Pakistan Army

The Pakistan Army (Urdu: پاک فوج Pak Fauj (IPA: Pɑk fɒ~ɔd͡ʒ); Reporting name: PA) is the land-based uniform service branch of thePakistan Armed Forces. It came into existence after the independence of Pakistan in 1947. The Pakistan Army is a volunteer professional fighting force.[1] According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) it has an active force of 550,000 personnel in 2010. In addition there were around 500,000 reserves bringing the total to 1,050,000 troops.[2] The Constitution of Pakistan contains a provision for conscription, but it has never been imposed.

The primary mandate and mission of the army is “dedicated to the service of the nation.”[3] Since establishment in 1947, the Army (along with its inter–services: Navy, Marines and the Air Force) has been involved in three wars with neighbouring India and several borderskirmishes with Afghanistan.[4] Since 1947 it has maintained strong presence along with its inter-services in the Arab states during the past Arab-Israeli Wars, and aided the coalition in the first Gulf War. Recently, major joint-operations undertaken by the Army includeOperation Black Thunderstorm and Operation Rah-e-Nijat. Apart from conflicts, the army has been an active participant in UN missions and played a major role in rescuing trapped American soldiers from Mogadishu of Somalia in 1993 in Operation Gothic Serpent.

Under the Article 243, the Constitution of Pakistan appoints the President of Pakistan as the civilian Commander-in-Chief. The Chief of Army Staff (COAS), by statute a four-star general, is appointed by the President with the consultation and confirmation needed from the Prime Minister of Pakistan.[5] The Pakistan Army is currently commanded by General Raheel Sharif.[6][7]


The Pakistan Army serves as the land-based branch of the Pakistan military. Chapter 2 of PART XII of the Constitution of Pakistan defines the purpose of the Army along with the other parts of the Armed Forces as:[8]

The Armed Forces shall, under the directions of the Federal Government, defend Pakistan against external aggression or threat of war, and, subject to law, act in aid of civil power when called upon to do so.[9]



General Ayub Khan arriving to take command of the Pakistan Army in 1951

The Pakistan Army was created on 30 June 1947 from the division of the British Indian Army. The then soon to be created Dominion of Pakistanreceived six armoured, eight artillery and eight infantry regiments compared to the 12 armoured, forty artillery and twenty one infantry regiments that went to India. Fearing that India would take over the state of Kashmir, irregulars, scouts and tribal groups entered the Muslim majority state of Kashmir to oppose the Maharaja of Kashmir 1947. In response to this, the Maharaja acceded to India. The Indian Armed Forces were then deployed to Kashmir. This led to the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947. Regular Army units joined the invasion later on but were stopped after the refusal of the Chief of Army Staff, British officer General Sir Frank Messervy, to obey Pakistani leader Muhammed Ali Jinnah’s orders to move the Army into Kashmir. A ceasefire followed on UN intervention with Pakistan occupying the northwestern part of Kashmir and India occupying the rest. Later, during the 1950s, the Pakistan Army received large amounts of economic and military aid from the United States and Great Britain after signing two mutual defence treaties, the Baghdad Pact, which led to the formation of the Central Treaty Organization, and the South East Asian Treaty Organization (SEATO) in 1954. This aid greatly expanded the Pakistan Army from its modest beginnings.

The sole divisions that went to Pakistan were the 7th. 8th and 9th Divisions. The 10th, 12th and 14th Divisions were raised in 1948. The 15th Division of the Army was raised in 1950. At some point before 1954, the 6th Division was raised and the 9th Division was disbanded.


Pakistan Army took over from politicians for the first time when General Ayub Khan came to power through a bloodless coup in 1958. He formed Convention Muslim League which included Z.A. Bhutto, who would later become Pakistan’s first democratically elected Prime Minister. Tensions with India flared in the 1960s and a brief border skirmish was fought near the Rann of Kutch area during April 1965. The Army attacked India from the Kashmir front. In response on the night of 6 September 1965 Indian Armyopened the war front to Punjab Province of Pakistan, The Indian Army reached near the Pakistani city of Lahore, eventually capturing a large area of Pakistan but a treaty was reached and the area was given back. The war ended with UN backed ceasefire and followed by Tashkent Declaration. According to the Library of Congress Country Studies conducted by the Federal Research Division of the United States, the war was inconclusive militarily.[10] The war was militarily inconclusive; each side held prisoners and some territory belonging to the other.

The Pakistan Army considers itself to have achieved a victory because it simply insists and ignores the treaty of Tashkent by saying it was arranged by USSR, who managed to hold off significantly larger force attacking Pakistani territory at different points, which the Pakistan Army did not expect and was not prepared or equipped for. Indian sources as well as most neutral sources disagree and call the end result an Indian victory. All though Pakistan failed in gaining all of Kashmir, there was highly effective support from the Pakistan Air Force which was unexpected is often considered to have neutralized India’s advantage in quantity of forces to a great extent. The accurate artillery fire provided by the Pakistan Army artillery units is also stated to have played a significant role.

An uprising against General Ayub Khan during 1968 and 1969 resulted in Ayub Khan relinquishing his office as President and Commander-in-Chief of the Army in favour of General Yahya Khan, who assumed power in 1969. The 16th Division, 18th Division and the 23rd Division were raised at some point between 1966 and 1969 and the 9th Division was also re-raised during this period.


