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The Brief History of Pakistan's Military Industrial Complex

The Pakistani military has repeatedly participated in several conflicts by sending its troops and instructing other militaries and security forces. The most notable conflicts include the following: 

Yemen Civil War: Pakistan has been supporting the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen militarily, including by sending mercenary Pakistani soldiers there as part of that support. 

Afghanistan: During the Soviet-Afghan War and later during the civil war, the Northern Alliance received training and support from the Pakistani military, and more recently, Pakistan has been involved in training and supporting the Afghan security forces. 

Gulf War: During the Gulf War in 1991, Pakistan sent several troops to support the coalition forces. 

Somalia: In the early 1990s, Pakistan sent troops to help with the UN peacekeeping mission there. 

Bosnia: In the 1990s, Pakistan sent troops to help with the UN peacekeeping mission there. 

Kargil War: In the Kargil district of Indian-administrated Kashmir, Pakistan sent troops across the Line of Control in 1999 to seize some strategically important peaks.

War on Terror: Pakistan has actively participated in the U.S.-led War on Terror by aiding coalition forces through training and logistical support and carrying out its military operations against terrorist organizations. 

Operation Zarb-e-Azb: To eliminate terrorist safe havens, Pakistan launched a significant military operation against the Taliban and other militant groups in the North Waziristan region in 2014. 

Balochistan insurgency: Since the 1970s, the Pakistani military has engaged in counter-insurgency operations against separatist organizations in Balochistan.

Role in Industrial and Economic Sectors:

The Pakistani military is involved in various economic sectors, such as industry, construction, and finance. The military runs several significant industrial conglomerates, such as:

  1. The Pakistan Aeronautical Complex

  2. Heavy Industries Taxila

  3. Pakistan Ordnance Factories (PAC)

These companies produce various military equipment, such as tanks, artillery, fighter jets, and other weapon systems.

The National Logistics Cell (NLC) and the Frontier Works Organization (FWO), two significant construction firms that work on critical infrastructure projects like highways, bridges, and airports, are both under the control of the military.

The military also controls many critical financial institutions, such as:

  1. The National Development Finance Corporation (NDFC)

  2. Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited

These organizations lend money to various economic sectors, such as housing, small and medium-sized businesses, and agriculture.

The Fauji (Military) Foundation:

The Fauji Foundation is another conglomerate (and charitable trust) under the Pakistani military's control. It works in several industries, including cement, fertilizer, power production, the marketing of liquefied petroleum gas, and gas exploration and production. The foundation runs some businesses under the Fauji name, including:

  1. the Fauji Oil Terminal and Distribution Company

  2. the Fauji Fertilizer Company

  3. the Fauji Cement Company.

Real Estate:

Leading Pakistani real estate developer Bahria Town is owned by the Bahria Foundation, a nonprofit organization under Pakistan Navy control. The Pakistan Air Force subsidiary Fazaia operates in several industries, including real estate, education, and housing.


The military establishment also controls several other brands, including banks, insurance firms, cornflake brands, housing societies, and other businesses. These include:

  1. Askari Bank

  2. Askari Leasing

  3. Askari Cement

  4. Askari Aviation

  5. Askari Defense Services

  6. Habib Bank Limited

  7. United Bank Limited. 

Pakistan's military has been accused of collaborating with extremist groups while profiting from the above businesses.

Violence for Foreign Aid:

In the book Military Inc. - Inside Pakistan's Military, Ayesha Siddiqa traces the origins of the military's economic power to the early years of Pakistan's history when the military became involved in economic development projects. She argues that this involvement grew over time, and the military became deeply involved in the country's economic affairs. She also examines the military's involvement in the country's political system, including its role in coup d'etats and its influence on foreign policy, and that the United States has supported the Pakistani military's economic and political power, by providing significant military and economic assistance to Pakistan over the years. She suggests that this assistance has enabled the military to dominate the country's political and economic systems.

The military has been accused of creating a state of "insecurity" and war in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces to receive US aid. In recent years, civil rights activists have protested against the Pakistan army for treating the Baloch and Pashtun people as disposable bodies to get billions of dollars from the US to eradicate "extremist outfits" while also displacing millions of locals in military operations, exploiting their resources and killing the people in the carefully orchestrates play of "security" and "insecurity."

In 2020, Ahsan Ullah Ahsan of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, the mastermind of a deadly school attack in Peshawar in 2014 and several other suicide bomb blasts in Pakistan, mysteriously "escaped" to Turkey under Pakistan's intelligence agencies' watch, raising suspicions.

In 2021 General Faiz Hameed, Pakistan's former DGISI, was in Kabul when the Taliban took power, congratulating the new regime and showing Pakistan's support for the Taliban.

In 2023, a suicide bomb by the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan in a mosque near Peshawar Police Lines killed over 100 people.

These are just a few instances pointing at a pattern that raises more questions about the military's dual relationship with terrorists and foreign aid.


Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement leaders like Manzoor Pashteen, Mohsin Dawar, and Ali Wazir have spoken profusely on how the Pakistani military created such insecurity and terror and how the Pashtun, tribal Pashtun in particular, suffered. They bravely called out the military in their public protests with their slogan, "ye jo dehshatgardi hai, iskay peechay wardi hai," [the (military) uniform is behind the terrorist.] They were tried for sedition and imprisoned. Furthermore, National Assembly Member Ali Wazir, who had lost 18 relatives to terrorism in Waziristan, served 20 months for speaking out against the Pakistani military.

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