Military history of Pakistan

Military history of Pakistan
The roots of the Pakistan army traces back to the British Indian Army which included several personnel from present day Pakistan. In picture are troops of the famous Khyber Rifles striking a pose. ~1895.

The military history of Pakistan encompasses an immense panorama of conflicts and struggles extending for more than 2,000 years across areas including modern Pakistan, and the greater Indian subcontinent, although Pakistan as a modern nation-state itself dates only from post 1947.

The military holds a significant place in the history of Pakistan, as the Pakistani Armed Forces have played and still continue to play a vital role in the Pakistani establishment and shaping of the country since its inception. Although Pakistan was founded as a democracy after the independence of the India from British Raj, the military has remained one of the country's most powerful institutions and has on occasion overthrown democratically elected governments on the basis of mismanagement and corruption. Successive governments have made sure that the military was consulted before they took key decisions, especially when those decisions related to the Kashmir Conflict. Political leaders of Pakistan's fragile democracy know that the military has stepped into the political arena before at times of crisis through Coup d'état to establish military dictatorships, and could do so again.[1][2]

The Military was created in 1947 by division of the British Indian Army and was given units who had a long and cherished history during the British Raj such as the Khyber Rifles, and had seen intensive service in World War I and World War II. Many of the early leaders of the military had fought in both world wars.

The military draws on inspiration from the rich combat history that has occurred on Pakistani soil and uses example of sacrifice and perseverance to embolden troops, and has named medals of valor, nickname for combat divisions, and indigenous weapons; Such as the short-range ballistic missiles Ghaznavi, which is named in honour of Mahmud of Ghazna who founded the Ghaznavid Empire, and ruled from 997 to 1030.

Since independence, the military has fought three major wars with India and several minor border skirmishes with Afghanistan. It has also fought a limited conflict at Kargil with India after acquiring nuclear capabilities. After 9/11, the military is engaged in a protracted low intensity conflict along Pakistan's western border with the Taliban and Al-Qaeda militants, as well as those who support or provide shelter to them.

In addition, Pakistani troops have also participated in various foreign conflicts usually acting as United Nations peacekeepers. At present, Pakistan has the largest number of its personnel acting under the United Nations with the number standing at 10,173 as of 31 March 2007.[3]


550 BCE-1857

Ancient empires

A painting by Charles Le Brun depicting Alexander and Porus during the Battle of the Hydaspes near modern-day Jhelum, Punjab.

The region of Pakistan formed the most populous and richest satrapy of the Persian Achaemenid Empire for almost two centuries, starting from the reign of Darius the Great (522-485 BCE).[4] The first major conflict erupted when Alexander the Great overthrew the Achaemenid empire in 334 BCE, and marched eastwards. Eventually, after defeating King Porus in the fierce Battle of the Hydaspes (near modern Jhelum), he conquered much of the Punjab region. But, his battle weary troops refused to advance further into India[5] to engage the formidable army of Nanda Dynasty and its vanguard of trampling elephants, new monstorities to the invaders. Therefore, Alexander proceeded southwest along the Indus valley.[6] Along the way, he engaged in several battles with smaller kingdoms before marching his army westward across the Makran desert towards modern Iran. Alexander founded several new Macedonian/Greek settlements in Gandhara and Punjab.

As Alexander the Great's Greek and Persian armies withdrew westwards, the satraps left behind by Alexander were defeated and conquered by Chandragupta Maurya who founded the Maurya Empire which ruled the region from 321 to 185 BC. The Mauryas Empire was itself conquered by the Sunga Empire which ruled the region from 185 to 73 BCE. Other regions such as the Khyber Pass was left unguarded, and a wave of foreign invasion followed. The Greco-Bactrian king, Demetrius, capitalized and he conquered southern Afghanistan and Pakistan around 180 BC, forming the Indo-Greek Kingdom. The Indo-Greek Kingdom ultimately disappeared as a political entity around 10 AD following the invasions of the Central Asian Indo-Scythians. Their empire morphed into the Kushan Empire who ruled until 375 AD. The region was then conquered by the Persian Indo-Sassanid empire who ruled until 565 AD before the entire Sassanid Empire was conquered by the Arabs including the region of modern Pakistan.

Arab conquests

Muhammad Bin Qasim leading his troops in battle. In Pakistan Studies curriculum, he is often referred to as the first Pakistani.[7]

In 712 CE, a Syrian Muslim chieftain called Muhammad bin Qasim conquered most of the Indus region (stretching from Sindh to Multan) for the Umayyad empire. In 997 CE, Mahmud of Ghazni conquered the bulk of Khorasan, marched on Peshawar in 1005, and followed it by the conquests of Punjab (1007), Balochistan (1011), Kashmir (1015) and Qanoch (1017). By the end of his reign in 1030, Mahmud's empire extended from Kurdistan in the west to the Yamuna river in the east, and the Ghaznavid dynasty lasted until 1187. In 1160, Muhammad Ghori conquered Ghazni from the Ghaznavids and became its governor in 1173. He marched eastwards into the remaining Ghaznavid territory and Gujarat in the 1180s, but was rebuffed by Gujarat's Solanki rulers. In 1186-7, he conquered Lahore, bringing the last of Ghaznevid territory under his control and ending the Ghaznavid empire. Muhammad Ghori returned to Lahore after 1200 to deal with a revolt of the Rajput Ghakkar tribe in the Punjab. He suppressed the revolt, but was killed during a Ghakkar raid on his camp on the Jhelum River in 1206. Muhammad Ghori's successors established the first Indo-Islamic dynasty, the Delhi Sultanate. The Mamluk Dynasty, (mamluk means "slave" and referred to the Turkic slave soldiers who became rulers throughout the Islamic world), seized the throne of the Sultanate in 1211. Several Turko-Afghan dynasties ruled their empires from Delhi: the Mamluk (1211–90), the Khalji (1290–1320), the Tughlaq (1320–1413), the Sayyid (1414–51) and the Lodhi (1451–1526). Although some kingdoms remained independent of Delhi - in Gujarat, Malwa (central India), Bengal and Deccan - almost all of the Indus plain came under the rule of these large Indo-Islamic sultanates. Perhaps the greatest contribution of the sultanate was its temporary success in insulating South Asia from the Mongol invasion from Central Asia in the thirteenth century; nonetheless the sultans eventually lost Afghanistan and western Pakistan to the Mongols (see the Ilkhanate Dynasty).

Mughal Empire

From the 16th to the 19th century CE the formidable Mughal empire covered much of India.[8] In 1739, the Persian emperor Nader Shah invaded India, defeated the Mughal Emperor Muhammed Shah, and occupied most of Balochistan and the Indus plain. After Nadir Shah's death, the kingdom of Afghanistan was established in 1747, by one of his generals, Ahmad Shah Abdali and included Kashmir, Peshawar, Daman, Multan, Sind and Punjab. In the south, a succession of autonomous dynasties (the Daudpotas, Kalhoras and Talpurs) had asserted the independence of Sind, from the end of Aurangzeb's reign. Most of Balochistan came under the influence of the Khan of Kalat, apart from some coastal areas such as Gwadar which were ruled by the Sultan of Oman. The Sikh Confederacy (1748–1799) was a group of small states in the Punjab which emerged in a political vacuum created by rivalry between the Mughals, Afghans and Persians.[9] The Confederacy drove out the Mughals, repelled several Afghan invasions and in 1764 captured Lahore. However after the retreat of Ahmed Shah Abdali, the Confederacy suffered instability as disputes and rivalries emerged.[10] The Sikh empire (1799–1849) was formed on the foundations of the Confederacy by Ranjit Singh who proclaimed himself "Sarkar-i-Wala", and was referred to as the Maharaja of Lahore.[9] His empire eventually extended as far west as the Khyber Pass and as far south as Multan. Amongst his conquests were Kashmir in 1819 and Peshawar in 1834, although the Afghans made two attempts to recover Peshawar. After the Maharaja's death the empire was weakened by internal divisions and political mismanagement. The British annexed the Sikh empire in 1849 after two Anglo-Sikh wars.[11]


British Raj

The British Raj lasted from 1858 to 1947, the period when India was part of the British Empire. After the mutiny, the British took steps to avoid further rebellions taking place including changing the structure of the Army. They banned Indians from the officer corp and artillery corp to ensure that future rebellions would not be as organized and disciplined and that the ratio of British Soldiers to Indians would be drastically increased. Recruiting percentages changed with an emphasis on Sikhs and Ghurkas whose loyalties and fighting prowess had been proven in the conflict and new caste and religious based regiments were formed.