During the rule of Yahya Khan, the people of East Pakistan protested against various political and economic disparities that had been imposed on them by West Pakistan and massive civil unrest broke out in East Pakistan. During operations against these rebels, called Operation Searchlight, a faction of the Pakistan Army was responsible for the 1971 Bangladesh atrocities.[11]Beginning with the start of Operation Searchlight on 25 March 1971 and due to the Bangladesh Liberation War, there were numerous human rights abuses in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) perpetrated by the Pakistan Army, with support from local political and religious militias, especially against Hindus.[12][13] Time reported a high ranking US official as saying “It is the most incredible, calculated thing since the days of the Nazis in Poland.”[14]

The original plan envisioned taking control of the major cities on 26 March 1971, and then eliminating all opposition, political or military,[15] within one month. The prolonged Bengali resistance was not anticipated by Pakistani planners.[16] The main phase of Operation Searchlight ended with the fall of the last major town in Bengali hands in the mid of May.

Soon heavy fighting broke out between the Pakistan Army and the Indian-backed Bengali rebels. In this period the Pakistan Army killed an estimated 3 million people. In December 1971 Pakistan attacked India’s western air bases, in an attempt to thwart Indian support for the rebels. This officially led to start of the Pakistan India War of 1971 (also called the Bangladesh Liberation War). In the eastern theatre the Pakistan Army was decimated by the Indian Army and rebels, while in the western front the Pakistan Army was defeated in the battles of Basanter and Longewalla.

On 16 December 1971, Lt. Gen A. A. K. Niazi, CO of Pakistan Army forces located in East Pakistan signed the Instrument of Surrender. Over 93,000 Pakistani personnel surrendered to the Indian and Bengali forces making it the largest surrender since World War II.

In 1997 R. J. Rummel published a book, available on the web, called “Statistics of Democide: Genocide and Mass Murder Since 1900”, In Chapter 8 called “Statistics Of Pakistan’s Democide Estimates, Calculations, And Sources” he looks at the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War. Rummel wrote:

In East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) [the President of Pakistan, General Agha Mohammed Yahya Khan, and his top generals] also planned to murder its Bengali intellectual, cultural, and political elite. They also planned to indiscriminately murder hundreds of thousands of its Hindus and drive the rest into India. And they planned to destroy its economic base to insure that it would be subordinate to West Pakistan for at least a generation to come. This plan may be perceived as genocide.[17]

According to Maj. (Retd.) Agha Humayun Amin, the Pakistan Army commanders had not seriously considered an Indian invasion of East Pakistan until December 1971 because it was presumed that the Indian military would not risk Chinese or US intervention. Maj Mazhar states that the Pakistan Army’s senior command failed to realize that the Chinese would be unable to intervene during the winter months of November to December due to snowbound Himalayan passes and the US had not made any real effort to persuade India against attacking East Pakistan.[18]


A Pakistan International Airlines flight was sent to fetch Zulfikar Ali Bhutto from New York, who at that time was presenting Pakistan’s case before the United Nations Security Council on the East Pakistan Crises. Bhutto returned home on 18 December 1971. On 20 December, he was taken to the President House in Rawalpindi where he took over two positions from Yahya Khan, one as President and the other as Chief Martial Law Administrator. Thus he was the first civilian Chief Martial Law Administrator of the Pakistan.


Two AH-1S Cobra attack helicopters of the Pakistan Army Aviation Wing at AVN Base, Multan. These were sold to Pakistan by the US during the Soviet-Afghan war to help defend Pakistan against a possible attack by the Soviets.

In 1977 a coup was staged by General Zia ul-Haq and the government was overthrown. This led to the hanging of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto after he was tried and proclaimed guilty of conspiracy of murdering a politician named Kasuri by Zia’s handpicked judges. Zia retracted on his promise of holding elections within 90 days and ruled as a military dictator until his death in an air crash in 1988. General Mohammad Iqbal Khan served as a joint chief from 1980 to 1984 and was the Chief Martial Law Officer during that time.

In the mid-1970s the Pakistan Army was involved in fighting an uprising in Balochistan. Various Baloch factions, some with the oblique support of the USSR wanted independence or at least greater provincial rights. The rebellion was put down on the behest of the Bhutto government but the Army suffered heavy casualties. After Bhutto was deposed, the province returned to normalcy under General Rahimuddin.

In the 1980s, the Pakistan Armed Forces co-operated with the United States to provide arms, ammunition and intelligence assistance to Afghanistani rebels who were fighting the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

During the 1st Gulf War the Pakistan Army contributed troops for the defence of Saudi Arabia against possible Iraqi attack. The 153 SP Air Defence Regiment deployed in Tabuk scored multiple hits on number of Iraqi Scuds and provided round the clock air defence protection to Saudi troops in the area.


A Pakistan Army soldier keeping watch at Baine Baba Ziarat in Swat

Pakistani forces after victory in Operation Black Thunderstorm.

In October 1999, after the Kargil Conflict ended with the unconditional withdrawal of the Pakistani forces from the Indian controlled peaks, the Pakistan Army overthrew a democratically elected government for the fourth time, resulting in additional sanctions being applied against Pakistan, leading to General Pervez Musharrafcoming to power in a bloodless coup. However, this time Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif sacked Musharraf when he was on his way to Pakistan from Colombo. He dismissed the Army Chief and appointed General Ziauddin Butt as Army Chief when Musharraf’s plane was in the air. That was not enough, the plane was not allowed to land at the airport in Karachi and barricades were erected on the runway. The corps commanders acted swiftly across Pakistan, particularly in Karachi and Islamabad. Brigadiar Muzaffar Usmani took control of the airport in Karachi and arrested the then Inspector General of Sindh Police, Rana Maqbool Ahmed. Musharraf stepped down as President in August 2008. On 30 July 2009, the Supreme Court of Pakistan ruled that Musharraf’s imposition of emergency rule was unconstitutional.[19]

After the September 11 attacks in the United States, Pakistan joined the US-led War on Terror and helped the United States armed forces by severing ties with the Taliban and immediately deploying 72,000 troops along Pakistan’s western border to capture or kill Taliban and al-Qaida militants fleeing from Afghanistan. On the north western front, Pakistan initially garrisoned its troops in military bases and forts in the tribal areas. In May 2004 clashes erupted between the Pakistani troops and al-Qaeda’s and other militants joined by local rebels and pro-Taliban forces. However, the offensive was poorly coordinated and the Army suffered heavy casualties, while public support for the attack quickly evaporated. After a two-year conflict from 2004 until 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 Talibanisation 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 two years of conflict.

