Pakistan Army

Pakistan was formed as a result of partition of India in 1947. The new nation began the development of its army soon after separation. Within a few years, the army ousted democratic system of governance and army rule existed most of the time until General Pervez Musharraf quit his presidency in 2008. The army is the strongest force is the Pakistan defense system and has fought a number of wars over the decades. It has also tackled a number of internal conflicts. Pakistan army is the backbone of the nation and plays a major role in development of socio-economic conditions by developing infrastructure in the country. On the international front, the army of Pakistan is doing great work in promoting world peace. Recently, the army won appreciation for being the biggest contributor to United Nations peace keeping attempts. The following article is a brief sketch about the evolution, the present status and future plans of the Pakistani army.


An official army was soon formed after partition and the first General of Pakistan army, General Ayub Khan, took charge of the army in 1951. Before partition of India took place, both the countries experienced a lot of violence. The root of the problem was fear on behalf of the Pakistanis who feared that India would capture Kashmir. At the same time, India received 21 infantry regiments, 40 artillery and 12 armored weapons of war and Pakistan received less than half of each. This gave birth to insecurity and that resulted in the massive massacre of 1947. Pakistan army first fought India in 1947, hardly a few months after the division of the countries. The war was interrupted by the United Nations. However, the war did bring out the strength of the Pakistani army as it managed to hold on the northeastern parts of Kashmir.

The Pakistan army has fought a number of wars throughout history. In 1958, Pakistan army ousted democratic rule and military rule was established. General Ayub Khan became the President of the country. By 1957, the military strength of the army had increased significantly with United States and England providing a lot of aid to the country in terms of weapons and finances. This aid came after the Baghdad Pact of 1954 and subsequently, the South East Asian Treaty Organization and Central Treaty Organization.
At the time of independence, Pakistan acquired and raised 7th, 8th and 9th divisions. In 1948, the country raised 10th, 12th and 14th divisions. In 1950, the country got its 15th army division. However, due to the fact that aid from United States was restricted, several of them such as Division 6 and Division 9 were disbanded. Six infantry divisions and one armored division received US aid after 1954.

All through history, Pakistan has always had tensed relationship with India. A number of minor scuffles on the borders have been a common happening between the two countries. The tension peaked in the 1960s for the second time after 1947 and a battle was fought in the Rann of Kutch in the 1965. The most dominant feature of this border war was the implementation of Operation Gilbraltar. The battle ended with the Tashkent Declaration. However, the performance of Pakistan army has been widely appreciated in the war because it stood like a rock before the much stronger and advanced Indian army. In the war, artillery played a very important role.

In 1969, when General Yahya Khan became the president after ousting Ayub Khan, the Pakistan army was strengthened by formation of 16, 18 and 23 divisions. In the period between 1969 and 1971, a lot of civil unrest took place in the country and the army played a major role during this period. East Pakistan, which is the present Bangladesh, got its independence from Pakistan after a fierce war of Independence. The Bangladesh army, with the support of Indian army to a large extent, succeeded in defeating Pakistan army and gained their independence. The People’s Republic of Bangladesh was formed on 16th December 1971 after General Niazi’s surrender to the Indian attack.

Between 1971 and 1977, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto took over as the President and Chief Martial Law Administrator, a post vacated by General Yahya Khan. This appointment brought a brief end to the army rule and democracy was reinstated, although not for long. In 1977, army head General Zia ul Haq ousted the Bhutto government and declared himself President and military chief. Thus, army rule was back.

Pakistan has fought four wars with India in 1947, 1965, 1971 and the more recent Kargil war of 1999. In 1947, Pakistan took control of northern and western parts of Kashmir while India retained the northeastern, central and southern parts. The war ended on an equal footing. In the 1965 war that lasted five weeks, Pakistan army lost. The next war of 1971 was not over Kashmir but over the independence of Bangladesh. India won decisively and Bangladesh got its independence. Kargil war of 1999 was also lost by Pakistan and the forces had to retreat from the Line of Control. In the 1970s, Pakistan army fought the Balochistan war. Although the army was successful in the war, heavy losses were incurred. After the Kargil war, the army came back to governance with General Pervez Musharraf as the President.

Ever since 2000, Pakistan army has been involved in scuffles with the Al-Qaeda, Taliban and other terrorist groups that exist in Pakistan and Afghanistan. In 2004 May, Pakistan military suffered severe losses in war with Al Qaeda due to poor organization. Pakistan has been in the clutches of terrorist violence with a number of bombings taking place all over the country regularly.
In 2007, army attacked the militant region Swat Valley but was unsuccessful in driving militants out. In 2008, negotiations over Swat valley with militants did not yield results. In April 2009, the army again attacked the Swat Valley and by July of the same year, a lot of militants were cleared out. However, Taliban activity still exists in the country. The attack on the militant controlled Waziristan region took place in September-October of 2009. 30,000 troops were deployed and the army was able to recapture the territory of Waziristan.

