Pakistan Table of Contents
The Indian military had no role in the relinquishment of control by the British and the division of India into two parts-- India and Pakistan. Under their British commanders, the Indian military had resisted the nationalist tide, and then, when London changed its course, Indian military personnel obediently shifted their allegiance to new masters. After partition and independence, the relationship between the military and the new nationalist government in India was at first problematic. India's first prime minister, Jawalharlal Nehru, deliberately limited the expansion and modernization of his country's armed forces, fearing that an excessive emphasis on the military would lead to the militarization of society and undermine the nation's fledgling democratic institutions.
The Pakistani military, however, immediately became a central part of the national consciousness. Unlike their Indian counterparts, Pakistani soldiers did not bear the stigma of being antinational. The main base of army recruitment, Punjab, was at the heart of Pakistan, and the army was immediately called upon to defend the interests of the nation against a perceived security threat from "Hindu India."
The Pakistani army was fortunate in its political position, but less so in regard to the experience and technical expertise required to field an effective military force. Muslims had been significantly underrepresented in the Indian officer corps, and when partition occurred, there was a severe shortage of personnel. To lead the planned army of 150,000 men, 4,000 officers were needed, but there were only 2,500, and many of those, especially in the technical services, were underqualified. Only one major general, two brigadiers, and six colonels were available, and in the middle officer ranks the situation was equally bad. The first two commanders in chief of the army were British. The first Pakistani commander in chief--General Mohammad Ayub Khan--did not become commander in chief of the army until 1951. In the small Pakistani navy and air force, the situation was even worse: there were only nine regular officers in the navy and sixty-five pilots in the air force. Both forces had to be commanded by British officers: the navy until 1953 and the air force until 1957. Overall, some 500 British officers were retained on contract to ease the transition of the armed forces until Pakistanis could be qualified and promoted. In the interim, training underqualified officers for rapid promotion was a matter of top priority.
The lack of equipment presented further problems. Most of the depots and virtually all of the military production facilities were located in areas that became India, which was less than forthcoming in handing over the share of military matériel that was due Pakistan under the partition agreement. Pakistan received little or nothing in the way of ships and only two of the ten squadrons of the former Royal Indian Air Force. Pakistani military historian Fazl Muqeem Khan records: "It is no exaggeration to say that for its first few months the infant state of Pakistan was without an organized army."
Units with a majority of Muslims (as well as individual Muslims in other units who opted for Pakistan) that were located in India had to find their way to Pakistan. These men formed into new units based on common traditions and class affiliation; the remaining service gaps were gradually filled by recruitment. Intercommunal violence at partition took a huge toll of lives, and the role played by the army in protecting the citizens of the new Pakistan created an important initial bond between army and people.
The crucial challenge to the new Pakistani military was the outbreak of hostilities with India over the disputed state of Jammu and Kashmir immediately after partition (see Problems at Independence , ch. 1). Unlike most of the rulers of the other princely states of India, the Hindu ruler of Kashmir (as it is usually called) hesitated in declaring the allegiance of his largely Muslim realm to one or the other of the new nations. Bands of Muslim tribesmen from Pakistan--together with "volunteers" from the Pakistani army--entered the state in early October 1947 to force the issue and, after joining up with insurgents within Kashmir, were soon threatening to overwhelm the Kashmiri forces. As the price for protection, the ruler acceded to India, and elements of the Indian army arrived on October 27. They soon routed the Pakistani irregulars and moved westward to consolidate control over all of the state. Pakistan committed regular military formations to combat in May 1948 to ensure its borders and stabilize the situation. Fighting continued until January 1, 1949, when a United Nations-sponsored cease-fire took effect. The cease-fire did not, however, settle the underlying conflict. The dispute flared up several times again, most notably in 1965, and remained unresolved as of early 1994. The Indian and Pakistani armies remained deployed along much the same line as they had in 1949. The Pakistani army, however, performed credibly in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947-48 and won immense admiration and support among Pakistanis, on which it drew heavily as Pakistan began to pay the price of developing a military capability to offset that of India.
Data as of April 1994
Pakistan Table of Contents