Militants took over the Lal Masjid in Islamabad. After a six-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 Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan or TTP (also known as the Pakistan Taliban), an umbrella group of all militants based in FATA, vowed revenge and launched a wave of attacks and suicide bombings which erupted all over North-West Pakistan and major Pakistani cities, including Karachi, throughout 2007.

The militants then expanded their base of operations and moved into the neighbouring Swat Valley, where they imposed Sharia law. The Pakistan 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 them to leave before taking 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. After initially pledging to lay down their arms if Sharia law was implemented, the Pakistani Taliban subsequently used the Swat Valley as a springboard to launch further attacks into neighbouring regions, reaching to within 60 kilometres (37 mi) of Islamabad.

Public opinion then turned decisively against the Taliban terrorists. This opinion was highlighted following the release of a video showing the flogging of a girl by the Pakistani Taliban in Swat Valley. Similar events and terrorist attacks finally forced the Pakistan Army to launch a decisive attack against the Taliban occupying Swat Valley in April 2009, after having received orders from the political leadership.[20] After heavy fighting the Swat Valley was largely pacified by July 2009, although isolated pockets of Taliban remained in the area.

The next phase of the Pakistan Army’s offensive was the formidable Waziristan region. A US drone attack killed the leader of the Taliban, Baitullah Mehsud, in August. A power struggle engulfed the Taliban during September, but by October a new leader had emerged, Hakimullah Mehsud. Under his leadership, the Taliban launched another wave of terrorist attacks throughout Pakistan, killing hundreds of people. After a few weeks of air strikes, artillery and mortar attacks, 30,000 troops moved on South Waziristan, in a three pronged attack. The Pakistan Army re-took South Waziristan and is currently thinking of expanding the campaign to North Waziristan.

On April 2012 an avalanche struck the 6th Northern Light Infantry Battalion headquarters in Ghyari sector of Siachen, entrapping 135 soldiers.[21]

UN Peacekeeping Missions[edit]

In the wake of the new world power equilibrium a more complex security environment has emerged. It is characterized by growing national power politics and state implosions which have necessitated involvement of the United Nations peace keeping forces for conflict resolution.

The United Nations has been undertaking peace keeping operations since its inception, but the need for employment of peace keeping forces has increased significantly since the Gulf War. In 1992 there were 11,000 Blue Berets deployed around the world, by the end of the year the figure rose to 52,000. Presently it exceeds 80,000 troops.

  • UN Operation in Congo (ONUC) 1960–1964
  • UN Security Force in New Guinea, West Irian (UNSF) 1962–1963
  • UN Yemen Observer Mission Yemen (UNYOM) 1963–1964
  • UN Transition Assistance Group in Namibia (UNTAG) 1989–1990
  • UN Iraq–Kuwait Observer Mission (UNIKOM) 1991–2003
  • UN Mission in Haiti (UNMIH) 1993–1996
  • UN Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) 1992–1993
  • UN Operations in Somalia (UNOSOM) 1992–1995
  • UN Protection Forces in Bosnia (UNPROFOR) 1992–1995
  • UN Observer Mission for Rawanda (UNAMIR) 1993–1996
  • UN Verification Mission in Angola (UNAVEM III) 1995–1997
  • UN Transitional Administration for Eastern Slavonia (UNTAES) 1996–1997
  • UN Mission of Observers in Prevlaka (UNMOP) 1996–2002
  • UN Assistance Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) 2001–2005
  • UN Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) 1999-to-date

The table below shows the current deployment of Pakistani forces in UN Peacekeeping missions.

Start of operation Name of Operation Location Conflict Contribution
1999 United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) Democratic Republic of Congo Second Congo War 3,556 Troops.[22]
2003 United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) Liberia Second Liberian Civil War 2,741 Troops.[22]
2004 United Nations Operation in Burundi ONUB Burundi Burundi Civil War 1,185 Troops.[22]
2004 United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) Côte d’Ivoire Civil war in Côte d’Ivoire 1,145 Troops.[22]
2005 United Nations Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS) Sudan Second Sudanese Civil War 1,542 Troops.[22]
Staff/Observers 191 Observers.[22]
  • The total amount of troops serving currently in peacekeeping missions is 10,173 (as of March 2007).