All through history, Pakistan has had the support of United States financially and in military training and development. In 1948, US aided Pakistan with $0.77 million and progressively increased the aid. In 2010, $1867.37 million was provided.


Pakistan army is the biggest force in its defense mechanism. There are 651,000 personnel employed in the army with 500,000 personnel in the reserve force. The present General of the Army is General Ashwaq Pervez Kayani.

On the whole, Pakistan army has a 16,461 land based weapons, out of which, there are 2640 tanks, 1700 towed artillery, 4620 APC/IFVs, 500 SPGs, 200 MLRS, 3200 mortars, 3400 AT weapons, 2500 AA weapons and 11,500 logistical vehicles. The country plans on expanding its nuclear power. As of now, the army is in possession of various surface to surface, surface to air, air to air and air to surface missile.

Pakistan army is one of the largest and the most active participant in the peace keeping missions of the United Nations. Currently, thousands of soldiers are deployed in different parts of the world for peace keeping activities. 3556 troops are deployed in the Democratic Republic of Congo as part of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission. These troops have been involved in the operation since 1999. Beginning from 2003, 2741 troops have been assigned as part of the United Nations Mission in Liberia. From 2004 onwards, 1185 troops have been stationed for United Nations Operations in Burundi. In the same year, 1145 troops were sent for peace keeping mission for United Nations Operation in Cote d’Ivoire. In 2005, 1542 troops were sent to support the United Nations Mission in Sudan.

There are two main branches in the Pakistan Army – Services and Arms, the Services wing consists of Army Services Corps, Corps of Military Police, Military Intelligence Corps, Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, Army Ordnance Corps, Pakistan Army Medical Corps, Army Dental Corps, Remount Veterinary and Farms Corps, Army Education Corps, JAG Corps and Army Clerical Corps. The Arms wing consists of the Armored Corps division, artillery, infantry, air defense, engineers, aviation, signals, chemical corps and airborne division.

The weapon strength of the Pakistan army is substantial. The force has different handguns such as Glock 17 and 26, Tokarev, HK P7, Beretta 92 and Steyr M9A1, which has been obtained by SSW. Sub machine guns are of different kinds such as Heckler and Koch MP5, Heckler and Koch MP5K, M4A1 and FN P90. Heckler and Koch Battle rifle is also present in the Pakistan army. In addition, the force has a number of Assault rifles such as Type 56, AK-103, Steyr AUG and FN F200 and Arges 84 & M67 Grenades, Sniper rifles such as Dragunov, HK PSG1, M82 Barret and Steyr SSG69 and Machine guns such as FN MAG, FN Minimi para, MG3 and RPD. Grenade launchers such as Carl Gustav recoilless rifle, Mk 19, RPG 7 and 29 are housed in the army weapons wing.

The Pakistani army houses 400 Al-Khalid, 320 T-80UD, 300 Type 85-IIAP, 400 Al-Zarrar, 400 Type 69-II, 400 Type 59 and a number of Type 63 and T-54/55 Main Battle Tanks. Many of these are held in reserve storage.

Armored personal carriers are a major contribution to the weapon strength with Hamza infantry fighting vehicles, 140 Al-Fahd infantry fighting vehicle, M113 armored personnel carrier which are 1600 in number, 120 armored personnel carriers of type BTR-70/BTR-80, Mohafiz Light Armoured Personnel Carriers, 260 Otokar Akrep Light Jeep and M88 ARV Armoured Recovery Vehicle. In addition to these, Pakistan army has two Armoured Vehicle Launched Bridges such as M60A1 AVLB and M48, both of which are currently in service.

Pakistan army consists of around 500 self propelled artillery such as M110 of caliber 203mm, M109 of caliber 155mm and Norinco SH1 of caliber 155mm. 36 300 mm A-100E, 122 mm Azar (Type 83) and 122mm KRL-122 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems are available with the army. The KRL-122 MLRS is a truck mounted launching systems that has a range of 40 km and is enabled with GPRS. In the towed artillery section, the army houses around 1700 weapons such as 28 M115 of 203mm caliber, 52 MKEK Panter, 148 M198 and 144 number of M114 of 155mm caliber. In addition, the towed artillery section consists of Type 59I, Type 54, M56, M101 and Type 56 weapons and equipments.

