Material Benefits to the Military

The military has become a ladder to lucrative jobs after retirement in almost all states that have witnessed the ascendancy of the military to power. Ayub Khan relied on this strategy after assuming power in 1958, and distributed the rewards of power to his colleagues in the military. General Zia ul Haq resorted to this strategy in a more consistent and extensive manner. It was during his rule that the higher echelons of the military emerged as the most privileged caste in Pakistan.

The Zia regime was quite generous towards its colleagues in the three services. The budgetary allocation for the defence services rose at a faster pace than during Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s period from 1972 to 1977. The army, especially its higher echelons, received a number of material benefits such as jobs before and after retirement, absorption in the Fauji Foundation (a welfare cum industrial organisation for the welfare of ex-servicemen), assignment in the Gulf states, allotment of agricultural land, and parcels of land for construction of houses in cantonments and urban centres, along with facilities for loans. A number of officers who had been given residential plots in various housing schemes at cheap rates sold them to civilians at exorbitant prices.

Still another material benefit the Zia regime offered to military personnel was the appointment of military officers to top civil jobs, leading to what Finer (1978: 84) describes as the ‘military colonisation of other institutions’ whereby ‘the military acts as reservoir or core of personnel for the sensitive institutions of the state’. Military officers were assigned to the civil administration and to semi-government and autonomous corporations. A 10 per cent quota of civil jobs was reserved for military personnel and a system of regular induction into the elite group of the Central Superior Services was introduced. The groups most commonly selected for induction included the District Management Group (formerly the CSP), the Foreign Service of Pakistan, and the Police Service of Pakistan. This has caused bitterness among civilian counterparts who joined these services after tough competitive examination.

Such policies have enabled the military to penetrate important civilian sectors and expand their influence in the society. Material gains have also encouraged the senior commanders to maintain interest in politics so as to protect and increase these privileges. This has resulted in what Heeger (1977:242-262) describes as the ‘de-mystification’ of the military. The Pakistan military is no longer considered a neutral power broker among feuding political groups. It is now viewed as one of the contenders for power, a powerful actor deeply entangled in ongoing political controversies.