be neutral, but the establishment has never left an opportunity to harm Pakistan’s repute in the international scenarios,”Indian establishment has no say in any matter. They simply manage their own affairs of training and deployments. it is the Minister of foreign affairs and the Prime Minister of India who carryout all activities on international scenarios. And I am sure they must be doing their best to further the cause of India internationally. I agree with you that in this exercise they may not be furthering the interests of Pakistan.


  • Muhammad Abdullah
    Dec 29, 2011 - 1:05PM

    where are the answers?
    if your job is only to raise questions, then why are you interfering Pakistan? you have many questions to raise in his own country, India
    if the stats shared are by some authentic pole, what else is democracy

    and when talking about Indian Army in Kashmir, here’s your stance: http://tribune.com.pk/story/27593/violence-in-kashmir-again/

    “They were fired upon and the ensuing deaths kept the violence going for days. It has now stopped because the army has enforced peace”

    aint it funny…. Indian Army “enforcing peace” in kashmir :D


  • Dec 29, 2011 - 4:25PM

    @Muhammad Abdullah: You say that “aint it funny…. Indian Army “enforcing peace” in kashmir” Your comment indicates the degree of miss information and bias you suffer. My first had information is in the year 1971 no one in Pakistan and specially in the Pakistan army believed that there are a large number of Muslim officers and jawans in Indian Army. I am not aware what is the situation today.


  • Ajm
    Dec 31, 2011 - 11:06PM

    Er they do , are you honestly going to lie and pretend Indian policy over past 60 years has not been hostile ? Siachin ? Nuclear ? Water flooding ? Anti pak Indian media ?

    Lol we are not stupid
    India wants to weaken Pakistan so it can control the region and because it is jealous of pakistans and wants pakistans land


  • Jan 1, 2012 - 9:43AM

    @Ajm: Dear Ajm, I will honestly tell you that Indian policy towards Pakistan has not been very friendly but it has never been hostile. Yes, steps have been taken to counter effects of a belligerant establishment in Pakistan. We must analyse and understand that size and population of China and India in Asian continent entrusts them to be regional powers. And this should not be a reason of worry to Pakistan as our threat perceptions do not include Pakistan. To play it’s rightful role in the present day world we have to grow in relation to other international powers. It is a sad misconception in Pakistan that our nuclear and defence developments are oriented towards Pakistan. A great campaign of misinformation by the interested sources has damaged our relations. Please be assured that neither we are jealous of you nor need any portion of land which was partitioned by mutual consent. Wishing happy and prosperous New Year to You and people of Pakistan.


    Jan 1, 2012 - 9:37PM

    well mr outraged, no politician is traitor.secondly,we cant discuss the role of army freely.they have ruled for half the existence of Pakistan.Pakistan was divided into two in their rule but can u ask them why?a lot of the mess we are now in is the byproduct of the last two armywalas but who are blamed more?


  • Jan 2, 2012 - 4:16PM

    @Diogenes: Sir you say “Why does the hateful hindutva narrative play so well in india,crossing all political, and even religious lines?” Yes the hateful hindutva narrative play in India but only in about .30%(point three zero percent) hindu mind. That is why the hindutva parties are defeated by hindu majority repeatedly in elections.


  • Khurrum
    Jan 9, 2012 - 4:56AM

    The reason why the army is more popular is simple. They are less corrupt, and less obviously retarded than the PPP and the current President.

    It isn’t that the army is popular, its that the Pakistani politicians are unpopular. And democracy is less meaningful precisely because people never have a chance to choose someone they have any real respect for, or faith in.


  • Deb
    Jan 10, 2012 - 3:44AM


    Well said. But the likes of @Diogenes have made up their mind, no amount of proof is going to help open their eyes.Reality check is a luxury they can’t afford.


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