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Gen. Kayani launches reforms in Pakistan Army

ISLAMABAD: Army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has introduced major reforms in the Pakistan Army despite many financial problems, with a major shift in the profile of who will be recruited more than others.

The Army has started decreasing the number of Punjabis and Pashtuns in fresh recruitments and adopted the policy of encouraging Baloch, Sindhis and religious minorities for making an ethnic balance.

The Pakistan Army has a total number of 480,000 troops. Currently, the percentage of Punjabis in Pakistan Army is 55.82 per cent, Pakhtuns 15.42 per cent, Baloch 2.34 per cent, Sindhis 15.09 per cent and people from Azad Kashmir/Gilgit-Baltistan are 8.48 per cent. The number of non-Muslims in the Pakistan Army is just 0.43 per cent.

The GHQ has set a new target of decreasing the number of Punjabis from 55.82 per cent to 54.50 per cent, number of Pashtuns will come down to 14.50 per cent from 15.42 per cent while the number of Baloch will increase from 2.34 per cent to 4 per cent, Sindhis will increase from 15.09 percent to 17 per cent and recruits from Azad Kashmi/Gilgit-Baltistan will increase to 9 per cent from 8.48 percent by the year 2011. The number of non-Muslims will also increase from 0.43 per cent to 1 per cent by the next year.

This year, 3,350 Baloch got commission in the Army and 5,000 more Baloch are ready to get fresh commissions. The GHQ has especially relaxed many terms and conditions only for Baloch so that they may easily join the Army. General Kayani will inaugurate a new cadet college in Sui early next year. The geographical location of this new cadet college will not only facilitate the Baloch but will also help the young Sindhis and Seraikis from south Punjab to join the Pakistan Army.

It has been learnt that there is a sharp rise in the number of youngsters who applied for getting a commission in the Pakistan Army in the last two years, which indicates that this institution improved its reputation in recent years. The Pakistan Army played an important role in the last two years in defeating the Taliban in Swat and helping victims of floods a few weeks back.

Currently, more than 147,000 troops are deployed on western borders, including tribal areas, 100,000 troops are guarding areas bordering India, 10,000 troops are busy in the UN duties outside Pakistan, and 16,000 troops are busy in training while only 62,600 troops are enjoying rest in cantonments.

According to some observers, the Army is already over stretched and it needs some expansion but defence sources claimed that the overall size of the Army would not be increased. Many people think that salaries of Army soldiers and officers were increased recently and therefore, the Army had once again become very attractive for the lower and middle class youth but in reality increase in salaries had created many problems for the GHQ.

Few people are aware that the defence budget is on the decrease. It was 19 per cent of the GDP in 2006-7 but it is 16 per cent of the GDP in the financial year of 2010-11. The Pakistan Army is getting 46.83 per cent of the total defence budget while the rest is going to Air Force, Navy and the Ministry of Defense. The total defence budget was 3.9 billion dollars in 2003-4 but this year only 2.7 billion dollars were allocated for defence spending.

Last year, the Army was spending 56 per cent on establishment and salaries, 17 per cent on military operations, 44 per cent on sustenance and 10 per cent on maintenance. When the government increased the salaries without increasing the overall defence budget, the GHQ was forced to decrease its spending on sustenance and maintenance and this year the Army is spending 62 per cent on establishment and salaries.

This burden clearly created problems for the operational capabilities of the Army. This is one of the reasons that Pakistan Army is reluctant in starting a new operation in North Waziristan despite the fact that a big number of troops are already deployed in that area.

Sources claimed that the US and Nato forces had decreased their troops from areas of Paktia, Paktika and Kunar bordering North Waziristan and Bajaur. Pakistan Army commanders think if they start a new operation, the militants will easily get refuge in Afghanistan and there will be no use of spending money on a big operation.

An Indian national was arrested by the Pakistan Army on November 25 from the Janikhel area, which is very close to North Waziristan. He entered the NWA from Afghanistan very easily and there are apprehensions that militants active in the NWA are getting indirect help from the Indians based in eastern Afghanistan.

It is also interesting to note that Pakistan received more than 10 billion dollars from the US between 2002 and 2008 but the Pakistan Army received only 1.6 billion dollars. The government of Pervez Musharraf gave more money to civilian authorities than the Army.

Pakistan received 2.8 billion dollars after April 2008 from the US out of which the Army received just half the amount. According to defence experts, Pakistan is spending 7,818 dollars annually on one Army soldier while India is spending 27,171 dollars on each soldier. India has no major deployments on the borders of China and Bangladesh. The major chunk of the Indian Army is deployed along Pakistan borders, which is a matter of serious concern for the Pakistan Army commanders who have been forced by the US to focus more on the western borders rather than the eastern borders.


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