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Military Inc.: Inside Pakistan's Military Economy [Paperback]

Ayesha Siddiqa
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

May 9 2007
Pakistan has emerged as a strategic ally of the United States in the "war on terror." It is the third largest recipient of U.S. aid in the world. But how stable is Pakistan? Ayesha Siddiqa shows how the military has gradually gained control of Pakistan's political, social, and economic resources. T his power has transformed Pakistani society, where the armed forces have become an independent class.

The military is entrenched in the corporate sector and controls the country's largest companies and large tracts of real estate. So Pakistan's companies and its main assets are in the hands of a tiny minority of senior army officials. Siddiqa examines this military economy and the consequences of merging the military and corporate sectors. Does democracy have a future in the new Pakistan? Will the generals ever withdraw to the barracks. Military Inc. analyzes the internal and external dynamics of this gradual power-building and the impact that it is having on Pakistan's political and economic development.

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Ayesha Siddiqa's book covers a major gap in the literature on contemporary Pakistan. For many years journalists and other analysts, on the basis of anacdotal evidence, have remarked that Pakistan's military has a major interest in the economy. Military Inc. is the first serious attempt to provide some facts and figures to substantiate that claim. -- Owen Bennett Jones, Asian Affairs, March 2008 This bold book explains why it will be so difficult to persuade the Pakistani military to renounce political power and return to the barracks. It is a must read for anyone who cares about Pakistan or its future. -- Lee H. Hamilton, President and Director, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars In examining the nature and consequences of the Pakistani military's involvement in the economy, Dr. Siddiqa shows in great detail how the economic benefits that military officers can obtain when in or close to the seat of power stimulate them to solidify their political position in order to retain and expand those economic benefits. -- Nicole Ball, Senior Fellow, Center for International Policy, Washington DC This book for the first time links two literatures: the comparative study of the role of the military in the politics and economics of states around the world, and the study of the role of the Pakistan army. ... As Dr. Siddiqa points out, this relationship raises profound questions about Pakistan's future. ... A must-read. -- Stephen P. Cohen, Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy Studies, Brookings, and author of "The Pakistan Army" and "The Idea of Pakistan" A vital piece of the complex puzzle as to why the Pakistan army have become so powerful. Complex, riveting, absorbing, Siddiqa has written a vitally important book which enhances our understanding of the army on the front line in the war on terror. ... Siddiqa provides us with the first understanding of the workings of one the most secretive armies in the world -- Ahmed Rashid, Far Eastern Economic Review An incisive look at the largely hidden economic empire run by and for the benefit of Pakistan's military. This courageous book will not please Pakistan's generals. But no Pakistani, civilian or military, can afford to ignore its sobering analysis. -- Robert M. Hathaway, Director, Asia Program, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

About the Author

Ayesha Siddiqa is a military analyst with a PhD in War Studies from King's College, London. She contributes regularly to Jane's Defence Weekly. She was the 'Pakistan Scholar' at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars at Washington, DC for 2004-05.

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5.0 out of 5 stars Better Late Than Never Aug. 5 2009
By S. Syed
A truly genuine piece of hard work and a masterpiece by Ayesha Siddiqa. She goes in to much depth regarding Pakistan Armed forces' commercial interests and venture that are spread throughout the country. It is a great service that the author has rendered for Pakistan and should serve as a wakeup call for its people to begin to demand from their armed forces to return to their role as envisaged in the constitution.

No wonder the entire military establishment was up in arms against Ayesha Siddiqa for having this book published. They felt threatened by the exposure of their countless activities that went contrary to their role of 'protectors of the motherland'. Its time the Pakistan Armed Forces became less prominent in society, continued their current position as loyal soldiers to the civilians government and institutions while safeguarding Pakistan from external and internal threats.
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Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars  12 reviews
32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Daring but substantive June 20 2007
By Saleem Ali - Published on Amazon.com
Writing about the military in Pakistan can be risky business and the author of this book has shown tremendous courage in publishing this important work. However, the merit of this book is not because it is daring but rather because of the intellectual rigor and empirical detail provided. Unlike anti-establishment provocateurs who can often claim courage of conviction but not much else, Dr. Siddiqa has provided us with a well-substantiated account of financial hegemony in the military that deserves applause. While recognizing the vital importance of the military itself, the book unravels how essential security can be easily manipulated to accumulate wealth for a powerful elite.