The World wars

Members of the 3rd (Lahore) Division fighting in Flanders 1914-15

During WWI the British Indian Army fought in Egypt, Palestine, Mesopotamia, Gallipoli, and France and suffered very heavy casualties.

The British Indian Army's strength was about 189,000 in 1939. There were about 3,000 British officers and 1,115 Indian officers. The army was expanded greatly to fight in World War II. By 1945, the strength of the Army had risen to about two and a half million. There were about 34,500 British officers and 15,740 Indian officers. The Army took part in campaigns in France, East Africa, North Africa, Syria, Tunisia, Malaya, Burma, Greece, Sicily and Italy. It suffered 179,935 casualties in the war (including killed (24,338), wounded (64,354), missing (11,762) and POW (79,481) soldiers). Many future military officers and leaders of Pakistan fought in these wars.

Birth of the modern Military

On June 3, 1947, the British Government announced its plan to divide British India between India and Pakistan and the subsequent transfer of power to the two countries. The division of the British Indian Army occurred on June 30, 1947 in which Pakistan received six armored, eight artillery and eight infantry regiments compared to the forty armored, forty artillery and twenty one infantry regiments that went to India.[12] The Partition Council which chaired by the Viceroy of India Lord Mountbatten of Burma, the leaders of the Muslim League and the Indian National Congress had agreed that the British Indian Army of 11,800 officers and 500,000 enlisted personnel, be divided to the ratio of 64% for India and 36% for Pakistan.

Pakistan was forced to accept a smaller share of the armed forces as most of the military assets such as weapons depots, military bases were located inside India and those that were in Pakistan were mostly obsolete and it also had a dangerously low ammunition reserve of only one week.[12] By August 15, 1947, both India and Pakistan had operational control over their armed forces.

The Pakistani Armed Forces initially numbered around 150,000 men, many scattered around various bases in India and needing to be transferred to Pakistan by train. The independence created large scale communal violence in the India . Armed bands of militants detained and attacked the trains and massacred Indian military personnel and their families in Pakistan.[13] In total, around 7 million Muslims migrated to Pakistan and 5 million Sikhs and Hindus to India with over a million people dying in the process.

Of the estimated requirement of 4,000 officers for Pakistani Armed Forces, only 2,300 were actually available. The neutral British officers were asked to fill in the gap and nearly 500 volunteered as well as many Polish and Hungarian officers to run the medical corps.[14]

By October 1947, Pakistan had raised four divisions in West Pakistan and one division in East Pakistan with an overall strength of ten infantry brigades and one armored brigade with thirteen tanks. Many brigades and battalions within these divisions were below half strength, but Pakistani personnel continued to arrive from all over India, the Middle East and North Africa and from South East Asia. Mountbatten and Supreme Commander Claude Auchinleck had made it clear to Pakistan that in case of war with India, no other member of the Commonwealth would come to Pakistan's help.


The war of 1947

Area shaded in Green is Pakistani controlled Kashmir and area shaded in Orange is Indian controlled Kashmir and the remainder is under Chinese control.

Pakistan had its first taste of war almost immediately in the First Kashmir War where it sent its forces into Kashmir. Kashmir, had a Muslim majority population, but the choice of which country to join was given to the Maharaja Hari Singh of Kashmir he was not able to decided whether to join India or Pakistan. The newly created Pakistani Army was then sent in disguise to start a Muslim revolt along with Muslim troops from the Jammu and Kashmir State Forces. By late October, the overthrow of the maharaja seemed imminent. He sought military assistance from India, for which he sign an instrument of accession with India.[15] The Army was pushed back by the Indians but not before occupying the northwestern part of Kashmir (roughly 40% of Kashmir) which Pakistan still controls, the rest remaining under Indian control except for the portion ceded by Pakistan to China

U.S. Aid

With the failure of the United States to persuade India to join an anti-communist pact, it turned towards Pakistan which in contrast with India was prepared to join such an alliance in return of military and economic aid and also to find a potential ally against India. By 1954, the Americans had decided that Pakistan along with Turkey and Iran would be ideal countries to counter Soviet influence. Therefore Pakistan and USA signed the Mutual Defense Assistance Agreement and American aid began to flow in Pakistan. This was followed by two more agreements. In 1955, Pakistan joined the South East Asian Treaty Organization (SEATO) and the Baghdad Pact later to be renamed as Central Asian Treaty Organization (CENTO) after Iraq left in 1959.[16]

Pakistan received over a billion dollars in military aid from United States between 1954 and 1965. This aid greatly enhanced Pakistan's defense capability as new equipment and weapons were brought into the armed forces, new military bases were created and existing ones were expanded and upgraded and two new Corps commands were formed. Shahid M Amin, who has previously served in the Pakistani foreign service, writes in his book Pakistan's foreign policy: A reappraisal that "It is also a fact, that these pacts did undoubtedly secure very substantial US military and economic assistance for Pakistan in its nascent years and significantly strengthened it in facing India, as seen in the 1965 war.""[17]

American and British advisers trained Pakistani personnel and the USA was allowed to set up bases within Pakistan's borders to spy on the Soviet Union. In this period, many future Pakistani presidents and generals went to American and British military academies that lead to the development of the Pakistani army on Western models, especially the British one.

After Dominion status ended in 1956 with the formation of a Constitution and a declaration of Pakistan as an Islamic Republic, the military took control in 1958 and held power for more than 10 years. During this time, Pakistan had developed close military relations with many Middle Eastern countries to whom Pakistan sent military advisers and this relationship continues to the present day.

First Military Rule

Since its independence, the democratic system has been disturbed by the Pakistan Army's generals. In 1951, the Military Intelligence foiled a conspiracy against the government of first Prime minister Liaqat Ali Khan. The M.I. under Major-General Syed Shahid Hamid arrested Major-General Akbar Khan, along with other senior officers. Akbar was subsequently court-martialed was relieved from his service. On October 16th of 1951, Liaqat Ali Khan was assassinated by Afghan national Said Akbar, hired by the United States and Pakistan Army. After his death, the political turmoil further destabilized the country. In 1958, retired Major-General and President Iskander Mirza took over the country and deposed the government of Prime minister Feroz Khan Noon, and declared first martial law on October 7, 1958. President Mirza personally appointed his close associate General Ayub Khan as the Commander-in-Chief of Pakistan Army. However, Khan ousted Mirza shortly when he became highly dissatisfied by Mirza's policies. It was said that, at that time when Khan took over the control, Ayub Khan had slapped Mirza and disrespected him and night to pack Mirza off to exile in England. Now as President and Commander-in-Chief Ayub Khan himself appointed him as 5-star Field Marshal and built up the relationship with the United States and the West. A formal alliance including Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, and Turkey was formed and was called the Baghdad Pact (later known as CENTO), which was to defend the Middle East and Persian Gulf from Soviet communists designs. Ayub Khan used ISI and M.I. for the first time to keep an eye on Fatima Jinnah during the 1965 Presidential elections, his son Gohar Ayub Khan played a major and controversial role in elections. Khan also rigged the elections by forcing Election Commission to announced him as a winner.

