Pakistan Army: A disciplined institution

The Pakistan Army came into existence on the eve of the partition of the sub-continent. The regular Pakistan Army officers were the product of the Indian military academy at Dehradun and most of the officers had seen combat during World War II and in insurgencies. As far as soldiers were concerned, before partition, the British exploited the concept of honour and bravery (martial race) through the recruitment of soldiers from different races in Punjab and NWFP (KP).
Even after independence, the Pakistan Army too relied on the same areas of recruitment for martial races. With the passage of time, this has changed and now recruitment is being done from across Pakistan including Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan. The recruitment in Pakistan Army for the officer cadre and other ranks is done through a selection system which includes physical, mental, academic and mental tests. After getting tough training at PMA and regimental centres, all ranks are sent to units to face the real action.
The question is; why would someone sacrifice their life—the simple reasons are faith, love for their country, discipline and esprit de corps. The word discipline comes from the Latin word disciplina, meaning teaching and training, derived from the word discere, to learn. It is a way of life taught at the PMA which improves conduct of an individual by training, leadership and obedience of orders at all times in letter and spirit, cheerfully. The objective of discipline in the Pakistan Army is to produce quality soldiers who are upright and stand by their subordinates and follow the instructions of their superiors during trying conditions at the cost of life.
Today, the difference of opinion is never regarded as an act of disobedience and often officers are encouraged to express their opinion and ask questions from senior officers including the COAS. All ranks fight for the honour and safety of Pakistan.
Today, the casualty ratio of officers, especially young officers, is much higher and the role of junior officers has assumed greater importance. They lead from the front, therefore the risk of being killed is greater than their men. During training, all ranks at PMA and regimental centres take pride in the profession and display a high degree of esprit de corps and a high standard of discipline which is evident from the standard of passing out parades.
In the army there is a proper code of conduct, that is the Manual of Pakistan Military Law (MPML) which is strictly followed; for violation of code of conduct and discipline, offenders are dealt with appropriately. Those found ill-disciplined and involved in cases of unbecoming acts are appropriately punished to provide justice and to act as deterrence to would-be offenders. In the past, some senior officers have been sentenced by military courts for unbecoming conduct which includes removal from service, life imprisonment and even capital punishment. The military trial/justice system is a fair trial system based on the laws and amendments passed by the parliament of the country. It is disappointing when people sit and curse the Pakistan Army and Pakistan. To realise the sacrifices rendered by the Pakistan Army, one has to step in the shoes of a soldier. Pakistan Army and its members have taken an oath to sacrifice their lives for the defence and security of the motherland.
Some elements are trying their best to tarnish the image of Pakistan Army by supporting external and internal attacks and narratives. Pakistan Army has successfully handled external attacks and the scourge of terrorism in the country. According to a survey carried out by the Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDAT), Pakistan Army was voted as the most trustworthy institution in Pakistan. Army portraits, slogans and posters adorn the back of trucks, busses and rickshaws as saviours of the nation. Over the last 73 years, the army has remained the most disciplined, well managed and responsive institution of the country.
Some groups often accuse the army of ruling the country through martial laws and interference in the political system. According to Shuja Nawaz in his book “Crossed Swords: Pakistan, Its Army, and the Wars Within”, politicians invited the army to settle political differences amongst themselves. He wrote, “Internally weak political parties tied to individual personalities or brought together by temporary and short-sighted common interests, have turned to involve the army in political affairs, only to later lament its active role and taking over of the reins of power”. Since 2007, the Pakistan Army has been on the same page under democratic governments. The army is subservient to the political government contrary to the myths and rumours that foreign policy is made by the army. The Pakistan army only supplements foreign policy with its input in areas of interest when asked by the Foreign Office.
Those hatching conspiracies and spewing venom against the armed forces cannot be well wishers of Pakistan. Their mission is to instigate the masses against the army by spreading fake news, rumours and misinformation. Ridiculing the Pakistan army and its ranks in the name of freedom of speech is not acceptable. There is a famous quote, “there will always be an army in your country, if it is not yours, then it will be your enemy’s”.

Masud Ahmad Khan

The writer is a retired brigadier and freelance columnist. He tweets @MasudAKhan6.

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