The author starts with a structural premise that defines the phenomenon of "milbus" as "military capital used for the personal benefit of the military fraternity, especially the officer cadre, which is not recorded as part of the defence budget." She then goes on to situate this concept within the larger literature on the military industrial complex. Her lucid prose is also augmented by clear, tables, organizational charts, graphs and Venn diagrams. Her findings are staggering: for example, the amount of land owned by military officers through subsidized schemes amounts to $4.6 billion. The military pensions being offered are five times the amount for civilian officers. The role of the Fauji Foundation and other military organizations in running commercial enterprises that range from cereal manufacturing to running schools is astounding.

The usual argument given by proponents of milbus is that the military is the most disciplined organization and can do everything more efficiently. Yet, this logic is defied by most of the world's leading economic powers where development has occurred through private enterprise by educated and responsible citizens. Perhaps the author could have spent more time in evaluating these arguments. Nevertheless, given the range and scope of the matter at hand, Dr. Siddiqa has done a marvelous job with this manuscript. One can only hope the military will not feel threatened by this constructive criticism and use the the book as a means for initiating reform.
19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Military Business Exposed May 27 2007
By Zeeshan-ul-hassan Usmani - Published on Amazon.com
The book is not only first of its kind on the secrets of Military Economics in Pakistan, it also contains the lessons a nation should learn on the limits of military engagements in civil insitutions.

Well written, and a brave effort.

5 stars
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not all information factual--Visionary None Aug. 21 2011
By Amazon user - Published on Amazon.com
This book should be very informative to outsiders, but not sure how they will test if all is factual. 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," but no solutions. 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 and I have no basis to validate statistics, but who is the beneficiary of revenues from acts of "milbus"? This other side of "milbus" need mentioning in her book--mostly retired soldiers and their families benefit. In the U.S., we have veterans set aside quotas.That balanced view is missing from her book. Milbus could also have been presented as the army's "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 jobs/welfare and if it makes revenues for the army within the constitution, then no harm. I will not point all, but 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 their's 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. If civil is incompetent, military must then have economic programs to support its infrastructure and it is civil that brought the army into running country and gave them an opportunity to learn the business of economics. In 1950s, 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 readers can be the judge of authenticity of that information. The army's political journey is all due to the civil leadership incompetency and they did not encroached, they were dragged into politics. History shows that army was treated with disrespect by the civil servants after Pakistan's independence, trickling from the personalities at the top--many were feudal lords. For example, the civil government would not attend to army officers when they visited civil offices--made them wait outside. The list is rather lengthy. The morale of the army was low. Adding to that, the Kashmir issue was pending; the civil did not do much about it. The two stated reasons were the prime reasons of a first trace of army coming into a political system--a failed coup foiled by the army in 1951, many authors have not justified. Till this point the army had not encroached and detailing the following events would show why the author is wrong. India was and is in violation of the terms of independence--grabbed Kashmir. Quaid-e-Azam M. Ali Jinnah (the father of Pakistan) understood the importance of Kashmir, requested Gen. Gracey--a British officer, the then Chief of the Pakistan Army to send troops to Kashmir, which he refused. Thereafter, Quaid passed away and the matter had to be addressed. Mostly incompetent feudal lords were left to lead the new democracy; the civil government did not approach the Kashmir matter with strategic wisdom as Quaid. Due to Mr. Liaqat Ali Khan's (Mr. LAK), the Governor General of Pakistan, incompetence and unconventional approach to X-Gen. Akbar about the Kashmir matter, explained later, the Kashmir issue was not properly addressed. Hence, the army could not have done much regarding Kashmir or India that the author alludes to. Polity was the main lever then and they failed to address the Kashmir issue with India. After the failed coup, the new government came to senses and gave the army basic privileges such as discount on fare tickets and the like. The military never encroached into politics then, but it warrants explaining Mr. LAK's unconventional approach to X-Gen. Akbar. Per the author Brig. Hamid, Mr. LAK, privately approached X-Gen. Akbar on the Kashmir matter. Why did Mr. LAK approached ONLY X-Gen. Akbar in private where there were other senior generals to him? The issue should have been discussed with Joint Chiefs and other senior officers. X-Gen Akbar would have had his say to explain his views and matter would have been addressed jointly not leaving the burden on one shoulder. X-Gen. Akbar was dragged into the mess, consequentially made it his affair. Akbar realizing Mr. LAK did not find the matter serious as Quaid, in isolation he considered, it was his patriotic duty to take Kashmir matter into his own hands. X-Gen. Akbar thought coup was the only option. Again read the above referenced book and a book written by X-Gen. Akbar, The Raiders of Kashmir. Later, when the civil could not handle the civil unrest, they requested Martial Law and the civil government recommended for Gen. Ayub Khan to co-share power with President Iskandar Mirza. That would bring the chronology to 1958. After 20 days of Martial Law, Gen. Ayub Khan took over and President Mirza was sent to exile. With these facts, there was no encroachment. I might add another interesting trivia--a British author had written, after Quaid's death and LAK's assassination, the sister of the father of the nation, Ms. Fatima Jinnah, approach Gen. Ayub two months before he took over and suggested to Gen. Ayub that the country needed a few years of tight rule. It is testimony to the fact that the civil were not capable of managing Pakistan. It was in Gen. Ayub's regime that Pakistan GDP growth rate was the highest, some 8-10 percent. Not liking military rule is fine, but creating facts or not stating what other authors have argued does not give readers a factual or a balanced view.