After the indecisive war of 1965, Pakistani people accused Field Marshal Ayub Khan of betraying the cause of Kashmir and he was forced to resign. In 1967, Munir Ahmad Khan, a nuclear engineer who was the head of Reactor Division at the IAEA, notified Bhutto on the status of Indian nuclear programme. Sensing the seriousness, Bhutto arranged a meeting between Khan and Ayub Khan. However, Ayub Khan deferred to start the nuclear deterrence capability on economic ground bases as he said: "If we [Pakistan] ever need the [atom] bomb, we [Pakistan] will buy it off the shelf". After the meeting, Bhutto remained in touch with Munir Ahmad Khan and began to lobby for the nuclear weapons. Later, Bhutto used Abdus Salam to get the approval of first nuclear power plant, KANUPP-I, from Ayub Khan. This was approved by Ayub Khan against the wishes of his own military government. However, Ayub Khan began to vetoed other proposals made by Abdus Salam to strengthened the nuclear energy programme. After Ayub Khan's departure, Abdus Salam and Munir Ahmad Khan were safely silenced. However, Bhutto continued to maintain relationship with both Munir Khan and Abdus Salam at the mean time.

As Bhutto began lobbying for nuclear development, Ayub Khan immediately removed Bhutto as his Foreign minister as a part of conspiracy, a conspiracy that was planned by Bhutto's rival Jurist Mushtaq Hussain. In return, Bhutto launched a People's Party of Pakistan and tapped a wave of anti-Ayub Khan movement in both West and East Pakistan. Pressured and demoralized, Ayub Khan handed over the control of the country to his younger brother and Commander-in-Chief of Pakistan Army General Yahya Khan in 1969. General Khan, designated himself as Chief Martial Law Administrator, installed a military government with in Pakistan. He also appointed Vice-Admiral Syed Mohammad Ahsan as Martial Law Administrator of East Pakistan. Khans' military government promised to hold on a general election within 2 years.

Yahya Khan presided the country over the disastrous 1971 Winter War which resulted in the Pakistan Armed Forces being forced out of Pakistani politics and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto becoming the new civilian leader of Pakistan following an election.

Border clashes with Afghanistan

Armed tribal incursions from Afghanistan into Pakistan's border areas began with the transfer of power in 1947 and became a continual irritant. Many Pashtun Afghans regarded the 19th century Anglo-Afghan border (historically called the Durand Line) treaties as void and were trying to re-draw the borders with Pakistan or trying to help create an independent state (Pashtunistan) for the ethnic Pashtun people. The Pakistan Army had to be continually sent to secure the country's western borders. Afghan-Pakistan relations were to reach their nadir in 1955 when diplomatic relations were severed with the ransacking of Pakistan's embassy in Kabul and again in 1961 when the Pakistan Army had to repel a major Afghan incursion in Bajaur region.[12]

Pakistan used American weaponry to fight the Afghan incursions but the weaponry had been sold under the pretext of fighting Communism and the USA was not pleased with this development, as the Soviets at that time became the chief benefactor to Afghanistan. Some sections of the American press blamed Pakistan for driving Afghanistan into the Soviet camp.

In retaliation to continuous Pashtun Afghan claims on Northwestern Pakistan, Pakistan's military provided support for the non-Pashtun populations of Afghanistan to re-unite with their ethnic groups who constitute a majority in neighboring countries of Afghanistan which gained independence after the fall of the USSR.

All this changed after the rise of the Taliban movement, which mainly consisted of Pakhtuns. Seeing the Taliban as a tool to maintain stability, Pakistan's military then shifted its support to the Pashtun-dominated Taliban; losing the trust of the non-Pashtun majority which it traditionally supported right until the Soviet-Afghan war era.

Alliance with China

After India's defeat in the Sino-Indian War of 1962, India began a rapid program of reforming and expanding its military. A series of conferences on Kashmir was held from December 1962 to February 1963 between India and Pakistan. Both nations offered important concessions and a solution to the long-standing dispute seemed imminent. However, after the Sino-Indian war, Pakistan had gained an important new ally in China and Pakistan then signed a bilateral border agreement with China that involved the boundaries of the disputed state, and relations with India again became strained.

Fearing a communist expansion into India, the USA for the first time gave large quantities of weapons to India. The expansion of the Indian armed forces was viewed by most Pakistanis as being directed towards Pakistan rather than China. The US also pumped in large sums of money and military supplies to Pakistan as it saw Pakistan as being a check against Soviet expansionist plans.[18]


The war of 1965

In Pakistan, after the Sino-Indian War in 1962, the military of India was seen as being weakened. This analysis was proven true when a small border skirmish occurred between India and Pakistan in the Rann of Kutch on April 1965 where the Indian Army was caught unprepared. The skirmish occurred between the border police of both countries due to poorly defined borders and later the Armies of both countries responded. The result was a decisive one for the Pakistan Army that was praised back home. Emboldened by this success, Operation Gibraltar, a covert infiltration attempt in Kashmir was launched later in the year. The plan was to start a rebellion among local Kashmiris and attack the rebuilding Indian Army thus capturing Kashmir by force, as the Pakistan Army Command believed that it had a qualitative superiority over their neighbours. However this proved over-ambitious as Indian Kashmiris did not support the intruding Pakistan Army and a full-fledged war across the international border (the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965) broke out between India and Pakistan. Pakistan Air Force and Indian Air Force were indulged massive air warfare in this war.[19] Pakistani Army could not achieve the goal of taking over Indian controlled Kashmir while Indian Army failed to fulfill its aspiration of capturing Lahore and Sialkot, while on the offensive both the armies were occupying some of each other's territory resulting in a stalemate.

US had imposed an arms embargo on both India and Pakistan during the war and Pakistan was affected more by the arms embargo as it had no spare parts for its Air Force, tanks, and other equipment while India's quantitative edge making up for theirs. The war was finally ended in a ceasefire.

Rebuilding the Armed Forces

The United States was disillusioned by a war in which both countries fought each other with equipment, which had been sold for defensive purposes and to stop the spread of communism. Pakistan's claims that an Indian attempt to fully integrate Indian Controlled Kashmir into the union of India had compelled it to act fell on deaf ears in the Johnson Administration and by July 1967, the United States withdrew its military assistance advisory group. In response to these events, Pakistan declined to renew the lease on the Peshawar military facility, which ended in 1969. Eventually, United States-Pakistan relations grew measurably weaker as the United States became more deeply involved in Vietnam and as its broader interest in the security of South Asia waned.[20]

The Soviet Union continued the massive build-up of the Indian military and a US arms embargo forced Pakistan to look at other options. It turned to China, North Korea, Germany, Italy and France for military aid. China in particular gave Pakistan over 900 tanks, Mig-19 Fighters and enough equipment to fully equip 3 Infantry divisions. France supplied some Mirage aircraft, submarines and even the Soviet Union gave Pakistan around 100 T-55 tanks, Mi-8 helicopters but that aid was abruptly stopped under intense Indian pressure. Pakistan in this period was partially able to enhance its military capability.

Involvement in Arab conflicts

Russia had sent numerous military advisers to Jordan and Syria to help in their training and military preparations for any potential war with Israel. When the Six Day war started, Russia assisted by sending a contingent of its pilots and airmen to Egypt, Jordan and Syria. PAF pilots performed excellently and downed about 10 Israeli planes including Mirages, Mysteres, Vautours without losing a single plane of their own.[21]

Jordan and Iraq decorated Pakistani Flight Lieutenant Saif-ul-Azam. Israelis praised the performance of PAF pilots too. Eizer Weizman, then Chief Of Israeli Air Force wrote in his autobiography about Air Marshal Noor Khan (Commander PAF at that time): "...He is a formidable person and I am glad that he is Pakistani ..."[22] No Pakistani ground forces participated in the war.

