The Heritage

The military was organised on modern lines by the British. Towards the end of the nineteenth century the three armies of the presidencies of Bombay, Calcutta, and Madras were amalgamated and put under the Commander-in-Charge of India. The Indian Navy and the Indian Air Force were organised as independent forces in 1928 and 1933 respectively; much of their expansion took place during World War II. The British emphasised the principle of civilian supremacy over the military and the military’s aloofness from politics. They did not let the nationalist movement in India impair military professionalism and discipline, and the military was kept away from the nationalist struggle. The formation of the Indian National Army by Subbas Chandra Bose and the naval strike of 1946 could not be described as concerted efforts to dislodge the British as these were confined to a section of the armed forces and took place under exceptional circumstances. The armed forces as a whole remained loyal to the government.

A logical follow up to the decision to partition India and establish the independent states of India and Pakistan was the division of the British Indian military. Military personnel were given the option of joining the armed forces of either country, with one exception: no Muslim from the area that became Pakistan could opt for India and a non-Muslim hailing from the area that constituted independent India could not opt for Pakistan. The division of arms, weapons and equipment proved a more complicated affair. However, the whole task was completed in a couple of months.

Despite the vicissitudes of partition, the military in Pakistan reorganised itself quickly. It adopted five major strategies to overcome its initial problems. First, a large number of British officers was retained on contract. Second, competent officers were given accelerated promotions. Some non-commissioned officers were promoted to the commissioned ranks. Third, a large number of released personnel was called back. Suitable personnel of the armies of the princely states that acceded to Pakistan were also absorbed into the Pakistan Army. Fourth, the regiments with common traditions, common class composition and common recruiting areas were amalgamated. Fifth, the gaps were filled by fresh recruitment (Rizvi 1986:30 34). These measures were coupled with continued emphasis on centralisation, hierarchy, discipline, and esprit de corps. Professionalism, training in Pakistan and abroad, and the principle of civilian primacy continued to be the hallmark of its organisation.

The military in Pakistan views itself as the guardian of independence and territorial integrity against external and internal threats. Its training program aims at producing servicemen dedicated to national values and state symbols and who are prepared to make sacrifices for their professional ideals. There is a strong emphasis on the ideological foundation of leadership. Leadership traits as enunciated in Islam are emphasised in the military. These include, inter alia, faith and trust in Allah alone, a firm belief in the basic principles of Islam, piety, humility, honesty, bravery, selflessness, forgiveness, competence and steadfastness. Islamic ideology, values and history constitute an integral part of the training program (Army General Headquarters 1990).