Pakistan Army
Flag of the Pakistani Army.svg
Chief of Army Staff
Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee
Organisation and Components
Structure of the Pakistan Army
Frontier Corps
Frontier Works Organisation
Special Service Group
Army Cantonment Board
Pakistan Armoured Corps
General Headquarters
Pakistan Military Academy
Command and Staff College
National Defence University
Army Ranks of Pakistan
Pakistan Army Generals
History and Traditions
Military history of Pakistan
UN Peacekeeping Missions
Pakistan Army FC
Awards, Decorations and Badges
Awards and Decorations

Command Structure[edit]

The President of Pakistan is the civilian supreme commander of the Pakistan Armed Forces by statute, while the Prime Minister of Pakistan served as the chief executive of Pakistan Armed Forces, both people-elected civilians, Prime Minister and President, maintains the civilian control of the military. The Chief of the Army Staff (COAS), a four-star general, is the highest general officer (unless the four-star general is Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee), a field and operational commander as well as a highest army four-star general officer, directs the non-combat and combatant operations from army combatant headquarters in Rawalpindi, near Islamabad. The Principal Staff Officers (PSO) assisting him in his duties at theLieutenant-General level include a Chief of General Staff (CGS), under whom the Military Operations and Intelligence Directorates function; the Chief of Logistics Staff (CLS); the Adjutant General (AG); the Quarter-Master General (QMG); the Inspector General of Training and Evaluation (IGT and E); the Military Secretary (MS); and the Engineer-in-Chief, a top army topographer. A major reorganization in GHQ was done in September 2008 under General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, when two new PSO positions were introduced: the Inspector General Arms and the Inspector General Communications and IT, thus raising the number of PSO’s to eight.[23]

The headquarters function also includes the Judge Advocate General (JAG), and the Comptroller of Civilian Personnel, the Engineer-in-Chief of theCorps of Engineers who is also head of Military Engineering Service (MES), all of them also report to the Chief of the Army Staff. Although most of the officer corps were generally Muslim by the 1970s, there were still serving Christian officers the highest rank being attained by Major General Julian Peter who served as the General Officer Commanding of a Division and as general staff officer at Army Headquarters up-till 2006.

Commissioned Officers Rank[edit]

The rank structure is patterned on the British Army model. It consists of commissioned officers, non-commissioned officers and the Junior Commissioned Officers.

Commissioned Officers Ranks of the Pakistan Army
Pay grade O-10 O-9 O-8 O-7 O-6 O-5 O-4 O-3 O-2 O-1
Insignia General pak army.jpg
US-O10 insignia.svg
Lt Gen.jpg
US-O9 insignia.svg
Maj Gen.jpg
US-O8 insignia.svg
Brigadier pak army.jpg
US-O7 insignia.svg
Colonel Pakistan Army.jpg Lt. Colonel Pakistan Army.jpg Major Pakistan Army.jpg Captain Pakistan Army.jpg Lieutenant Pakistan Army.jpg 2 lieutenant.jpg
Title General Lieutenant-General Major-General Brigadier Colonel Lieutenant-Colonel Major Captain Lieutenant Second Lieutenant
Abbreviation Gen LGen MGen Brig Col LCol Maj Capt Lt SLt
NATO Code OF-10 OF-9 OF-8 OF-7 OF-6 OF-5 OF-4 OF-3 OF-2 OF-1
Rank Hierarchy 4-star General 3-star General 2-star General 1-star Officer

Non-commissioned officers wear respective regimental colour chevrons on the right sleeve. Centre point of the uppermost chevron must remain 10 cm from the point of the shoulder. Company / battalion appointments wear the appointments badges on the right wrist.

Structure of Non-Commissioned Officers Ranks of the Pakistan Army
Pay grade OR-9 OR-8 OR-7 OR-6 OR-5 OR-4 OR-3 OR-2 OR-1
Insignia Batal H M.jpg Batallion Qu Havildar.jpg Comp Havildar Major.jpg Comp Quat Havildar.jpg Havildar.jpg Naik.jpg Lance Naik.jpg No insignia No insignia
Title Battalion Havildar Major Battalion Quartermaster Havildar Company Havildar Major Company Quartermaster Havildar Havildar Naik Lance Naik Sepoy No Equivalent
NATO Code OR-9 OR-8 OR-7 OR-6 OR-5 OR-4 OR-3 OR-2 OR-1
Junior Commissioned Officer Ranks
Insignia Subedar Major.jpg Subedar.jpg Naib Subedar.jpg
Title Subedar Major (infantry and other arms)/Risaldar Major (cavalry and armour) Subedar (infantry and other arms)/Risaldar (cavalry and armour) Naib Subedar (infantry and other arms)/Naib Risaldar (cavalry and armour)

Subdivision by Profession[edit]

The Pakistan Army is divided into two main branches, which are Arms and Services.

Operational Commands[edit]

The Pakistan Army operates three commands during peace time. Each command is headed by General Officer Commanding-in-Chief with the rank of Lieutenant General. Each command is directly affiliated to the Army HQ in Rawalpindi.

According to, drawing on Pakistani media sources, three commands, supervising a number of corps each, have been formed: Northern Command, Central Command, and Southern Command.[24][25]


A corps is an army field formation responsible for a zone within a command theatre. There are three types of corps in the Pakistani Army: Strike, Holding and Mixed. A command generally consists of two or more corps. A corps has Army divisions under its command. The Corps HQ is the highest field formation in the army.

There are 13 Corps in Pakistan Army. 9 of these Corps are composed of Infantry, Mechanized, Armoured, Artillery and Anti-Tank divisions and brigades. Army Air Defence Command is another Corps of Pakistan Army which plays the role of Anti-Aircraft Artillery whereas Army Aviation Corps provides air support to Pakistan Army. Army Strategic Forces Command is responsible for training, deployment and activation of Pakistan’s nuclear missiles. The last Corps is called the Northern Area Command which is Headquartered at Gilgit and is reported to have 5 Infantry Brigades.[26][27][28][29][30][31]

Forces in action or poised for action include XI Corps, which has been heavily engaged in fighting the Taliban and other extremists along Pakistan’s north-western border, an the 323rd Infantry Brigade, part of Forces Command Northern Areas, on the Siachen Glacier.

