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An Army That Owns A Country

LONDON: Pakistan’s economy controlled by ruthless conglomerate – the army

owns everything in the country, from factories, bakeries, farmland, golf courses

620,000 soldiers, Pakistan boasts 7-largest standing army

senior officers have long ago realised perks from commercial ventures

writes Elliot Wilson for UK-based The Spectator

Since 1947, army steadily intertwined itself into Pakistan’s economy

hard to tell where military stops and any semblance of free-market begins

2007 book Inside Pakistan’s Military Economy

Dr Ayesha Siddiqa exposed rampant commercialism pervading military 

Dr Siddiqa estimates military’s net worth 10 billion pounds

roughly 4 times total FDI generated by Islamabad in 2007

senior 100 military officials worth 3.5 billion pounds

Pakistan’s largest corporations controlled by military

opaque network of powerful ‘foundations’ 

largest 3 – Fauji, Shaheen, Bahria controlled by army, air force, navy 

control 100 separate commercial entities from cement to cereal production

Fauji Foundation, largest of the lot worth several billion pounds

operates security force, oil terminal, phosphate JV with Moroccan govt

Bread supplied by military-owned bakeries

Army banks take deposits and disburse loans

1/3 heavy manufacturing and 7% private assets in army hands

average Pakistani earns 1,500 pounds a year

Pakistan poorer than all but 50 of the world’s nations

military’s junior officers live in squalid tents pitched by roadside, even in Islamabad

Financial autonomy given military dangerous sense of entitlement

any politician attempts to limit army’s power they get slapped down

an Benazir Bhutto, who tried to secularise the army without success

military beginning to act like feudal landlord

peasants in Punjab complained in 2001 army forced them to pay rent in cash

army cracked down, beating many and leaving eight dead

full democracy a threat to army’s power

since power creates greater economic opportunities, military perpetuates it

While other countries have armies, Pakistan’s army has a country.

army arrogant, dismissive attitude to its own people

flagrant profiteering engenders huge resentment 

in rural provinces army increasingly seen as invading force 

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