The Pakistan Army (Urdu: پاک فوج Pak Fauj (IPA: Pɑkʰ fɒ~ɔd͡ʒ); reporting name: PA) is the land-based uniform service branch of the Pakistan Armed Forces. The Pakistan Army came into existence after the independence of Pakistan in 1947. The Pakistan Army is a volunteer professional fighting force. According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) it has an active force of 725,000 personnel in April 2013. In addition there were around 500,000 reserves bringing the total to 1,225,000. The Constitution of Pakistan contains a provision for conscription, but it has never been imposed.
The primary mandate and mission of the army is to "dedicated to the service of the nation." Since establishment in 1947, the army (along with its inter–services: Navy, Marines and PAF) has been involved in four wars with neighboring India and several border skirmishes with Afghanistan. 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 include Operation 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. The Chief of Army Staff (In article 6 of Warrant of Precedence of Pakistan) is subordinate to the civilian Defence Minister (In article 5 of Warrant of Precedence for Pakistan) and senior to Secretary of Defence (In article 16 of Warrant of Precedence for Pakistan, the Secretary of Defence is even junior to a Lieutenant General who is placed in article 15 of Warrant of Precedence of Pakistan) commands the army. Although it is currently commanded by General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, the highest ranking army officer in the army is the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Khalid Shameem Wynne
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 the Lieutenant-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 reorganisation 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.
The headquarters function also includes the Judge Advocate General (JAG), and the Comptroller of Civilian Personnel, the Engineer-in-Chief of the Corps 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.
The Pakistan Army has developed a doctrine called the Riposte which is a limited "offensive-defence" 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:
- 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.
- ‘Strategic depth’ in the form of a friendly Afghanistan is deemed vital by military planners.
- 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 mobilisation 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 mechanised 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 centralised 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 mechanised 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.
The possibility of a major war of the sort against which earlier doctrines had eveolved came into question after May 1998 when both sides overtly demonstrated their nuclear capability.
The Kargil conflict and the military standoff with India in 2002 led to various stability theories being viewd with scepticism on both sides. India realised the need to drastically reduce the time taken to build up its forces from all over the country towards its western borders and strike early while Pakistani defences on the one hand and diplomatic manoeuvre on the other were still unprepared. To this end, the Cold Start Doctrine and its tactical extension, proactive operations were developed and practised by the Indian Army and later the Navy and the Airforce variants thereof. Against cold start and proactive operations, Pakistan began developing its response at the joint services level with notable changes in how the land forces viewed existential and future threat. The intellectual powerhouse for this was led by the Chielf of the Army Staff, the commandant of the Armed Forces War College, selected corps commanders and a team of senior brigadiers.
The Azm-e-Nau (New Resolve) series of war games were conducted and a new doctrine evolved. These exrcises and war-games culminated in the massive Azm-e-Nau 3 which was conducted in the deserts of Bahawalpur and upper Punjab in April and May 2010. The Army set up a doctrines concepts and development division under a top brigadier to evelove high, mid and low level doctrines for the army. The Pakistan Army Doctrine, Pakistan Defence Doctrine and a series of publications were developed between 2010 and 2011. Pakistan Army Doctrine with its main authors General Hanif and Brigadier General Zaidi is an opensource document and as such marks a turning point in Pakistan Army's approach to warfare and warfighting in the wake of new challenges. Traditionally secretive and protective of its doctrines, the Pakistan Army Doctrine, when it becomes openly available, would be the first time that Pakistan allows greater insight to its strategic thinking, workings and the use of military power..