After the end of the Six-Day War, Pakistani advisors had remained in Jordan and were training the Jordanian Forces. In 1970, King Hussein of Jordan decided to remove the PLO and its forces from Jordan by force after a series of terrorist acts attributed to the PLO which undermined Jordanian sovereignty. On September 16, King Hussein declared martial law. The next day, Jordanian tanks attacked the headquarters of Palestinian organizations in Amman. The head of Pakistan's training mission to Jordan, Brigadier-General Zia-ul-Haq (later President of Pakistan), took command of the Jordanian Army's 2nd division and helped Jordan during this crisis.[23]

Pakistan again assisted during the Yom Kippur War, sixteen PAF pilots volunteered for service in the Air Forces of Egypt and Syria. The PAF contingent deployed to Inchas Air Base (Egypt) led by Wing Commander Masood Hatif and five other pilots plus two air defence controllers. During this war, the Syrian government decorated Flight Lieutenant Sattar Alvi when he shot down an Israeli Mirage over the Golan Heights.[24] The PAF pilots then became instructors in the Syrian Air Force at Dumayr Air Base and after the war Pakistan continued to send military advisers to Syria and Jordan. Apart from military advisers, no Pakistani ground forces participated in this war.

In 1969, South Yemen, which was under a communist regime and a strong ally of the USSR, attacked and captured Mount Vadiya inside the province of Sharoora in Saudi Arabia. Many PAF officers as well Army personnel who were serving in Khamis Mushayt training the Saudi Air Force (the closest airbase to the battlefield), took active part in this battle in which the enemy was ultimately driven back.[24]

During the Gulf War in 1990, the Pakistani government joined the international community in condemning the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. Pakistan also joined the Coalition forces to expel Saadam Hussein's forces from Kuwait. However that was not an easy decision as the CoAS of the Pakistani Army was against sending Pakistani soldiers to fight the fellow Muslim nation of Iraq. This caused a rare strain in the relationship between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. Later on, Pakistan agreed to send forces to assist the coalition forces and most of these forces were deployed along the Saudi border with Yemen, which sided with Iraq during the conflict, and Pakistani forces were also stationed around various religious sites throughout Saudi Arabia. Pakistan suffered no casualties in the conflict and later joined the UN in rebuilding Kuwait's destroyed infrastructure.

The war of 1971

The General elections were held in 1970, with People's Party wining the majority in West-Pakistan and People's League gaining absolute majority in East-Pakistan. Yahya Khan, Chief Martial Law Administrator of Pakistan, held talks with both Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Sheikh Mujibur Rehman. Talks were failed, and Bhutto was famously heard saying "break the legs" if any member of [People's Party] attend the inaugural session at the National Assembly. Fearing on capitalization on West Pakistan, West-Pakistanis fears of East Pakistani separatist, and Bhutto demanded to form a coalition with Mujib. Both Mujib and Bhutto were agreed upon the coalition government, with Bhutto as President and Mujib as Prime minister. The Military government and General Yahya Khan was kept unaware of such of these developments. Both Bhutto and Mujib continued a political pressure on Khan's military government. Pressured by his own military government, General Yahya Khan postponed the inaugural session, and ordered to arrest Mujib and put Bhutto on house arrest. Military Police subsequently arrested Bhutto and put him on house arrest, and Mujib was sent to military court where his case was headed by Judge Advocate General Branch's Brigadier-General Rahimuddin Khan.

Faced with popular unrest and revolt in East-Pakistan, the Army and Navy clamped down through violence. The Military government of General Yahya Khan ordered Rear-Admiral Mohammad Shariff, Commander of Eastern Naval Command of the Pakistan Navy, and Lieutenant-General Amir Abdullah Khan Nazi, Commander of the Eastern Military Command of Pakistan Army, to curbed and liberate East Pakistan from the resistance. The navy and army crackdown and brutalities during the Operation Searchlight and Operation Barisal and the continued killings throughout the later months resulted in further resentment among the East Pakistanis of East Pakistan. With India assisting the Mukti Bahini, war broke out between the separatist supporters in Bangladesh and Pakistan (Indo-Pakistani War of 1971). During the conflict, the coordination between the armed forces of Pakistan were ineffective and unsupported. On major decision, the army, navy, marines and air force weren't taken on confidence. Each forces had led their own independent operations without notifying or taking on confidence the higher command.

The result was the Pakistan Armed Forces's surrender to the Indian forces upon which 93,000 Pakistan Armed Forces officials and 93,000 soldiers and officers became POWs, the largest since World War II. The official war between India and Pakistan ended in just a fortnight on December 16, 1971, with Pakistan losing East Pakistan which became Bangladesh. The official Bangladesh Government claim puts the number of Bengali civilian fatalities at 3 million.

Recovery from the 1971 War

The Military government was collapsed as a result of the war, and the control of the country was handed over to the Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. Bhutto became country's first Chief Martial Law Administrator as well as first Commander-in-Chief of Pakistan Armed Forces. As becoming the leader of his country in January of 1972, Bhutto made his move and started the nuclear deterrence programme under Munir Ahmad Khan and his adviser Abdus Salam. In July of 1972, Bhutto proceeded the Shimla Agreement with Indira Gandhi of India, and brought back 93,000 Pakistan Armed Forces personnel and recognized East-Pakistan as Bangladesh.

As part of re-organizing the country, Bhutto first disbanded the "Commander-in-Chief" title in the Pakistan Armed Forces. He also decommissioned the Pakistan Marines as a unit of Pakistan Navy. Instead, Chiefs of Staff were appointed in the three branches and Bhutto appointed all 4 star officers as the Chief of Staff in the Pakistan Armed Forces. General Tikka Khan, infamous for his role in Bangladesh Liberation War, become the first Chief of Army Staff of Pakistan Army; Admiral Mohammad Shariff, as first 4-star admiral in the navy and as the first Chief of Naval Staff of Pakistan Navy; and, Air Chief Marshal (General) Zulfiqar Ali Khan, as first 4-star air force general, and the first Chief of Air Staff of Pakistan Air Force. Because the coordination between the armed forces were unsupported and ineffective, in 1976, Bhutto also created the office of Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee for maintaining the coordination between the armed forces. General Muhammad Shariff, a 4-star general, was made its first Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee.

Pakistan's defense spending rose by 200% during the Bhutto's democratic era but the military balance between India-Pakistan which was at a rough parity during the 1960s was growing decisively in India's favor. Under Bhutto, the education system, foreign policy, and science policy was rapidly changed. Under Bhutto's government, the funding of science was exponentially increased; Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission's and Kahuta Research Laboratories's classified projects were launched under Bhutto. Bhutto also funded the classified military science and engineering projects, entrusted and led by Lieutenant-General Zahid Ali Akbar of the Pakistan Army Corps of Engineers.

The United States once again became a major source for military hardware following the lifting of the arms embargo in 1975 but by then Pakistan had become heavily dependent on China as an arms supplier. Heavy spending on defense re-energized the Army, which had sunk to its lowest morale following the debacle of the 1971 war. The high defense expenditure took money from other development projects such as education, health care and housing.

Baloch Nationalist uprisings

The Baloch rebellion of the 1970s, was the most threatening civil disorder to a United Pakistan since Bangladesh's secession. The Pakistan Armed Forces wanted to establish military garrisons in Balochistan Province which at that time was quite lawless and run by tribal justice. The ethnic Balochis saw this as a violation of their territorial rights. Emboldened by the stand taken by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in 1971, the Baloch and Pashtun nationalists had also demanded their "provincial rights" from then Prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in exchange for a consensual approval of the Pakistan Constitution of 1973. But while Bhutto admitted the NWFP and Balochistan to a NAP-JUI coalition, he refused to negotiate with the provincial governments led by chief minister Ataullah Mengal in Quetta and Mufti Mahmud in Peshawar. Tensions erupted and an armed resistance began to take place.

