Swanky towers, high-rise buildings looking over the vastness of a city, this is the image that comes to mind when we think of a multinational corporation. Owners being chauffeured around in the most luxurious of cars with a string of staff behind catering to their every whim and fancy. Any business is driven with the goal to earn profits and that is perfectly legitimate. However, this is obviously not something you’d associate with the army of a country. The army of a country is a selfless unit that functions under the ruling government and is funded by the government.
But when we speak of the Pakistan Army, the truth of its existence falls under the former category rather than the latter which is logically the expected one. The Pakistan Army has developed itself into a coterie of filthy-rich generals and high officials that conducts more businesses than military exercises.
In July 2016, the Pakistani senate was informed that the Pakistan armed forces were running more than 50 commercial entities worth over $20 billion! This is mind-boggling even though the forces’ power and clout in the country – led by the army – is well established. Also, to be powerful is one thing and to be rich through enterprise that shouldn’t be your working domain is totally another.
To assess the monetary might of this rogue institution, let’s compare it with Habib Bank which was the only Pakistani company to feature on the Forbes Global 2000 list for 2017 that ranks the biggest companies in the world.
Habib Bank was ranked 1819 with assets worth $24.1 billion, sales of $1.6 billion and profits of $325 million. Weigh the Pakistan armed forces against the biggest legitimate company in Pakistan and the bank is just 20% larger in terms of assets owned! One must also keep in mind that while the figures for Habib Bank will most likely present an accurate picture, the $20 billion number for the armed forces will, in most likelihood, not be close to the truth as the forces will want to mask its reality.
What do Pakistani generals own?
You name it and they own it. Petrol pumps, industrial plants, banks, bakeries, schools and universities, hosiery factories, milk dairies, stud farms, and cement plants, and much more.
But probably the most treasured of their possessions are the eight housing societies in eight major towns located at prime lands in well-manicured cantonments and plush civil localities. Lands are allotted to military personnel at highly subsidised rates. Even military awards are linked with the grant of farm lands and housing plots to military personnel.
These Pakistani generals are unbelievably rich. They live an exquisite life, better than most can even dream of. The disparity between the common man in Pakistan and the top people in the armed forces is stunning.
One reason why Pakistan’s military capability is highly overrated and why it has lost all wars against India is because its strategists – the generals and top officers – are people with bloated egos living lavishly and having no connection with the soldier on ground. They don’t care if the common soldier is getting killed due to their pathetic planning and strategizing; they have all the privileges of life and that’s all they care about.
This is also why Pakistan fears a full-blown military conflict with India. They won’t be able to survive India’s onslaught.