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Friday, May 15, 2009

Pakistan's Military

This is an excellent overview of civil-military relations in Pakistan from Al Jazeera.

Towards the end of the piece, one commentator states that if the Taliban attempted to storm Karachi, or just walk through a city, they would stick out like a sore thumb and would be crushed. I guess this would be similiar to how a NASCAR fan from Pennsyltucky drinking a PBR in a koozie would stand out in crowd of coked-up, two-tone shirt and pinstripe suit wearing analysts in the financial district of Manhattan and be promptly arrested by the NYPD. Interesting.

The Pakistani military is the most important institution in the country.

Ayub Khan, a former military ruler, described the relationship between the Pakistani state and the military thus: "The military in our country is an institution for which a piece of real estate was attached."

Pakistan's army is the seventh largest in the world with 650,000 troops on active duty plus 302,000 paramilitary and 528,000 reservists; that gives the country a 1,400,000 fighting force.

The military institution of Pakistan received a huge boost in 1999 when the country entered the nuclear club.

As the Pakistani army intensifies its offensive against the Taliban, Inside Story asks: Is the army really committed to the fight? Is it properly prepared for counter-insurgency? What role other than fighting does the military hold in Pakistani politics and how much control does the army have over the future of the country?

Lauren Taylor, our presenter, is joined by Maria Sultan, the director of the South Asian Strategic Stability Institute; Salman Ahmed, a journalist specialising on Pakistani Affairs; and Julian Schofield, a professor of political science at Concordia University and author of numerous books on Pakistani military affairs.

1 comment:

T. Greer said...

A very interesting piece, thanks for bringing it to my attention. (Certainly it is one more bit of evidence for my tentative thesis that Al Jazeera is a better news source than every other Western News Outlet.)

Perhaps I am mistaken, but it appears to me that all three analysts miss the obvious point in regards to the Pakistani offensive in Swat: when dealing with hearts and minds, "strategic value" is determined by psychological, not geographic, features of the landscape.

From this perspective the ISI's move makes sense; the first and foremost concern of the ISI is the legitimacy (or lack thereof) of the government as seen by the people of Pakistan. What better way to restore trust in governmental authority than to wipe out the most conspicuous example insurgent power?