The peace time commands are given below in their correct order of raising, and location (city).

Flag of the Pakistani Army.svg Headquarters, Pakistani Army, Rawalpindi, Punjab

    • I Corps – headquartered at Mangla Cantonment
      • 6th Armoured Division headquartered at Gujranwala
      • 17th Infantry Division headquartered at Kharian
      • 37th Infantry Division headquartered at Kharian
      • 11th Independent Armoured Brigade
      • Independent Air Defence Brigade
      • Independent Artillery Brigade
      • Independent Infantry Brigade
    • II Corps – headquartered at Multan
      • 1st Armoured Division headquartered at Multan
      • 14th Infantry Division headquartered at Okara
      • 40th Infantry Division headquartered at Okara
      • Independent Armoured Brigade
      • Independent Air Defence Brigade
      • Independent Artillery Brigade
      • Independent Infantry Brigade
    • IV Corps – headquartered at Lahore
      • 2nd Artillery Division headquartered at Gujranwala
      • 10th Infantry Division headquartered at Lahore
      • 11th Infantry Division headquartered at Lahore
      • 3rd Independent Armoured Brigade
      • 212th Infantry Brigade
      • Independent Artillery Brigade
    • XXX Corps – headquartered at Gujranwala
      • 8th Infantry Division headquartered at Sialkot
      • 15th Infantry Division headquartered at Sialkot
      • 2nd Independent Armoured Brigade
      • Independent Anti-Tank Brigade
      • Independent Artillery Brigade
    • XXXI Corps – headquartered at Bahawalpur
      • 26th Mechanized Division headquartered at Bahawalpur[32]
      • 35th Infantry Division headquartered at Bahawalpur
      • 13th Independent Armoured Brigade
      • 101st Independent Infantry Brigade

Pakistan Army Structure 2013

Other Field Formations[edit]

  • Division: An Army Division is an intermediate between a Corps and a Brigade. It is the largest striking force in the army. Each Division is headed by General Officer Commanding (GOC) in the rank of Major General. It usually consists of 15,000 combat troops and 8,000 support elements. Currently, the Pakistani Army has 29 Divisions including 20 Infantry Divisions, 2 Armoured Divisions, 2 Mechanized Divisions, 2 Air Defence Divisions, 2 Strategic Divisions and 1 Artillery Division. Each Division composes of several Brigades.
  • Brigade: A Brigade generally consists of around 3,000 combat troops with supporting elements. An Infantry Brigade usually has 3 Infantry Battalions along with various Support Arms & Services. It is headed by a Brigadier, equivalent to a Brigadier General in some armies. In addition to the Brigades in various Army Divisions, the Pakistani Army also has 7 Independent Armoured Brigades, 5 Independent Artillery Brigades, 3 Independent Infantry Brigades, and 3 Anti-Tank Brigades. These Independent Brigades operate directly under the Corps Commander (GOC Corps).
  • Regiment: A regiment is commanded by a Colonel.
  • Battalion: A Battalion is commanded by a Lieutenant-Colonel and is the Infantry’s main fighting unit. It consists of more than 900 combat personnel.
  • Company: Headed by the Major/Captain, a Company comprises about 120–150 soldiers.
  • Platoon: An intermediate between a Company and Section, a Platoon is headed by a Lieutenant or depending on the availability of Commissioned Officers, a Junior Commissioned Officer, with the rank of Subedar or Naib-Subedar. It has a total strength of about 30–36 troops.
  • Section: Smallest military outfit with a strength of about 9–13 personnel. Commanded by a Non-commissioned officer of the rank of Havildar Major or Sergeant Major.


Pakistan’s Honor Guards at theAiwan-e-Sadr, Islamabad

There are several battalions or units associated together in an infantry regiment. The infantry regiment in the Pakistani Army is an administrative military organisation and not a field formation. All the battalions of a regiment do not fight together as one formation, but are dispersed over various formations, viz. brigades, divisions and corps. An infantry battalion serves for a period of time under a formation and then moves to another, usually in another sector or terrain when its tenure is over. Occasionally, battalions of the same regiment may serve together for a tenure.

Most of the infantry regiments of the Pakistani Army originate from the old British Indian Army and recruit troops from a region or of specific ethnicities.

Regiments of the Pakistani Army include:

Special Forces[edit]

The Special Services Group (SSG) is an independent commando regiment/corps of the Pakistan Army. It is an elite special operations force similar to the United States Army Special Forces(Green Berets) and the British Army‘s SAS.

Combat doctrine[edit]

The Pakistan Army has developed a doctrine called the Riposte which is a limited “offensive-defence”[33] doctrine. It has refined it consistently starting in 1989 during the “Exercise Zarb-e-Momin”. This doctrine is fully focused towards Pakistan’s archenemy, India.

The doctrine is derived from several factors:[34]

  1. The vulnerability of Pakistan is that so many of its major population centres and politically and military sensitive targets lie very close to the border with India. As such Pakistan can ill-afford to lose large territories to an Indian attack.
  2. ‘Strategic depth’ in the form of a friendly Afghanistan is deemed vital by military planners.
  3. India has substantially enhanced its offensive capabilities, with the Cold Start Doctrine. Any counterattack would be very tricky against the large number of Indian troops involved. The response of the Pakistani army includes the development of the Nasr missile.
  4. Holding formations in both India and Pakistan can man their forward defensive positions and fortifications in less than 24 hours. However, Corps level reserves with large stockpiles of munitions will take between 24 to 72 hours for mobilization after being given their orders. In this regard, both armies will be evenly matched in the first 24 hours since the Pakistani units have to travel a shorter distance to their forward positions.