Surveying the political instability, Bhutto's central government sacked two provincial governments within six months, arrested the two chief ministers, two governors and forty-four MNAs and MPAs, obtained an order from the Supreme Court banning the NAP and charged them all with high treason , to be tried by a specially constituted Hyderabad Tribunal of handpicked judges.

In time, the Baloch nationalist insurgency erupted and sucked the armed forces into the province, pitting the Baloch tribal middle classes against Islamabad. The sporadic fighting between the insurgency and the army started in 1973 with the largest confrontation taking place in September 1974 when around 15,000 Balochs fought the Pakistani Army, Navy and the Air Force. Following the successful recovery of the ammunition in the Iraqi embassy, shipped by both Iraq and Soviet Union for the Baluchistan resistance. The Naval Intelligence launched the investigation, and cited that arms were smuggled from the coastal areas of Balochistan. The Navy acted immediately, and jumped in the conflict. Vice-Admiral Patrick Simpson, commander of Southern Naval Command, began to launched the series of operation with also applying the naval blockage.

The Iranian military fearing a spread of the greater Baloch resistance in Iran also aided the Bhutto-sent Pakistan military in brutally putting down the insurrection.[25] After three days of fighting the Baloch tribals were running out of ammunition and so withdrew by 1976. The army had suffered 25 fatalities and around 300 casualties in the fight while the rebels lost 5,000 people as of 1977.

Although major fighting had broken down, ideological schisms caused splinter groups to form and steadily gain momentum. Despite the overthrow of the Bhutto government in 1977 by General Zia-ul-Haque, Chief of Army Staff of Pakistan Army, calls for secession and widespread civil disobedience remained. The military government then appointed General Rahimuddin Khan as Martial Law Administrator over the Balochistan Province. The provincial military government under the famously authoritarian General Rahimuddin began to act as a separate entity and military regime independent of the central government.

This allowed General Rahimuddin Khan to act as an absolute Martial Law Administrator, unanswerable to the central government. Both General Zia-ul-Haq and General Rahimuddin Khan supported the declaration of a general amnesty in Balochistan to those willing to give up arms. General Rahimuddin then purposefully isolated feudal leaders such as Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti and Ataullah Mengal from provincial policy. He also militarily put down all civil disobedience movements, effectively leading to unprecedented social stability within the province. Due to Martial Law, his reign was the longest in the history of Balochistan (1977–1984).

Tensions have resurfaced recently in the province with the Pakistan Army being involved in attacks against an insurgency known as the Balochistan Liberation Army. Attempted uprisings have taken place as recently as 2005.[26]

Second Military Rule

During the 1977 elections, there were rumors of wide spread voter fraud and as such the civilian government under Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was overthrown in a bloodless coup of July 1977 (See Operation Fair Play) and the new ruler and Bhutto's own appointed Chief of Army Staff General Zia-ul-Haq became Chief Martial Law Administrator in 1978. General Zia-ul-Haq was appointed by this position by Bhutto after Bhutto forced seventeen senior general officers to retire from the army. General Zia appointed Mushtaq Hussain, chief jurist for Bhutto's case. Mushtaq Hussain was famously known in the public as extreme hater of Bhutto, and played a controversial role in Bhutto's removal as Foreign minister in 1965. Mushtaq Hussain, now judge, disrespected Bhutto and his hometown, and further denied any appeals. Under Zia's direction and Mushtaq's order, Bhutto was controversially executed in 1979 after the Supreme Court upheld the High Court's death sentence on charges of authorizing the murder of a political opponent.[27] Under Zia's Martial Law military dictatorship (which was declared legal under the Doctrine of Necessity by the Supreme Court in 1978) the following initiatives were taken:

  • Strict Islamic law was introduced into the country's legal system by 1978, contributing to current-day sectarianism and religious fundamentalism, as well as instilling a sense of religious purpose within the youth.
  • Pakistan fought a war by proxy against the Communists in Afghanistan in the Soviet-Afghan War, greatly contributing to the eventual withdrawal of Soviet forces from Afghanistan.
  • Secessionist uprisings in Balochistan were put down by the province's authoritarian Martial Law ruler, General Rahimuddin Khan, who ruled for an unprecedented seven years under Martial Law.
  • The socialist economic policies of the previous civilian government, which also included aggressive nationalisation, were gradually reversed; and Pakistan's Gross National Product rose greatly.

General Zia lifted Martial Law in 1985, holding party-less elections and handpicking Muhammad Khan Junejo to be the Prime Minister of Pakistan, who in turn rubber-stamped Zia remaining Chief of Army Staff until 1990. Junejo however gradually fell out with Zia as his political and administrative independence grew. Junejo also signed the Geneva Accord, which Zia greatly disliked. After a large-scale explosion at a munitions store in Ojhri, Junejo vowed to bring those responsible for the significant damage caused to justice, implicating several times the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Director-General Akhtar Abdur Rahman.

President Zia, infuriated, dismissed the Junejo government on several charges in May 1988. He then called for the holding of fresh elections in November. General Zia-ul-Haq never saw the elections materialize however, as he died in a plane crash on August 17, 1988, which was later proven to be highly sophisticated sabotage by unknown perpetrators.

Under Zia, real defence spending increased on average by 9 percent per annum during 1977-88 while development spending rose 3 percent per annum; by 1987-88 defence spending had overtaken development spending. For 1980s as a whole, defence spending averaged 6.5 percent of GDP. This contributed strongly to large fiscal deficits and a rapid build up of public debt.[28]


Development of nuclear weapons

Soon after Bhutto came to assumed the control of Pakistan, Bhutto made his move to established the nuclear weapons development.[29] In January 20th of 1972, Abdus Salam, after being request by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, arranged and managed secret meeting of academic scientists and engineers, in Multan city, to meet with Zulfikar Ali Bhutto who assumed the control of his country shortly after the Indo-Pakistani war of 1971 and the Bangladesh Liberation War.[30] It was here that Bhutto orchestrated, administrated, and led the scientific research on nuclear weapons as he announced the official nuclear weapons development programme.[30] In 1972, Pakistan's core intelligence service, the ISI, secretly learned that India was close to developing an atomic bomb, under its [India] nuclear programme.[29] Partially in response, defence expenditure and funding of science under then-Prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto increased by 200%.[29] In the initial years and starting years, Dr. Abdus Salam, a Nobel laureate, headed the nuclear weapons program as he was the Science adviser to the Prime minister.[31] He is also credited in bringing hundreds of Pakistani scientists, engineers, and mathematicians who would later go on to develop the nuclear weapons program and later on formed and headed "Theoretical Physics Group" (TPG), the special weapons division of Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) that developed the designs and completed the crucial mathematical and physics calculations of the nuclear weapons.[32]

Throughout the time, the foundations were laid down to develop a military nuclear capability. This includes the nuclear fuel cycle and nuclear weapons design, development and testing programme.[33] The fuel cycle program included the uranium exploration, mining, refining, conversion and Uranium Hexafluoride (UF6) production, enrichment and fuel fabrication and reprocessing facilities. These facilities were established in the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission or PAEC by its Chairman Munir Ahmad Khan.[33] He was appointed as Chairman of Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) on January 20, 1972 at the Multan Conference of senior scientists and engineers.[33] Earlier, Munir Ahmad Khan was serving as Director of Nuclear Power and Reactors Division, IAEA. He was credited to be the "technical father" of Pakistan's atom project by a recent International Institute of Strategic Studies, London, (IISS) Dossier on history of the Pakistan's nuclear development, with Zulfikar Ali Bhutto as the father of Pakistan's nuclear developmental programme.[34] Munir Ahmad Khan, an expert in Plutonium technology, had also laid the foundation and groundbreaking work for the Plutonium reprocessing technology.[33] Khan, built the New Laboratories, a plutonium reprocessing plant located in Islamabad.[33]

