I have seen people say that the Pakistani government is not strong enough because many governmental decisions are taken by the Pakistani army.

Why do the people consider the involvement of the army not good?

  • 15
    You have the tag "democracy" on your question. How can a country be a democracy if all the decisions are made by the army and not the people?
    – yeah22
    Commented Sep 30, 2020 at 6:08
  • @yeah22 - As they claim Pakistan constitutional is a democratic and govt made by people. Thats why I added the tag Commented Sep 30, 2020 at 6:13
  • 6
    Yes, the government should be made by the people, but how can that be done if the army is interfering?
    – yeah22
    Commented Sep 30, 2020 at 6:14
  • 1
    Could you maybe give examples of who the people that says it? E.g. it would differ greatly in the answer if the people are from Europe, India or within Pakistan itself. Commented Sep 30, 2020 at 8:53
  • @DearComrade this is just examples. Maybe the agenda of someone from India is to weaken the army, the agenda of Europeans is they don't understand how necessary it can be to have an army to secure against extreme religious powers in the region and those within Pakistan wants to strengthen Imran Khan. So, in the question, it is important to give examples because there are different answers. Commented Sep 30, 2020 at 9:03

3 Answers 3


Coups by the army - 4 since inception

Wars lost by the army - 4 out of 4, all of which it seems to have instigated.

Budget used by the army -

Accounting for 18.5% of national government expenditure in 2018, after interest payments, Pakistan's military absorbs the largest part of the country's budget.

I kinda recall there was an earthquake in which the 18% of budget did not stretch to much earthquake rescue ops.

More than almost any other case of runaway military spending, the Pakistani public is ill-served by its use of public funds that really should go more to education and economic development in a very poor country.

Not unlike Saudi Arabia, Pakistan's toxic interpretation of Islam (a religion I respect as much as others) is the result of a deliberate choice by the government to back the most intolerant clergy. By Zia ul Haq, a general.

Its belated campaign to limit extremism in the tribal areas, mostly by militants initially abetted and funded by ISI - remember that the Taliban originated from Pakistan in 1994 - is rife with abuse. And it is not above political abductions.

The Pakistani army, before one gets into possible support by ISI to terrorist groups, is a textbook example of regulatory capture. Legislative in this case. It shapes government policies to its end and screw the people.

When the policies are not its liking: coup time!

What it's not very good at: fighting wars.

p.s. to be clear, I also have little respect for India's involvement in these matters, most notably their martial law in Kashmir.

  • 2
    It would be really interesting if you expanded on the concept of regulatory capture and how Pakistan's history of military coups have undermined democracy, and the relationship of the army with Pakistan's current democratic government (through which we have now seen Pakistan's first two successful transfers of power) The remarks on the efficacy of Pakistan's military are irrelevant here and just make your answer look biased, I'd recommend removing them
    – Thymine
    Commented Sep 30, 2020 at 13:51
  • 1
    @Thymine Granted, contempt may not have been the best choice. Nevertheless, your opinion is that their military efficacy is irrelevant. It is not. I am not anti-military and I mean no disrespect to Pakistani soldiers and combat officers, who have little to do with the machinations of high command. They can't be expected to beat India due to its size. But their commanders repeatedly put them in harm's way. To little purpose, except maintaining the army's grip on Pakistani society and military spending. That's an opinion, for sure. Remains to see if the facts contradict it. Commented Sep 30, 2020 at 23:24
  • @ItalianPhilosophers4Monica I think it's irrelevant because even if they instigated 100 important wars and won them all brilliantly it wouldn't justify the military interfering with and influencing the government. So a military's track record is tangential to the question of why people think a government under strong military influence is weak. If you can link the two, for example if you can show that the military keeps losing wars, and after each loss strongarms the government into increasing their budget despite initial opposition, that would make it not only relevant but very interesting.
    – Thymine
    Commented Oct 1, 2020 at 7:49
  • 3
    @Thymine You've made your point repeatedly. While I generally agree with your outlook about keeping neutral I also can't in any way feel any respect for what the Pakistani army, as a political entity, is doing to its country, and I want to express that. The first sufferers are the Pakistani people and it is not good at keeping the country safe. If it were a discussion about say the KKK, you'd presumably not suggest I censure my dislike. Feel free to write your own answer, I'm sure it will be insightful, no sarcasm intended. Done discussing myself, I respectfully agree to disagree Commented Oct 1, 2020 at 16:22

TL;DR: like fire and electricity, the military make good servants but bad masters.