This doctrine entails Pakistan in the event of hostilities with India will not wait for the enemy’s offensive, but rather launch an offensive of its own. The offensive will be a limited advance along narrow fronts with the aim of occupying territory near the border to a depth of 40–50 km. Since Indian forces will not reach their maximum strength near the border for another 48–72 hours, Pakistan might have parity or numerical superiority against the Indians.

The Pakistani Army hopes to accomplish three things under this strategy:[34]

  1. The enemy is kept off-balance as it will be tied up containing the Pakistani offensive into its territory rather than launching an offensive into Pakistani territory.
  2. The Pakistani Army hopes to contain the fighting on the Indian side of the border so that any collateral or other damage will be suffered by India.
  3. Indian territory of strategic importance once seized, will give the Pakistani Army a bargaining chip to be used in the aftermath of a ceasefire brought about by international pressure after 3–4 weeks of fighting.
  4. The use of tactical battlefield nuclear missile such as Nasr missile that provide maximal damage against massed troops for extremely limited collateral casualties.

Kashmir, Line of Control and the Northern Punjab areas are heavily fortified and ill-suited for large mechanized offensives. The most likely area where Pakistan might launch its offensive is the semi-desert and desert sectors in southern Punjab and Sindh provinces.

To supplement this doctrine, the Army in the 1990s created a strong centralized corps of reserves for its formations. The force is known as Army Reserve South and is a grouping of several powerful Corps from Pakistan’s Order of Battle. These formations have been rapidly equipped with assets needed for mechanized capability. These reserve formations are dual-capable, meaning they can be used for offensive as well as defensive (holding) purposes. Pakistan has also increased its ammunition, fuel and other military stockpiles to last for 45 days in case of a conflict. During the 1965 war for instance, Pakistan only had 13-day reserves which hampered its military operations.

Political and Corporate Activities[edit]

The Pakistan Army has always played an integral part in local politics since its inception mainly on the pretext of lack of good civilian leadership corruption and inefficieny.[35] It has virtually acted as a third party that has repeatedly seized power in the name of stabilizing Pakistan and ending corruption. However, according to the political observers, political instability, lawlessness and corruption are direct consequences of army rule.[36][37]

The tradition of insubordination of the army towards the legitimate leadership of can be traced back to Lt. Gen Frank Messervy who resisted the orders of Pakistan’s founding father Muhammad Ali Jinnah. This was described as the main reason for his early retirement. However it did not prevent him being honored and promoted to general. Later Douglas Gracey, the C in C of the Pakistan Army did not send troops to the Kashmir front and refused to obey the order to do so given by Mohammad Ali Jinnah, Governor-General of Pakistan .[38] Gracey argued that Jinnah as Governor-General represented the British Crown of which he himself was an appointee. The same tradition was continued by their successors, Ayub Khan, Zia and Musharraf, all of whom received honours instead of being tried for indiscipline, corruption and insubordination.

The army runs the largest real estate business in Pakistan under the auspices of Defense Housing Societies and other welfare societies. However out 46 housing schemes directly built by the armed forces, none is for ordinary soldiers or civilian officers and personnel employed by the army.[39] The Army is also engaged in other corporate activities such as stud and dairy farms meant for the army’s own use. Others enterprises perform functions in local civilian economy such as bakeries, security services and banking. Army factories produced such goods as sugar, fertilizer, and brass castings and sold them to civilian consumers albeit at prices higher than those charged from military personnel.[40]

Several Army organizations operate in the commercial sector across the country. For example, the National Logistics Cell was responsible for trucking food and other goods across the country; the Frontier Works Organization built the Karakoram Highway to China; and the Special Communication Organization maintained communications networks in remote parts of Pakistan.

Involvement in Pakistani society[edit]

The Pakistan Army has played an integral part in the civil society of Pakistan, almost since its inception.[41] In 1996, General Jehangir Karamat described Pakistan armed forces’ relations with the society:

In my opinion, if we have to repeat of past events then we must understand that Military leaders can pressure only up to a point. Beyond that their own position starts getting undermined because the military is after all is a mirror image of the civil society from which it is drawn.

—General Jehangir Karamat on civil society–military relations, [41]

In times of natural disaster, such as the great floods of 1992 or the October 2005 devastating earthquake, army engineers, medical and logistics personnel, and the armed forces played a major role in bringing relief and supplies.

The Pakistan Army has been involved in relief activities not only in Pakistan but also in many other countries of the world, such as the relief activities after Bangladesh was hit by floods. The Army also dispatched relief to Indonesia, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka after they were hit by the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and the resulting tsunami. Both the Pakistan Army and Navy sent ships and helicopters to assist in the tsunami relief operation.


According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) the Pakistan Army has an active force of 550,000 personnel in 2010.[2] In addition there were around 500,000 reserves bringing the total to 1,050,000.

Enlisted Ranks[edit]

Most enlisted personnel used to come from rural families, and many have only rudimentary literacy skills, but with the increase in the literacy level the requirements have been raised to Matriculate level (10th Grade). Recruits are processed gradually through a paternalistically run regimental training center, taught the official language, Urdu, if necessary, and given a period of elementary education before their military training actually starts.

In the thirty-six-week training period, they develop an attachment to the regiment they will remain with through much of their careers and begin to develop a sense of being a Pakistani rather than primarily a member of a tribe or a village. Enlisted men usually serve for eighteen years, during which they participate in regular training cycles and have the opportunity to take academic courses to help them advance.