Anti tank weapons such as Bakter Shikan ATGM, BGM 71 TOW and BGM 71 TOW 2 and MILAN are present in the army. 35mm twin cannon Oerlikon GDF-005, modified cannon Oerlikon AHEAD, PG99 (CS/SA1) and Bofors 40mm cannons augment the army strength of Pakistan.
Originally, the Pakistani army consisted predominantly of Punjab regiment. However, as of now, the army is equipped with a number of regiments that fight in various formations. Important regiments in the army are Punjab regiment, Frontier Force Regiment, Baloch regiment, Azad Kashmir Regiment, Sind Regiment and Northern Light infantry. Besides these, there are a number of cavalry regiments under Pakistani Armored Corps. A special force is formed for the protection of the President called The President’s Bodyguard.

For carrying out special elite operations, the army has special forces consisting of 2100 personnel who are divided into three battalions. The current strength, with possible enhancements is kept confidential although it is expected that the special forces now consist of six battalions. These forces have been created on the same lines as that of American Green Berets and SAS of Britain army.

The headquarters of the Pakistani army is at Rawalpindi in Punjab state. The army has thirteen corps divisions, each located in a different part of the country. Each of these Corps, in turn, has a number of armored brigades, artillery brigades, Infantry brigades and anti-tank brigades. The Corps are headquartered at Mangla Cantonment, Multan, Lahore, Gujranwala, Bahawalpur, Karachi, Rawalpindi, Peshawar and Quetta. The air defense command forces and army strategic forces command have their headquarters at Rawalpindi.

The army of Pakistan plays a major role in governance and nation building activities in arenas such as infrastructure development, industrial development, National disaster management and other miscellaneous national tasks. Besides defending the boundaries of its motherland, Pakistan army runs a number of welfare organizations such as AWT, FWO, Fauji Foundation, Bahria Foundation, Shaheen Foundation, SCO and NLC that work towards uplifting various sections of the society including national martyrs, those disabled in national service and military retirees. The army also takes up massive restoration and rehabilitation tasks in places hit by disaster. It works towards providing basic facilities such as medical aid and education in addition to restoring infrastructure such as roads, bridges and dams.

The contribution of Pakistani army in maintaining internal peace in a country that is always characterized by terrorism and violence is appreciable. The army acts as a major stabilizing force in the country.


Future plans of Pakistani army are to increase their weapons inventory and in keeping with this objective, several firms in Pakistan have come together to develop and produce weapons in joint agreements with Ukraine, France and South Korea. These deals were formed during the International Defense Exhibition and Seminar help in 2006 November at Karachi. As per these agreements, the Pakistani army is to receive land and armor weaponry, 155mm artillery shells and armor bricks. By 2019, the entire artillery capability of Pakistan army will be upgraded to 155mm. China, United States and Europe will be supplying a number of heavy, medium and light self propelled and towed howitzers to Pakistan.

Massive plans for enhancement and modernization of artillery, infantry and armor divisions are in line. Development is planned both quantitatively and qualitatively. The army aims at having a total of 2000 Talha armored personnel carriers. Sa’ad armored personnel carriers are currently in production. The army also plans to arm itself with 200 Al Qaswa logistic vehicles and they are in the process of procurement.

Pakistan army has signed agreement with Heavy Industries Taxila. This pact is for the development of main battle tank Al Khalid II. By 2012, the country plans to make these tanks the major tank force of its army. The older tanks that were procured from China will be replaced by these state of the art tanks. The tank sports western design and is said to be a huge development over the currently existing Al Khalids.

In addition, Pakistan army has formed contracts with Turkey for development of modern tank systems and other defense machinery. WS-1B multiple launch rocket systems are also in line for procurement from China. These rocket launching systems will be various sizes and ranges. The army aviation wing is another arena that is the subject of development. Attack helicopters will be acquired for Europe, United States and Russia.

The special forces, paramilitary forces and regular forces of the Pakistan army have been initiated for modernization. The modernization drive is planned to be a highly comprehensive activity that includes development of new battle strategies, improvement in training of personnel and procuring better weapons and equipments. Plans are also on to bring a change in the infantry uniform, which will include bullet proof vests, assault rifles of caliber 5.56mm and helmets.

The army also plans to improve its night vision equipment and systems of communication that will provide highly secure channels for communication. Devices for enhanced communication will be procured from the United States. For improving standards in training, Pakistan army sends officers to NATO countries, where instructors from the United States offer state of the art training. Development of missile strength, especially of the Shaheen II missile, is another major agenda in the future plans of the Pakistani army.