Pakistan Army: Facts Over Fiction – OpEd


The Annual Finance Bill commonly known as Federal Budget is essentially an official document passed by the Parliament that lays down Government’s financial priorities for the next year. It apportions funds for different sectors including the defence. Ironically however, as soon as the federal budget is presented each year, detractors and dissidents begin to spread malicious propaganda against Government and its priority towards national defence.

A maliciously coordinated trend is orchestrated against Pakistan Army and share of defence in national budget. Certain misnomers and distortions that usually don’t hold ground are spread blatantly to stir chaos and cause insinuation. Detractors exploit the defence budget to distort facts and create baseless narratives, attempting to undermine the credibility and sacrifices of the Armed Forces. However, it remains crucial to address such misconceptions and highlight the truth about the defence budget and the invaluable role of the Pakistan Army and its affiliated institutions.

Contrary to the claims made by critics, the institutions managed by the Pakistan Army, do not consume a single penny from the national treasury. Not only these welfare institutions are self-sufficient but these also significantly contribute to the national economy. In the fiscal year 2022-2023 alone, these military-operated enterprises paid approximately 360 billion rupees in taxes and duties to the national exchequer. Such a huge contribution underscores the role of the military in supporting the country’s economic framework.

By all means, the individuals belonging to Armed Forces are the responsibility of the state, like other citizens. Their in service, post service and post martyrdom welfare, remains to be a state function. However, to ensure welfare of its personnel particularly the martyrs and their families, Pakistan Army has instituted well thought out welfare programs at its own and essentially managing within its allocated means, thus causing no burden on national exchequer, for the upkeep of  its personnel, including martyrs, veterans, and their families. These institutions are managed through a comprehensive system that ensures accountability and transparency . Organizations such as the Fauji Foundation play a key role in this system, providing essential services and support. These initiatives are funded through the earnings of military-operated enterprises, not through the national budget. This arrangement reflects the Army’s commitment towards the welfare of its personnel without imposing additional financial burdens on the state.

The welfare of retired officers, soldiers, and the families of martyrs is managed through an organized and efficient system. The Fauji Foundation, for example, offers extensive services ranging from healthcare to education, ensuring that the sacrifices of military personnel are honoured and their families are well taken care of. This network of support is a testament to the Army’s dedication to its personnel, both serving and retired.

The contribution of Pakistan Army’s Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) and National Logistic Corporation (NLC) extend beyond defence and welfare. These are actively involved in infrastructure development, including the construction of roads, logistic hubs and other critical projects. Their efforts in agriculture, mineral extraction and other sectors, remain to be invaluable, demonstrating their multifaceted role in nation-building. The sacrifices and services of the Army in many areas of national development are irreplaceable and thus deserve recognition.

The employment opportunities, which are created by military-run institutions are not limited to military personnel alone . A significant number of civilians gets employed in these enterprises, contributing to the economy and benefiting from the structured and disciplined environment that these institutions offer. The presence of civilians in these organizations underscores the inclusive nature of the military’s economic initiatives.

Critics often overlook such valuable contributions and choose instead to focus on the defence budget, spreading false narratives about its impact on the national economy. The reality is that the defence budget constitutes a smaller percentage of the national budget than is commonly perceived. In fact, the defence budget for the fiscal year 2023-2024 is only 12.5% of the total national budget, a figure that reflects a reduction from previous years. It may be remembered that one is talking about more than a half million size Army that stands at number five in the complete world.

The narrative that the defence budget is excessively large and burdensome is not only misleading but also dismisses the sacrifices and challenges faced by the Pakistan Armed Forces. These patriots operate under stringent financial constraints, while tackling a wide array of security threats, both internal and external. The efficiency with which they manage multifarious threats, despite limited resources, is highly commendable.

Another point often raised is the supposedly lavish lifestyle and benefits enjoyed by military officers. This portrayal is far from the truth. The benefits received by military personnel are not sourced from the state treasury. Instead, these are funded through deductions from their own modest salaries throughout their careers. Such benefits are a rightful acknowledgment of their service and sacrifices. The apt management and corruption free governance of welfare institutions ensures that an officer gets his/ her due share during and towards the end of career.

The families of martyrs receive support as a way of honoring their ultimate sacrifice for the country. These soldiers give their lives to ensure the safety and peace of our nation, and it is well deserved that their families are taken care of. The support provided to martyr families is a testament to the nation’s gratitude and respect for their sacrifices.

It is important to acknowledge the significant role of Pakistan Army in maintaining national security and stability. Their dedication and resilience in the face of numerous challenges are a cornerstone of Pakistan’s defence. The Army’s contributions are not limited to their military duties but extend to economic support, infrastructure development, and social welfare. These multifaceted roles highlight the indispensable nature of the Pakistan Army in the country’s progress and stability.

Certain dissident political quarters/ detractors, who criticize the military often fail to appreciate their contributions. Ironically, many of these critics benefit from the very institutions they malign. They prefer living in Defense Housing Authority (DHA) residences and seek medical treatment from Combined Military Hospitals (CMH), enjoying the facilities provided by military-operated enterprises.

Pakistan Army and its affiliated institutions play a crucial role in the nation’s defence, economic stability, and social welfare. The myths surrounding the defence budget are baseless and fail to acknowledge the significant contributions made by the military. The Army operates under tight financial constraints, while providing essential services and support to its personnel and the nation. The sacrifices and services of the Pakistan Armed Forces are invaluable and deserve respect and recognition. As a nation, we must support and honor our military for their unwavering dedication and resilience in protecting and serving Pakistan.

Sehr Rushmeen

Sehr Rushmeen, an Islamabad based freelance researcher, did her MPhil from National Defence University (NDU) in Strategic Studies and her BSc from University of London (UOL) in International Relations. Her area of research interest is Strategic Nuclear Studies, Artificial Intelligence in Warfare, Conflict Zone in Middle East, South China Sea and South Asian Politics. Has several publications in renowned regional and international newspapers and magazines. She tweets by the handle @rushmeentweets and can be reached on [email protected]

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