Officer Ranks[edit]

Each year, about 320 men and women enter the Army bi-annually through the Pakistan Military Academy at Kakul in Abbottabad in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa; a small number—like doctors and technical specialists—are directly recruited, and are part of the officer corps. The product of a highly competitive selection process, members of the officer corps have completed twelve years of education and spend two years at the Pakistan Military Academy, with their time divided about equally between military training and academic work to bring them up to a baccalaureate education level, which includes English-language skills.

Academic Institutions[edit]

The Army has twelve other training and educational establishments, including schools concentrating on specific skills such as infantry, artillery, intelligence, engineering, or mountain warfare. The National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST) has been established which has absorbed the existing colleges of engineering, signals, electrical engineering and medicine. At the apex of the army training system is the Command and Staff College at Quetta, one of the few institutions inherited from the colonial period. The college offers a ten-month course in tactics, staff duties, administration, and command functions through the division level. Students from foreign countries, including the United States, have attended the school but reportedly have been critical of its narrow focus and failure to encourage speculative thinking or to give adequate attention to less glamorous subjects, such as logistics.[citation needed]

The senior training institution for all service branches is the National Defence University, Islamabad. Originally established in 1971 at Rawalpindi, to provide training in higher military strategy for senior officers, the institution was relocated to Islamabad in 1995. According to Aqil Shah, the NDU is significant for understanding the institutional norms of military tutelage in Pakistan because it constitutes the “highest forum where the military leadership comes together for common instruction.” Without graduating from the NDU (or a foreign equivalent), no officer can become a general. Besides, the NDU training program represents a radical shift from the emphasis on operational and staff functions in the training of junior officers (for example, majors at the Staff College) to educating colonels and brigadiers about a broad range of strategic political, social, and economic factors as they affect national security. In that sense, it constitutes the senior officer corps’s baptism into a shared ideological framework about the military’s appropriate role, status, and behavior in relation to state and society. These shared values affect how these officers perceive and respond to civilian governmental decisions, policies, and political crises.[42] It also offers courses that allow civilians to explore the broader aspects of national security. In a program begun in the 1980s to upgrade the intellectual standards of the officer corps and increase awareness of the wider world, a small group of officers, has been detailed to academic training, achieving master’s degrees and even doctorates at universities in Pakistan and abroad.

Pakistani officers were sent abroad during the 1950s and into the 1960s for training in Britain and other Commonwealth countries, and the United States, where trainees numbering well in the hundreds attended a full range of institutions ranging from armoured and infantry schools to the higher staff and command institutions. After 1961 this training was coordinated under the International Military Education and Training (IMET) program, but numbers varied along with the vicissitudes of the United States-Pakistan military relationship. Of some 200 officers being sent abroad annually in the 1980s, over two-thirds went to the United States, but the cessation of United States aid in 1990 entailed suspension of the IMET program. In 1994 virtually all foreign training was in Commonwealth countries. However, after the 9/11 attacks, Pakistan again begun sending officers to US Army schools. Today there are more than 400 officers serving in foreign countries. Officers retire between the ages of fifty-two and sixty, depending on their rank.

Science and Technology[edit]

Apart from conducting military operations, exercises, and military ethics, the Pakistan Army maintains its own science and technology corps and organizations. Most notable science and engineering corps including Military Engineering Service (MES) Corps of Engineers, Corps of Electrical and Mechanical Engineering (EME), and Frontier Works Organisation. Its Army Strategic Forces Command served as the primary military organization in the matters of conducting and directing research on nuclear and space (such as military satellites). The cadets and officers of the Pakistan Army who wished to study science and technology are given admission at the College of Electrical and Mechanical Engineering (CEME) and the Military College of Engineering where the scientific and military education are taught. The admissions of engineering colleges are not restricted to civilians as they can also gain admission and graduate with engineering and science degrees.


Pakistan Army uniforms closely resemble those of the British Armed Forces. The principal colour is greenish brown. Dress uniforms were worn mostly on formal occasions. The service uniform was worn for daily duty. The service uniform for the ground forces was khaki (sand/tan) cotton. Officers purchased their uniforms, but enlisted personnel received a standard uniform issue, which consisted of service and field uniforms, fatigues, and in some cases, dress uniforms. The uniforms consisted of shirt, trousers, sweater, jacket or blouse, and boots. There is also a white dress uniform. The fatigues were the same for winter and summer. Heavy winter gear was issued as needed. Headgear included a service cap for dress and semi-dress and a field cap worn with fatigues. Army personnel also wear berets, usually worn in lieu of the service cap.

Brown and black and more recently former US BDU style camouflage fatigues are worn by army troop units. The uniform of a Pakistan army soldier exhibits much information i.e.

Pakistan Army has introduced pixilated arid camouflage pattern in uniform and resized qualification badges which are now colourless and service ribbons are no longer worn along with the ranks are now embroidered and are on chest. The name is embroidered and is on right pocket and the left pocket displays embroidered Pak Army. Flag of Pakistan is placed over the black embroidered formation sign on the left arm and adventure course insignias are put up as per ADR for khaki uniform,[43] decorations & awards[44] and the ranks.[45]

Ethnic composition[edit]

Traditionally, the army was a predominantly Punjabi force because of its dominant Population (Punjab is the most populous province of Pakistan, with approximately 45% of the country’s total population). In British India, three districts: Jhelum, Rawalpindi, and Campbellpur (now Attock) dominated the recruitment flows. By 2007 the percentage representation in the Pakistan Army as a whole was approximate as follows:
Punjabis: 53.19%
Pashtuns: 20%
Sindhis: 14.5%
Kashmiris: 9.11%
Baloch: 3.2% .