The army is supposed to be the military arm of the government, so it follows that the government should control the army, not the other way around. If the army is calling the shots to the civilian government then the following bad things happen:

  • The senior military will rule in their own best interests. They will find opportunities to make money through corruption and block any checks and balances on their activities.

  • The senior military have not trained or studied for civilian rule. They know little of economics or sociology, and their general experience of formal work-based interaction is of giving and receiving orders. Their understanding of foreign affairs is limited to military matters. As a result they lack the ability to govern effectively.

  • Since the military is the violent part of the state, they will tend to use violence against the people, e.g. by deploying troops against demonstrators.

  • Corruption in the military spreads downwards. The entire officer corps becomes corrupt. Not only is this expensive, it makes them much less effective at actually fighting.

  • Morale in the other ranks is sapped because they see the officers making out like bandits while failing to care for the men under their command.

  • The rest of the government is steadily weakened as the military reinforces its control.

The end point of this process is a kleptocracy: rule by thieves. The fact that the thieves are in uniform and carry guns makes this even worse.

  • They will find opportunities to make money through corruption and block any checks and balances on their activities. --- how about the army taking a share of what politicians are doing?
    – user366312
    Commented Sep 30, 2020 at 23:52
  • 9
    @user366312 in a functioning democracy, there are limits to how far politicians can take corruption before it begins to affect their electoral prospects. In the case of a military junta, corrupt leaders cannot be removed by a mere electoral defeat, only by an armed conflict, and it takes a lot more popular dissatisfaction with a government for this to happen.
    – James_pic
    Commented Oct 1, 2020 at 9:46
  • @James_pic, Firstly, Pakistan is not run by a military Junta. Secondly, Pakistani civilian politicians are corrupt enough to make way for military's support from the general population.
    – user366312
    Commented Oct 1, 2020 at 14:18
  • @user366312 apologies. I did not mean to mis-characterise the governance of Pakistan.
    – James_pic
    Commented Oct 1, 2020 at 14:25

If someone understands the Urdu language, this question was the focus of the interview of PM Imran Khan.

I have seen people say that the Pakistani government is not strong enough because many governmental decisions are taken by the Pakistani army.

Says who?

As far as I observed this narrative is prevalent among:

Group #1. Indian media and the Indian establishment.
Group #2. Pakistani dissidents who are living abroad and cooperating with the Indian establishment.
Group #3. Pakistani opposition who are now ravaged by numerous corruption charges including money laundering, possessing wealth more than income, fake bank accounts, and so on.

I guess, what these people say doesn't hold much water as far as Pakistan is concerned.

Why do the people consider the involvement of the military not good?

According to Western democracy, the military is considered a state institution under the civilian government. According to western democracy, the military is only there to assist the civilian government.

This concept doesn't always work in all parts of the world. Especially, in the poor and corrupt countries, where politicians embezzle/mishandle/mismanage public funds or earn illicit money or acquire wealth by corruption, they seem not to possess the moral authority to lead a highly efficient and professional institution like the military. So, what they do is, they keep the Military weak and in chaos on purpose.

This doesn't work in Pakistan for social, historical, and structural reasons.

Firstly, because of Pakistan's feudal society, the military is a very respected organization. Secondly, because of the asset sharing during the partition of India, the Pakistan Military has been a very powerful organization from the beginning. Thirdly, due to the constant conflict with India, Pakistan's sovereignty depends on a powerful military.

Why do people say the Pakistani government has failed because the military is interfering with politics?

Again, this depends on who is saying.