After Chief Martial Law Administrator (later President) and Chief of Army Staff General Zia-ul-Haq came to power (see Operation Fair Play), further advancements were made to enrich uranium and consolidate the nuclear development programme. On March 11, 1983, PAEC under Munir Ahmad Khan carried out the first successful cold test of a working nuclear device near at the Kirana Hills under codename Kirana-I.[33] The test was led by CERN-physicist Dr. Ishfaq Ahmad, and was witnessed by other senior scientists belonging to Pakistan Armed Forces and the PAEC. To compound further matters, the Soviet Union had withdrawn from Afghanistan and the strategic importance of Pakistan to the United States was gone. Once the full extent of Pakistan's nuclear weapons development was revealed, economic sanctions (see Pressler amendment) were imposed on the country by several other countries, particularly United States. Having been developed under both Bhutto and Zia, the nuclear development programme had fully matured by the late 1980s. Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan, a metallurgical engineer, greatly contributed to the uranium enrichment programme under both governments. Dr. A.Q. Khan established an administrative proliferation network through Dubai to smuggle URENCO nuclear technology to Khan Research Laboratories.[35] He then established Pakistan's gas-centrifuge program based on the URENCO's Zippe-type centrifuge.[36][37][38][39][40] Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan is considered to be the founder of Pakistan's HEU based gas-centrifuge uranium enrichment programme[34], which was originally launched by PAEC in 1974.[41]

The PAEC also played its part in the success and development of the uranium enrichment programme by producing the uranium hexafluoride gas feedstock for enrichment. PAEC was also responsible for all the pre and post enrichment phases of the nuclear fuel cycle. By 1986 PAEC Chairman Munir Ahmad Khan had begun work on the 50MW plutonium and tritium production reactor at Khushab, known as Khushab Reactor Complex, which became operational by 1998. After India, by the order of the Indian Premier Atal Vajpayee, successfully tested five underground nuclear tests (codename Pokharan-II) in Pokhran region in 1998. Pakistan, under Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, to the distaste of the international community, successfully carried out six underground in Ras Koh region of the Chagai Hills on nuclear tests on May 28 (codename Chagai-I) and on Kharan region (codename Chagai-II) on May 30th, proving Pakistan's nuclear capability. These tests were carried out by the supervision of the PAEC. These tests were supervised and observed by physicist Dr. Samar Mubarakmand and other senior academic scientists from PAEC and the KRL.

U.S. sanctions

U.S. Senator Pressler, introduced the Pressler Amendment which imposed an embargo on all economical and military aid to Pakistan for developing nuclear weapons.[42] This whole episode caused very negative publicity in Pakistan towards the USA as many people in Pakistan as well as the Pakistani Armed Forces believed they had risked a great deal in helping the USA give the Soviet Union its own Vietnam in Afghanistan and when the task was done, Pakistan was promptly abandoned.[43] Pakistan was hosting a very large Afghan refugee population and drugs from Afghanistan had infiltrated Pakistan and the use of heroin was growing to be a very widespread problem that further compounded the situation.

The embargo continued for five years and in 1995, the Brown Amendment authorised a one-time delivery of US military equipment, contracted for prior to October 1990, worth US$368 million. However, the additional 28 F-16 aircraft costing US$658 million and already paid for by Pakistan were not delivered. Unable to purchase American or NATO weaponry, Pakistan tried to develop an indigenous weapons industry, which has yielded some successes such as the development of the Al-Khalid Tank and JF-17 Strike Fighter.

Soviet-Afghan war

Mujahideen gather outside a Soviet garrison, preparing for to launch a mortar attack.

During the Soviet occupation of neighbouring Afghanistan, the alliance between USA and Pakistan was greatly strengthened as the USA needed Pakistan as a staging area from which to send weapons to the Mujahideens who were fighting the Soviets. Apprehensive of the threats on two front to Pakistan from India and from Soviet occupied Afghanistan, the USA in 1981 offered a military aid package of over $1.5 billion which included 40 F-16 fighters, 100 M-48 tanks, nearly 200 artillery guns and over 1,000 TOW anti-tank missiles which considerably enhanced Pakistan's defence capability. During the course of the war, Pakistan experienced several air intrusions by Afghan/Soviet pilots and claims to shooting down about 8 Afghan/Soviet aircraft over the years as well as losing one F-16 from its own fleet.[21]

The Pakistani Military, aided by the United States and financed by Saudi Arabia, began helping the Mujahideen in setting up training camps and arming them. United States President Jimmy Carter had accepted the view that Soviet aggression could not be viewed as an isolated event of limited geographical importance but had to be contested as a potential threat to the Persian Gulf region. The uncertain scope of the final objective of Moscow in its sudden southward plunge made the American stake in an independent Pakistan all the more important.

Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence and Special Service Group now became actively involved in the conflict against the Soviets. Pakistan's SSG created a unit called the Black Storks who were SSG men dressed as Afghan Mujahideen during the Soviet-Afghan war. They were then flown into Afghanistan and provided the Mujahideen with support. After Ronald Reagan became the new United States President in 1980, aid for the Mujahideen through Zia's Pakistan significantly increased. In retaliation, the KHAD, under Afghan leader Mohammad Najibullah, carried out (according to the Mitrokhin archives and other sources) a large number of terrorist operations against Pakistan, which also suffered from an influx of weaponry and drugs from Afghanistan. Pakistan also took in 3 million Afghan refugees (mostly Pashtun) who were forced to leave their country due to heavy fighting including genocide by the communist forces of Soviet Union. Although the refugees were controlled within Pakistan's largest province, Balochistan, then under martial law ruler General Rahimuddin Khan, the influx of so many refugees - believed to be the largest refugee population in the world[44] - into several other regions had a heavy impact on Pakistan and its effects continue to this day.

PLO and Lebanese weapons captured by the Israelis in their invasion of Lebanon in June 1982 were of Soviet origin and were then covertly transferred into Afghanistan through Pakistan. Later, when American support for the Mujahideen became obvious, Stinger Missiles and other high-technology American weaponry were transferred through Pakistan into Afghanistan. However some of these weapons may have been siphoned off by the ISI for reverse engineering purposes. The arrival of the new high-technology weaponry proved to be quite helpful in organizing stiff resistance against the Soviet Union. Many Army regulars fought in Afghanistan along with the resistance and were partly instrumental in the withdrawal of Soviet forces from Afghanistan in 1989.

Taliban takeover of Afghanistan

After the Soviet withdrawal, Pakistan for the first time since 1947, was not concerned about a threat on two fronts. Further, the emergence of five independent Muslim republics in Central Asia raised hopes that they might become allies and offer Pakistan both the political support and the strategic depth it lacked. As long as Afghanistan was in chaos, Pakistan would lack direct access to the new republics.

Fighting between the Communist government in Kabul and the Mujahideen forces continued until 1992 when the Mujahideen forces, led by Ahmed Shah Massoud, removed the Soviet-backed government of Mohammad Najibullah. By 1993, the rival factions who were vying for power agreed on the formation of a government with Burhanuddin Rabbani as president, but infighting continued. Lawlessness was rampant and became a major hindrance to trade between Pakistan and the newly independent Central Asian states. Pakistan appointed the Taliban to protect its trade convoys because most of the Taliban were Pashtun and were trained by the ISI and CIA in the 1980s and could be trusted by Pakistan.[45] With Pakistan's backing, the Taliban emerged as one of the strongest factions in Afghanistan. Pakistan then decided to the end the infighting in Afghanistan and backed the Taliban in their takeover of Afghanistan to bring stability to its western border and establish a pro-Pakistan regime in Kabul.

