Find a Security Clearance Job!


Pakistan Military Personnel

The Pakistan Armed Forces as of 2004 consisted of approximately 644,000 active personnel in the army (550,000), air force (70,000), and navy (24,000), as well as over 300,000 paramilitary. In 2004 there were approximately 619,000 active personnel in the army (550,000), air force (45,000), and navy (24,000), as well as 513,000 reserves. Although there is provision for conscription, it has not proven necessary because there are more than enough volunteers for a profession that is both honored and, by Pakistani standards, financially rewarding.

The manpower base of Pakistan, with its population of more than 196 million in 2014, is more than adequate to maintain force levels that the country can afford. In 2014 ther were over 48,000,000 between the ages of 16 and 49, of whom over 37,000,000 were judged fit for military service. The manpower base of Pakistan, with its population of more than 120 million in 1994, included an estimated 6.4 million men and 5.7 million women between the ages of eighteen and twenty-two and another 10 million men and 9 million women between the ages of twenty-three and thirty-two. About two-thirds of the individuals in these groups were estimated to be physically fit for service.

Although recruitment is nationwide and the army attempts to maintain an ethnic balance, most recruits, as in British times, come from a few districts in northern Punjab Province and the adjacent North-West Frontier Province. Most enlisted personnel come from rural families, and although they must have passed the sixth-grade level in school, many have only rudimentary literacy skills and very limited awareness of the modern-day skills needed in a contemporary army. Recruits are processed gradually through a paternalistically run regimental training center, perhaps learning to wear boots for the first time, taught the official language, Urdu, if necessary, and given a period of elementary education before their military training actually starts.

In the thirty-six-week training period, they develop an attachment to the regiment they will remain with through much of their careers and begin to develop a sense of being a Pakistani rather than primarily a member of a tribe or a village. The army encouraged the jawan (basic private) to regard his regiment and his unit as his home or substitute village; and it invested a great deal of time and effort into `man management,' hoping to compensate in part for generally inferior military technology by very highly disciplined and motivated soldiers. Enlisted men usually served for fifteen years, during which they participate in regular training cycles and have the opportunity to take academic courses to help them advance.

Over 300 men enter the army annually through the Pakistan Military Academy at Kakul (in Abbotabad) in the North-West Frontier Province; a small number--especially physicians and technical specialists -- were directly recruited, and these persons were part of the heart of the officer corps. They, too, were overwhelmingly from Punjab and the North-West Frontier Province and of middle-class, rural backgrounds. The product of a highly competitive selection process, members of the officer corps completed ten years of education and spend two years at the Pakistan Military Academy, with their time divided about equally between military training and academic work to bring them up to a baccalaureate education level, which includes English-language skills. There were similar programs for the navy at Rahbar (in Karachi) and for the air force at Sarghoda.

The army had other training establishments, including schools concentrating on specific skills such as artillery, intelligence, or mountain warfare. Plans are being drawn up for the National University of Science and Technology, which would subsume the existing colleges of engineering, signals, and electrical engineering. At the apex of the army training system is the Command and Staff College at Quetta, one of the few institutions inherited from the colonial period. The college offered a ten-month course in tactics, staff duties, administration, and command functions through the division level.

Students from foreign countries, including the United States, have attended the school but reportedly have been critical of its narrow focus and failure to encourage speculative thinking or to give adequate attention to less glamorous subjects, such as logistics. The Air Force had an advanced technical training facility at Korangi Creek near Karachi for courses in aeronautical engineering, and the Navy's technical training was carried out at Karsaz Naval Station in Karachi.

The senior training institution for all service branches is the National Defence College at Rawalpindi, which was established in 1978 to provide training in higher military strategy for senior officers. It also offers courses that allow civilians to explore the broader aspects of national security. In a program begun in the 1980s to upgrade the intellectual standards of the officer corps and increase awareness of the wider world, a small group of officers, has been detailed to academic training, achieving master's degrees and even doctorates at universities in Pakistan and abroad.

Pakistani officers were sent abroad during the 1950s and into the 1960s for training in Britain and other Commonwealth countries, and especially to the United States, where trainees numbering well in the hundreds attended a full range of institutions ranging from armored and infantry schools to the higher staff and command institutions. After 1961 this training was coordinated under the International Military Education and Training (IMET) program, but numbers varied along with vicissitudes in the United States-Pakistan military relationship. Of some 200 officers being sent abroad annually in the 1980s, over two-thirds went to the United States, but the cessation of United States aid in 1990 entailed suspension of the IMET program. Most foreign training was in Commonwealth countries.

Pay scales and benefits for enlisted personnel are attractive by Pakistani standards. Officer pay is substantially higher, but with inflation and a generally expanding economy, officers find it harder to make do and felt that they are falling well behind their civilian counterparts in the civil service, where salaries are somewhat higher and the opportunities for gain considerably greater.

Retirement is required after 18-30 years service or age 40-52 (as of 2012). The retirement agevaries similarly according to grade. Retirement pay is modest, especially for enlisted men, but the armed services find ways to make the retiree's lot easier. Especially during periods of martial law, retired senior officers found second, financially rewarding careers in government-controlled organizations. Land grants to retired officers had been common, and scholarships and medical care are available on a relatively generous basis. In the event of an officer's death on active duty, certain provisions, including grants of free housing, are often extended to his family.

The Fauji Foundation is a semiautonomous organization run for the benefit of active and, especially, retired military personnel and their families. It engages in a variety of lucrative businesses throughout Pakistan and annually produces a surplus of US$30 million for its beneficiaries. The Baharia Foundation provides a similar service to navy families, as does the Shaheen Foundation to those of the air force.

Join the mailing list