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.!!!