Pakistan solicited funds for the Taliban, bankrolled Taliban operations, providing diplomatic support as the Taliban's virtual emissaries abroad, arranged training for Taliban fighters, recruited skilled and unskilled manpower to serve in Taliban armies, planned and directed offensives, providing and facilitating shipments of ammunition and fuel, and on several occasions senior Pakistani military and intelligence officers help planned and execute major military operations.[46] By September 1996, the Taliban under the leadership of Mullah Muhammad Omar seized control of Kabul. However, the stability in Afghanistan led to Osama bin Laden and Zawahiri to come to Afghanistan which caused the Taliban to implement a very strict interpretation of Islamic law. The Taliban continued to capture more Afghan territory until by 2001 they controlled 90% of the country.[45]

Siachen Glacier

After the 1971 war, another border flare-up occurred between India and Pakistan in 1984. The area of the dispute was the Siachen Glacier - the world's highest battlefield. The Glacier was under territorial dispute, but in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Pakistan began organizing several tourist expeditions to the Glacier. India, irked by this development, mounted Operation Meghdoot, and captured the top of the Glacier by establishing a military base which it still maintains to this day at a cost of more than US$1 million per day.[47] Pakistan on the other hand spends just under US$1 million per day, though as a percentage of GDP Pakistan spends 5 times as the Indian Military does to maintain its share of the glacier.[48] Pakistan tried in 1987 and in 1989 to retake the whole Glacier but was unsuccessful.

The Pakistanis control the glacial valley just five kilometers southwest of Gyong La. The Pakistani Army has been unable get up to the crest of the Saltoro Ridge, while the Indians cannot come down and abandon their strategic high posts.

The line between where Indian and Pakistani troops are presently holding onto their respective posts is being increasingly referred to as the Actual Ground Position Line (AGPL).[49][50]

Kargil War

After the failure of the 1989 attempt to re-take the glacier, a new and much more daring plan was developed by the Pakistan Army to re-take the glacier by blocking the Indian supplies reaching the Indian base at the top of the glacier. The plan was ready in the late 1980s but was put on hold due to the fear that this operation could lead to an all out war with India. Pakistan had recently been placed under US military sanctions for developing Nuclear weapons and the Pakistani military hierarchy believed that they did not have the proper military deterrent if the situation escalated into an all out war with India.

In the winter of 1998, a modified version of the plan was approved due to the fact that months earlier both India and Pakistan had conducted nuclear tests. Pakistan believed that it now had a deterrent to prevent all out war with India and believed that once it had taken the Kargil hills, the international community, fearing a nuclear war, would urge a secession of hostilities. Pakistan would emerge with an improved tactical advantage along the LOC and bring the Siachen Glacier conflict to the forefront of international resolution.

Some elements of the Pakistani SSG Commandos, Northern Light Infantry Forces as well as Indian Kashmiri militants planned to take over the abandoned Indian bunkers on various hills that overlooked the vital Srinagar-Leh highway that serviced the logistics base from which supplies were ferried through helicopter to the Indian Army at the top of the Siachen Glacier. The Indian Army routinely abandoned the bunkers in the winter due to the cold and snow and re-occupied them in the spring.

The Pakistani backed forces took over the bunker complex around April and May 1999 but the winter snows had melted earlier than usual and an Indian reconnaissance team which was sent to inspect the bunkers was wiped out by them. The Indian Army, alerted to the presence of these militants, responded quickly, forcefully and massed a huge force of around 30,000 men to re-take the Kargil hills. The Pakistani backed forces were detected very early in the operation and were not adequately prepared as they still needed another month or so before they properly established themselves on the Kargil hills, as they were short on heavy weaponry, ammunition, food, shelter, and medicine.

Faced with the possibility of international isolation, the already fragile Pakistani economy was weakened further.[51][52] The morale of Pakistani forces after the withdrawal declined as many units of the Northern Light Infantry suffered heavy casualties.[53][54] The government refused to accept the dead bodies of many officers,[55][56] an issue that provoked outrage and protests in the Northern Areas.[57][58] Pakistan initially did not acknowledge many of its casualties, but Sharif later said that over 4,000 Pakistani troops were killed in the operation and that Pakistan had lost the conflict.[59]although this was never proven the figure is agrred upon at over 500. after the war indian media started pointing fingers at the army that pakistan still controls point 5353 in drass sector in kargil which gives it a great strategic view of the drass road. the indian army has not been able to refute these claims leading to believe that pakistan gained territory in kargil war. the point 5353 is very near the tiger hill and is considered the highest peak in kargil. tiger hill is also referred to as point 5353. this gave pakistan a huge strategic advantage.


Third Military Rule

See: 1999 Pakistani coup d'état
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Navy Adm. Mike Mullen reviews Pakistani troops during a ceremony honoring Mullen's arrival to Islamabad, Pakistan, Feb. 9, 2008. Mullen is visiting the country to discuss security issues with Pakistani military officials. Since 9/11, Pakistan and USA have established close military ties.

Many people in Pakistan blamed Sharif for retreating from Kargil under American pressure. Growing fiscal deficits and debt-service payments mainly due to American sanctions after Pakistan tested its Nuclear Weapons in May 1998 as a response to India had led to a financial crisis. When asked about his reason for backing down from Kargil, Sharif said that Pakistan had only enough fuel and ammunition for 3 days and the nuclear missiles were not ready at that time. This comment made many Pakistanis brand Nawaz Sharif a traitor as Army doctrine called for having at least 45 days of fuel and ammunition and to have stand by nuclear missiles ready.

Fearing that the Army might take over, Sharif attempted to dismiss his own appointed Chief of Army Staff and Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Pervez Musharraf and install an ISI director-general Lieutenant-General Ziauddin Butt as Chief of Army Staff. General Musharraf, who was out of the country, boarded a commercial flight to return to Pakistan. Senior Army generals refused to accept Musharraf's dismissal. Sharif ordered the Karachi airport to prevent the landing of the airline, which then circled the skies over Karachi. In a coup d'état, the generals ousted Sharif's administration and took over the airport. The plane landed with only a few minutes of fuel to spare, and Musharraf assumed control of the government. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was put under house arrest and later exiled.

The coup d'état in Pakistan was condemned by most world leaders but was mostly supported by Pakistani populace.[60] The new military government of Pervez Musharraf was heavily criticized in the United States, Saudia Arabia, United Kingdom and when President Bill Clinton went on his landmark trip to South Asia, he only made a last minute stop in Pakistan for a few hours but spent more than five days touring and visiting India.[61] Pakistan was also suspended from the Commonwealth Natioansl while Musharraf pledged to clean corruption out of politics and stabilize the economy.

On 18 August 2008, General Pervez Musharraf resigned from the post of President under impeachment pressure from the coalition government. Consequently, his website was removed since he was no longer President. He was succeeded on 6 September 2008 by Asif Ali Zardari, duly elected as Pakistan's 11th President since 1956.[62][63][64]

Standoff with India

In response to a militant attack on the Indian Parliament on December 13, 2001 during which fourteen people, including the five men who attacked the building, were killed. India claimed that the attacks were carried out by two Pakistan based militant groups fighting Indian rule in Kashmir, Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), both of whom, were backed by Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) agency,[65] a charge Pakistan denied. This led to a military standoff between India and Pakistan that resulted in the amassing of troops on either side of the International Border (IB) and along the Line of Control (LoC) in the region of Kashmir. In the Western media, coverage of the standoff focused on the possibility of a nuclear war between the two countries and the implications of the potential conflict on the United States-led War on Terrorism. Tensions de-escalated following international diplomatic mediation which resulted in the October 2002 withdrawal of Indian[66] and Pakistani troops[67] from the International Border.