Group #1 has three problems:

  1. Pakistan was created by splitting India. The split of India is considered a sad history for Hindus living in India. Even to date, there are movements in India called "Akhand Bharat" aiming at the reunification of India. During the independence of India, Hindus wanted to keep the country in one piece because (a) India is considered as a Goddess in Hinduism, (b) they knew that if India exists in one piece, Hindus will always remain as a majority.

Muslims wanted a separate homeland because under British rule Hindus were dominating Muslims and they were either considered as invaders or inferior beings as lower caste Hindus took refuge in Islam to avoid the persecution of upper-caste Hindus.

  1. Pakistan and India have conflicts of interest in the region called Kashmir. Firstly, Kashmir is a disputed territory between Pakistan and India. Secondly, all the important rivers run through Kashmir.
  1. Pakistan doesn't agree with India and the American concept of submitting to India as the leader of South Asia. I.e. a hegemon. The only country that doesn't accept Indian leadership in South Asia is Pakistan. All other countries are either controlled or dominated by India through various techniques including political/military threats or by instating stooge governments.

Therefore, keeping Pakistan weak is one of the tactics India pursues to keep things smooth for them. One of the techniques India use is to talk badly about Pakistan's Military. India knows that Pakistan Amy is the most powerful organization in the country. If the Pakistan Military is kept weak, Pakistan as a country will be automatically kept weak.

So, Pakistan is a violator of the "Rules-based international order". And, the USA is actually helping India to do this.

Here are some Indian threats:

The following are some routine Indian propaganda:

Group #2's problem is they have their own interpretation of an ideal society and state. When they went forward to propagate their ideas, their interests somehow converges with Group#1 as both of the groups want the military under civilian rule. Surprisingly, they don't have anything to say against or don't have any solution to the corruption and mismanagement of the civilian politicians.

Group#3 is the most interesting and contradicting group. Firstly, most of these people came to politics with direct recruitment or backdoor negotiation with the military. Secondly, they are corrupt without any question. Thirdly, unlike other countries, Pakistan's central intelligence is run by the military. As a result, all the information about political corruption first comes to the military. So, when these people talk about democracy and the wellbeing of the country, they sound like a laughing stock.

  • 7
    Your answer relies on discrediting groups of people rather than discrediting their ideas and uses no form of sources. We are supposed to just believe what you say without being shown why you say it. I think it would be much more interesting for you to expand on your central points about how a strong military can be compatible with democracy. For example how high ranking people within the military, who cannot be removed through elections, are less likely to be corrupt than a politician.
    – Thymine
    Commented Oct 1, 2020 at 8:02
  • I am not, and strongly assume Paul Johnson is not, part of the "Indian establishment" or "Pakistani dissidents". Nor do I have much sympathy for India's Kashmir position and especially not for Modi and the BJP. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2002_Gujarat_riots Your answer strongly reminds me of the debating tactics of a certain US politician. What am I is someone concerned at the contentious relations between Muslims and the West, and Pakistan, largely as a result of the actions of its military has been anything but a help in the matter. Commented Oct 1, 2020 at 16:34
  • The one thing I do appreciate from the Pakistani army is their contribution to kicking the Soviets out of Afghanistan, mostly as a deniable arms channel to the Mujahideen. However I also read Ghost Wars and the author repeatedly made the charge that the Pakistanis, as (well-paid) go-betweens who largely decided who got what, prioritized supplies to armed groups, not on the basis of their anti-Soviet efficacy, but on their adherence to fundamentalist religious views. So even then they were playing a double game. Commented Oct 1, 2020 at 16:48
  • What am I is someone concerned at the contentious relations between Muslims and the West, and Pakistan, largely as a result of the actions of its military has been anything but help in the matter. --- I fail to see how this comment is relevant to this question and my answer.
    – user366312
    Commented Oct 1, 2020 at 18:22
  • Your answer strongly reminds me of the debating tactics of a certain US politician. --- doesn't matter. This is the Pakistani point of view and this is the reality in Pakistan, whether you and India like it or not.
    – user366312
    Commented Oct 1, 2020 at 18:23

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