Country Listing

Pakistan Table of Contents




Figure 11. Officer Ranks and Insignia, 1994


Figure 12. Enlisted Ranks and Insignia, 1994

Constitutional Basis and Missions

Article 243 of the 1973 constitution states that the federal government controls the armed forces and gives the president power to raise and maintain active and reserve forces, grant commissions, and appoint the chiefs of staff of the three services (see President , ch. 4). Under Article 242, the president is commander in chief of the armed forces. The original intent was that the president act according to the guidance of the prime minister. However, the Eighth Amendment to the nominally "revived" but fundamentally altered 1973 constitution, promulgated in 1985 by President Zia, specifies in Article 90 that national executive power is vested in the president.

Article 245 prescribes the functions of the armed forces as defense of the nation against external aggression or threat of war and, subject to law, aid-to-the-civil power when called upon. This article is intended to keep the military from acting independently of the elected political leadership in domestic affairs. It was notably unsuccessful in protecting Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto from Zia's demand for "accountability," culminating in Bhutto's trial, conviction, and eventual execution on a charge of conspiring to murder one of his political opponents. Article 244 prescribes the oath taken by the armed forces, including the pledge "not to engage myself in any political activities whatsoever." This requirement is not, however, meant to restrict members of the armed forces from voting.

Article 39 enjoins the state to enable people from all parts of Pakistan to join the armed forces. It does not, however, require proportional representation of provinces, and only modest progress has been made in making the military more geographically representative.

In addition to the constitutionally prescribed missions of defending the country (including protecting the borders and coastline) and continuing the traditional aid-to-the-civil power, the army has an unstated, self-appointed mission of guarding the domestic order--"guardian of the family silver," as Pakistani journalist Mushahid Hussain puts it. It is this concept of its mission that has led the military to assume power on three separate occasions.

The military engages in a broad range of public service and economic activities and plays a leading role in dealing with natural disasters. The army services do not, however, have a record of participating in foreign disaster relief. The army engaged in civic action work in strategically sensitive areas, especially Balochistan, but did not see itself as having a generalized role in civic action and economic development matters that were not directly of its concern. General Waheed even resisted an army role in antinarcotics work, probably fearing its temptation as well as its distraction from the army's primary role as the defender of the country.

Data as of April 1994