Military assistance to Sri Lanka

Pakistan and Sri Lanka enjoy a strong relationship and Pakistan International Airlines planes ferrying Pakistan Army reinforcements to East Pakistan, now Bangladesh, refueled in Colombo after India denied Pakistan overflight permissions before the actual outbreak of the Indo-Pakistan war of 1971. Pakistan has sent military advisers, ammunition and other equipment to Sri Lanka during previous offensives against the LTTE. Many Sri Lankan officers are trained in Pakistan. Pakistan, by supplying high-tech military equipment such as 22 Al-Khalid main battle tanks, 250,000 rounds of 60 mm, 81 mm, 120 mm and 130 mm mortar ammunition worth and 150,000 hand grenades and along with positioning of some of its highly trained army officers in Sri Lanka, played a key role in the ultimate defeat of Tamil Tigers in May 2009.[68] Back in 2000, when a LTTE offensive code-named Operation Ceaseless Waves overran Sri Lankan military positions in the north and captured the Elephant Pass Base and entered Jaffna, and it was being feared that the LTTE would run down thousands of Sri Lankan troops stationed in Jaffna, Pakistan supplied Multi-Barrel Rocket Launcher System and other high tech weaponry which halted the offensive.[68]

War in the North-West region

View of the hotel after the attack in Islamabad, Pakistan. The bombing was called Pakistan's 9/11.

After the 9/11 attacks, Pakistan joined the US-led War on Terror and helped the U.S. Military by severing ties with the Taliban and immediately deploying more than 72,000 troops along Pakistan's western border to capture or kill Taliban and al-Qaida militants fleeing from Afghanistan.

Pakistan initially garrisoned its troops in military bases and forts in the tribal areas. After several high profile terrorist attacks inside Pakistan and assassination attempts on Pervez Musharraf that Pakistan in May 2004. As Chief of Army Staff, General Pervez Musharraf ordered XII Corps and XI Corps to be stationed in FATA region and take forceful action against al-Qaeda members in Pakistan's mountainous Waziristan area (in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas) which escalated into armed resistance by local tribesmen. On March of 2004, a battle began to take place in Wana, South Waziristan. It was reported that Al-Qaeda's second-in-command dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri was among with these fighters. Pakistan responded to deploy its 10th Mountaineering Division under Major-General Noel Israel. After a week of fighting, the army suffered a major casualties with hundreds of fighters being captured. However, army was unable to Ayman al-Zawahiri as he either escaped or was never among these fighters.

Clashes erupted between the Pakistani troops and al-Qaeda's and other militants joined by local rebels and pro-Taliban forces. The Pakistani actions were presented as a part of the War on Terrorism, and had connections to the war and Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan.[69][70] However, the offensive was poorly coordinated and the Pakistani Army suffered heavy casualties as well public support for the attack quickly evaporated.

After a 2 year conflict from 2004 till 2006, the Pakistani military negotiated a ceasefire with the Tribesmen from the region in which they pledged to hunt down al-Qaeda members, stop the Talibanization of the region and stop attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan. However, the militants did not hold up their end of the bargain and began to regroup and rebuild their strength from the previous 2 years of conflict.

The militants emboldened by their success in FATA moved into Islamabad where they sought to impose an extremist Sharia government on Pakistan. Their base of operations was the Lal Masjid in Islamabad. After a 6 month standoff fighting erupted again in July 2007 when the Pakistani Military decided to use force to end the Lal Masjid threat. Once the operation ended, the newly formed Pakistani Taliban, an umbrella group of all militants based out of FATA vowed revenge and launched a wave of attacks and suicide bombings erupted all over North-West Pakistan and major Pakistani cities throughout 2007.

The militants then expanded their base of operations and moved into the neighboring Swat Valley and imposed a very harsh Sharia law on the scenic valley. The Army launched an offensive to re-take the Swat Valley in 2007 but was unable to clear it of the militants who had fled into the mountains and waited for the Army to leave to take over the valley again. The militants then launched another wave of terrorist attacks inside Pakistan.

The Pakistani government and military tried another peace deal with the militants in Swat Valley in 2008. This was roundly criticized in the West as abdicating to the militants. Initially pledging to lay down their arms if Sharia Law was implemented, the Pakistani Taliban used Swat Valley as a springboard to launch further attacks into neighboring regions and reached to within 60 km of Islamabad.

The public opinion turned decisively against the Pakistani Taliban when a video showing a flogging of a girl by the Pakistani Taliban in Swat Valley finally forced the army to launch a deceive attack against the Taliban occupying Swat Valley in April 2009.[71] After heavy fighting the Swat Valley was largely pacified by July 2009 although there are isolated pockets of Taliban activity continues.

The next phase of Pakistani Army's offensive was the formidable Waziristan region. A US drone attack killed the leader of the Pakistani Taliban, Baitullah Mehsud in August in a targeted killing. A power struggle engulfed the Pakistani Taliban for the whole of September but by October a new leader had emerged, Hakimullah Mehsud. Under his leadership, the Pakistani Taliban launched another wave of terrorist attacks throughout Pakistan killing hundreds of people.

The Pakistani Army had been massing over 30,000 troops and 500 Commandos to launch a decisive offensive against the Pakistani Taliban's sanctuaries. After a few weeks of softening up the targets with air strikes and artillery and mortar attacks, the Army moved in a three pronged attack on South Waziristan. The fighting is currently continuing.

Since the conflict began, Pakistan has lost more than three times the number of its soldiers compared to the number of US troops killed in Afghanistan. However, as of 2009, the confirmed bodycount of militants killed by the Pakistan Army reached the 7,000 mark.[72]

UN peacekeeping missions

Date Location Mission
August 1960 - May 1964 Congo Pakistani troops working under the auspices of the UN were first deployed in Congo and formed part of the UN Operation in Congo (UNOC). Their mission was to ensure a stable withdrawal of Belgian Colonial forces and a smooth transition of Congo to self-government.[73]
October 1962 - April 1963 West New Guinea More than six hundred Pakistani troops formed part of the UN contingent forces that were deployed to ensure a smooth withdrawal of Dutch colonial forces from West New Guinea before the government of Indonesia could take over the island.[73]
March 1991 Kuwait After the Gulf War, the Pakistani Army Corps of Engineers performed recovery missions on the Kuwaiti Island of Bubiyan located north of Kuwait City.[73]
March 1992 - March 1996 Bosnia Pakistan contributed two battalions of troops to form part of the United Nations Protection Force. These troops provided security and protection to various UN agencies, organization and personnel operating there and also provided humanitarian assistance such as medical care to the local population.[73]
April 1992 - March 1995 Somalia Pakistan contributed over 7,200 troops for the humanitarian mission in Somalia. They were heavily engaged in peacekeeping, humanitarian assistance to a region racked with senseless factional violence. Unfortunately thirty-nine Pakistani peacekeepers became casualties of this factional violence when Somali militias ambushed them. Pakistani peacekeepers also played a major part in the rescue of US forces when they tried to capture wanted warlords during the Battle of Mogadishu.[73]
May 1996 - August 1997 Eastern Slovenia Pakistan had over 1,000 troops as part of UN Transitional Administration for Eastern Slovenia. It provided security that ensured that there was no further fighting between Serbs and Croats.[73]
2003 Haiti Pakistani troops participated in peace keeping process.
Jan 2001 - Jan 2004 East Timor Pakistan had over 2000 troops consisting of engineer elements present for construction process taking place in East Timor after civil war.
June 2003 - Dec 2004 Sierra Leone 1500 Pakistani troops participated in peace keeping process.
Jan 2005 - Dec 2006 Burundi 2000 Pakistani troops participated in peace keeping missions.
May 2006 - to date Liberia 1600 Pakistani troops in peace keeping missions.

See also


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Further reading

  • Brian Cloughley (2001). A History of the Pakistan Army. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-579507-5. 
  • Stephen P. Cohen (1998). The Pakistan Army. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-577948-7. 
  • Jessica Stern and Hassan Abbas (2004). Pakistan's Drift Into Extremism: Allah, The Army, And America's War On Terror. M.E. Sharpe. ISBN 0-7656-1497-9. 
  • Gul Hassan Khan (1994). Memoirs of Lt. Gen. Gul Hassan Khan : (The Last Commander-in-Chief of the Pakistan Army) (The Last Commander-in-Chief of the Pakistan Army). Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-577447-7. 

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