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 analytic 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.!!!
16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Effort May 31 2007
By A. Tariq - Published on Amazon.com
Hinderance in releasing this book in Pakistan is a clear indication of the authenticity of this book. Lessons to be learned.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Why you should buy Military Inc. Jan. 27 2008
By Raymond Turney - Published on Amazon.com
I bought this book because Pakistan has recently been in the news, and sad to say will probably be in the news again. Since the author received death threats when the book was published and wisely left Pakistan, it seemed that she had earned my support, and also that the book had hit a nerve.

The background for the book is the theory, originating among US academics, that the military is the most modern institution in developing societies, and that a politically strong military will therefore develop a country. This view is associated with Morris Janowitz and Samuel Huntington. Being Pakistani, Ayesha Siddiqa has noticed that their theory has not worked. She explains why in this book.

The book covers: the theoretical concept of Milbus, which she introduces; the Pakistani military; the political history of Pakistani; the four foundations that run the major investments of the Pakistani military; diversion of state land to private purposes in the interest of senior military officers; the cost of Milbus; and some speculations about its likely impact on the future of Pakistan. These appear sound to a non-expert on the Pakistan army.

If asked to state her general thesis, I would use a metaphor that she does not, and say that the suggestion that the military can develop a developing country in effect casts it in the role of a Marxist vanguard party. It has some advantages in this role, notably including greater administrative competence than a Marxist vanguard party usually has. But it lacks a concept of the revolutionary transformation of society, and it has a entirely different mission from social development, which is national defense. It is subject to the same tendency to corruption as a Marxist vanguard party. So the military can develop society to a certain extent, but does so in the interest of military officers, who become a class in the Marxist sense themselves. Corruption, diversion of public resources to private purposes, etc, which are a big issue with Marxist vanguard parties in power, are also serious problems with military led development. The author claims, and makes a fairly good case to support her claim, that the economic interests of the military both increase its political power, and give it an incentive to expand its political power rather than "returning to barracks".

It is not clear how large a portion of Pakistan's economy the military controls, but a few figures she offers near the end suggest that it is anywhere from 3-10%.

This book is an academic sociological work, not a call to action. It adheres to the conventions of academic work, meaning that it has a lot of jargon and is fairly difficult to read. It also addresses a specific problem, not just the military but military involvement in business. Pakistan has enough other problems that this should not be used as an introduction to the sociology of Pakistan.

That said, I hope she sells a lot of copies.

In the US we're relying on the Pakistani army, so we should know something about its downsides, and why many Pakistanis are not wild about it. The fact that the Pakistani army is arguably not really a national institution, because its personnel are recruited almost exclusively from the Punjab and the NW Frontier, has interesting implications.

In short, I agree with Lee Hamilton and Ahmed Rashid, who recommend the book.
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