This book should be very informative to outsiders. For Pakistanis, Dr. Siddiqa has discovered the obvious, not hidden from any Pakistani. Dr. Siddiqa probably has done good research work to gather facts (numbers), an effort not easy in that country. Her research is very narrow, focused largely on Milbus and the data around it--we now know the dollar value of "milbus." In doing so, it seems either the learned doctor is not an astute student of the history of Pakistan Vis-avis Army and its polity or she turned biased and has misinformed her audience. When it come to numbers and the Army's various organizations out to make a buck--quite right, but who is the beneficiary of revenues from acts of "milbus"? That balanced view is missing from her book. The other side of "milbus" need mentioning in her book--mostly retired soldiers and their families benefit. Milbus could also have been presented as the armies "Welfare Program," which an author with a balanced approach would not have missed. The country being poor and the democratic politicians mostly corrupt are not able to manage much; I find the act of "milbus" necessary to offer its veterans welfare. Dr. Siddiqa's research is NOT factual in terms of its history--for example contents of chapter 10. In chapter 10, Dr. Siddiqa stops short of giving opinion of other authors who have written extensively on subjects that she is addressing and is equally a valid claim. The author fail at times not telling the other side of the coin. I find her approach not being objective. Please see the following example.
In chapter 10, Dr. Siddiqa says, "The Pakistan military's economic interests are the result of the defence establishment's political clout..........in 1950s, the military gradually encroached into politics..." is not truthful based on overwhelming data by other authors. In 1949 the military had no political clout--today they do. Pakistan was created on the basis of democracy in 1947 and this relatively new democracy exercised greater power and clout than the new army of that day. A fact nicely narrated by an author, Brig. M. Hamid-Ud-Din, in his book, "Looking Back" and reader can be the judge of authenticity of that information. History shows that army was treated with disrespect by civil servants after Pakistan's independence. Civil government would not attend to officers when they visited their offices. The list is rather lengthy. The morale of the army was low, and the army's designs for India to address the Kashmir issue, which India was and is in violation of the terms of independence lacked support, mainly with General Gracey--a British officer, the then Chief of the Pakistan Army and due to Mr. Liaqat Ali Khan's unconventional approach to X-Gen. Akbar, explained later, seems a likely cause that India was not addressed, is a point of view of other authors. Hence, the army could not have done much regarding India that the author alludes to. Polity was the main lever then and they failed to address the Kashmir issue with India. After some years, the low morale of the army forced them to exercise their brute power, a brute power which the new democracy never had and the army's unjustified coup de ta was uncovered. That event made the new democracy think and gave the army basic privileges such as discount on fare tickets etc and the like. The military never encroached into politics then. It was Pakistan's great leader, Mr. Liaqat Ali Khan, who approached X-Gen. Akbar in an unconventional manner on the Kashmir matter. Why did Mr. L.A. Khan approached ONLY X-Gen. Akbar? X-Gen. Akbar was dragged into the mess, again read the above referenced book and a book written by X-Gen. Akbar, I believe it is called The Raiders of Kashmir.
It would have been interesting to know the point of view of Dr. Siddiqa, why Pakistan army officers opted for "milbus" and military regimes and not the Indian army, when both the armies were made from the same lot, all had graduated from either Sandhurst Military Academy, UK or IMA? Approach as such by the author would have made her book quite objective. Nonetheless, for a while now the army is committing acts of "Milbus", the author never indulges into if "milbus" is due to first the incompetency of polity or is due to some other factors. Rediscovering the obvious and attaching a dollar value to "milbus" is an accounting exercise and it does not fit the category of philosophic intellectual analytic wisdom, which I wished it did. The author should have spent time in explaining possible reasons for the army's involvement in acts of "milbus" and possible fixes, is my expectation from an objective writer.
It is an exercise of either Dr. Siddiqa got exhausted or she ran out of facts and could not find any more dirty laundry and ended the book. Or is it the author got paid to write this book and hence the likely direction. It is all of that, but NOT a constructive approach to making matters better. Pakistan needs a visionary and an analytical writer to get that country out of the center of paralysis.
Indeed, a courageous step Dr. Siddiqa took--from bright minds, which I believe she is, one should expect to provide the under pining of why Pakistan Army is involved in "Milbus" and its fix. A chapter or two to that end would have been an absorbing read and the book would have served well--her country. I gave it three stars because it is an academic exercise with data that Dr. Siddiqa was not able to put to good use. Sadly, the author ends her research at that. Four chapters of that would have been fine, it would have given a reader the same compelling message that she tries in some nine chapters, a fact well know inside Pakistan.
I would like this author to give us her second take, what are the causes and what is needed to fix "milbus." With an objective approach, I am sure she will make new friends at Military, Inc.!!!