Extensive efforts have been made to bring the Baloch and Sindhis on par with other ethnicities, presently the Army recruitment system is enlisting personnel district-wise irrespective of provincial boundaries. This decision has given a fair chance to every citizen of Pakistan to be part of the Pakistan Army as each district possesses a fixed percentage of seats in all branches of the army, as per census records. Large numbers of men from Sindh and Balochistan have joined the ranks of the army and have proved their commitment and bravery to the national cause in Kargil and the ongoing global war on terrorism.[40][46]

Women and non-Muslim Pakistanis[edit]

Women have served in the Pakistan Army since its foundation. Currently, there is a sizeable number of women serving in the Pakistan Army. Most women are recruited in the Army to perform medical and educational work. There is also a Women’s Guard section of Pakistan’s National Guard where women are trained in nursing, welfare and clerical work and there are also women recruited in very limited numbers for the Janbaz Force. Only recently has Pakistan began to recruit women for combat positions and the Elite Anti-Terrorist Force in 2007, several female graduates were nominated to be Sky Marshals for Pakistan based airlines.[47] In addition recently eight of the 41 cadets from the Pakistan Military Academy at Kakul became the first women guards of honour.[48] Pakistan is the only country in the Islamic world to have female Major Generals in the Army.[49] Major General Shahida Malik was Pakistan’s first female two-star general.[citation needed]

Non Muslim Pakistanis are allowed to sit in all examinations and serve in any part of the Pakistan Army.

There have been numerous Christians who have risen to the rank of Brigadier; and in the 1990 the first Christian promoted to the rank of Major General was Julian Peter who commanded the 14th Div in Okara Cantt. In 2009 brigadier Noel Israel Khokhar, was also promoted to rank of Major General. Capt. Hercharn Singh, the first Sikh as Commissioned Officer in Pakistan Army. He was commissioned in Baloch Regiment. Currently, he’s serving as an ADC to a Corps Commander.

Recipients of Nishan-e-Haider[edit]

Nishan-e-Haider; Pakistan’s highest military award.

The Nishan-e-Haider (Urdu: نشان حیدر) (Sign of the Lion) is the highest military award given by Pakistan, ranking above the Hilal-i-Jur’at (Crescent of Courage). Nishan-e-Haider recipients receive an honorary title as a sign of respect: Shaheed meaning martyr for deceased recipients. As of 19 Sep 2013, all Nishan-e-Haider awards have thus far been given to the people engaged in battles with India.

Similar to the American Medal of Honor or the British Victoria Cross, it has only been awarded to 9 Pakistan Army personnel since 1947:

Name Unit Conflict Date Place of Death
Captain Muhammad Sarwar 2nd Battalion of the Punjab Regiment War of 1947 27 July 1948 Uri, Kashmir
Major Tufail Mohammad 16th Battalion of the Punjab Regiment 1958 Border clash with India 7 August 1958 Lakshmipur District
Major Aziz Bhatti 17th Battalion of the Punjab Regiment War of 1965 10 September 1965 Lahore District
Major Mohammad Akram 4th Battalion of the Frontier Force Regiment War of 1971 1971 East Pakistan
Major Shabbir Sharif 6th Battalion of the Frontier Force Regiment War of 1971 6 December 1971 Salmanki Sector, Kasur
Lance Naik Muhammad Mahfuz 15th Battalion of the Punjab Regiment War of 1971 8 December 1971 Wagah-Attari
Sawar Muhammad Hussain 20th Lancers, Armoured Corps War of 1971 10 December 1971 Zafarwal-Shakargarh
Captain Karnal Sher Khan 12th Battalion of the Northern Light Infantry Kargil War 5 July 1999 Kargil, Indian administered Kashmir
Havaldar Lalak Jan 12th Battalion of the Northern Light Infantry Kargil War 7 July 1999 Kargil, Indian administered Kashmir

Recipients of foreign awards[edit]

Two Pakistani pilots belonging to the army aviation branch of Pakistan Army who carried out a daring rescue of a mountaineer were given Slovenia’s top award for bravery. Slovenian, Tomaz Humar got stranded on the western end of the 8,125m Nanga Parbat mountain where he remained for around a week on top of the world’s ninth-highest peak. The helicopter pilots plucked the 38-year-old from an icy ledge 6,000m up the peak known as “killer mountain”.

The Slovenian President presented Lt Col Rashid Ullah Beg and Lt Col Khalid Amir Rana with the Golden Order for Services in the country’s capital, Ljubljana, for risking their lives during the rescue mission, a Pakistan Army statement said.[50]

Pakistan Army team was awarded a gold medal at the prestigious Cambrian Patrol Exercise held in Wales in 2010. According to ISPR, “Rawalpindi Corps team represented Pakistan Army in Exercise Cambrian Patrol – 2010, held from 11–13 October 2010 and by the Grace of Allah, the team showed an excellent performance by winning a Gold Medal in the event, which is a big honour not only for Army but for the Country as a whole.”[51][52][53][54]


The equipment currently in use by the Pakistan Army is divided into the following main sections: small arms, armour, artillery, aircraft and air defence systems. Most equipment of the Pakistan Army tends to be of either Chinese, European or American origin.


The Pakistan Army has a noteworthy sports program with elite athletes in many sports disciplines.[55] An example of the program’s success is its basketball program which regularly provides the Pakistan national basketball team with key players.[56]


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External links[edit]

Official websites
Web resources

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