On 14th and 15th August 1947, two nations were created. And two armies were carved out of the British Indian Army. On the day of creation, both armies were twins in every way. The commands, language, training, indoctrination, weaponry, ideology and ethos were carbon copies of the other.
The Indian Army remains a professional army, true to its roots. It believed in, and continuous to believe in, civilian supremacy. It has never tried to unsettle the democratic dispensation or called for the military to have more than a just say in affairs of national security. Though it is absolutely nationalistic, its DNA has remained, ethically; exactly the way the British left it – professional, apolitical and secular.
The Pakistan Army took a different trajectory. After the death of Jinnah, it realized that Pakistan had no ideological depth. It filled a political vacuum left by unscrupulous politicians and landlords, and a supine bureaucracy. Somewhere along the way, the Pakistan Army cut its umbilical cord with the British Indian Army and took on the moral DNA of its exploitative predecessor, the East India Company.
It craved Arabian roots, abhorring its actual sub-continental identity. A Pakistani would take (and still takes) great pains to point out that his ancestors were Arabic, Central Asian, Turks or Persian. It got what it craved for; the mindset of medieval tribal Arabia and the greed of the East India Company.
It shunned its original motto “Unity, Faith, Discipline” and adopted the Wahhabi “Iman, Taqwa Jihad fi-Sabilillah”; Faith, Piety and Holy War in the Path of Allah. Jihad is the cornerstone of Pakistan Army’s philosophy. Jihad is not just a war with India fought for a specific purpose or time. It is a mindset, which exhorts eternal conflict, placing holy war at the epicenter of Pakistan’s relationship with India. This was perhaps the greatest gift of General Zia-ul Haq to Pakistan.
Pakistan was the need of angry Muslim landed gentry, which looked at itself as a natural heir to the Mughal Empire. Democracy would ensure that the numerically superior Hindu would be in a position of power. The landowner and the commoner would both have one vote. The “sons of rulers” would be equal to their servants. A democratic India was simply not acceptable. United India would need to be partitioned.
And so Pakistan was created on 14 August 1947, and with all its insecurities and complexes, became a nation state, midwifed by British cunning and the primeval Wadera instinct for survival. It was sustained on a steady diet of eternal conflict. When your entire identity is “we who are not India”, there is no space for anything else on the table.
This eternal conflict needed Pakistan to become a security state. Its heroes would have to be warriors. There was no room in the Pakistani mind-space for the ideals of Gandhi, Mandela or Martin Luther King Jr. A ‘warrior nation’ would have to be ruthless because Jihad was not for the faint hearted. They would need ideals like Ghauri, Ghaznavi, Aurangzeb and Babur.
And this freshly minted Jihadi army would need a lion’s share of an impoverished nation’s resources, year on year. The officer class would have to be seen to be elite, with appearances to match. All this required massive funds. The Pakistan nation could go with a road and a meal less, but the army would never lack for anything. After all, there was the Hindu enemy to contend with. “Cunning, emaciated and black” though he may have been, in the words of Gen. Ayub Khan, he was still numerous. The teeming multitude of idol worshippers to the East posed a real danger to the existence of Pakistan, the ‘Qila’ or fortress of Islam.
Somewhere along the way, the good generals of GHQ Rawalpindi realized that living off the fat of the land was not enough. They wanted more. It was not enough simply to steal. The theft would have to be institutionalized. The people of Pakistan would have to be grateful that they were being robbed.
In 1954, the Fauji Foundation was created as a charitable trust. The overt aim of this organization was to be a ‘welfare trust for veterans and their families’. The covert aim was personal enrichment of the Pakistan Army’s officer class.
Daylight robbery was clothed in a garb of patriotism. And a grateful nation swallowed it hook, line and sinker.
According to verified foreign sources, the Fauji Foundation today is worth a little more than USD 20 billion. “The Pakistani military’s “welfare foundations” run thousands of businesses worth tens of billions of dollars, ranging from street-corner petrol pumps to sprawling industrial plants” says Ayesha Siddiqa, the author of Military Inc: Inside Pakistan’s Military Economy.
Click on the website of Fauji Foundation www.fauji.org.pk and what you will see is a complex web of companies run by serving and retired officers of the Pakistan Army. They tell a story of a business conglomerate that exploits everything from poultry, petroleum, energy, manpower, security, cement, gas, cereal, fertilizer and stock trading. That is just a part of the story. Read the Al Jazeera article on the Fauji Foundation and you will realize what the inside story is.
The actual play here is real estate; over a million acres of it, owned or indirectly controlled by the army. Every year the Pakistan Army appropriates hundreds of acres of real estate through Defence Housing Societies spread over the breadth of Pakistan. Land is taken from local development authorities at basement rates. Local by-laws are brazenly flouted; routes of highways changed, land used tweaked for enhanced mixed-use development, FAR (floor area ratio) increased and power stations inaugurated and voila, you have prime real estate created out of thin air.
Its not just fallow land that is purloined at gunpoint. Thousands of acres of Pakistan Railway land have been forcibly occupied by the nation’s army. The Railways did try once to take back the land. A strong letter was sent to GHQ Rawalpindi demanding that the land be handed over to the “actual owners” immediately. The letter demanded a meeting so that the handing over of the land could be done expeditiously. Legend has it that the army’s response was to send a truck full of soldiers and an army Major in an SUV for the ‘meeting’ with the Railways. After 30 minutes, the Railways officials had a change of heart. They decided that it was in the national interest that the Pakistan Army keeps the land. That was the last that anyone heard of the matter.
Pakistanis sometimes fail to understand that national security is paramount. But when the Pakistan Army explains the concept, rationality dawns.
The Fauji Foundation trades on the Karachi Stock Exchange through Foundation Edge (www.fsedge.com). Foundation Edge ‘plays’ the stock market. It’s a mutually beneficial scam. If you invest in Fauji Foundation, your investment is profitable. Lets say you have investments in Fauji Fertilizer. The distributor of your closest competitor may get calls from the tax officials; his goods may be seized at the state border, his electricity connection cut for no obvious reason and his employees harassed. The Pakistan Army virtually guarantees that if you invest in it, you can’t go wrong.
When a Fauji Foundation company applies for a government contract, it is a brave Prime Minister who will question the tender. Questions are not asked because the Fauji Foundation is the mother ship of retirement funds; a veritable Croesus, a bottomless pit of pelf. And the Pakistan Army protects it.
Officers of the Pakistan Army are guaranteed that when they leave the army, they will receive land and a well paying job way beyond petty considerations of relevant education, experience and merit.
As I have said before, the Pakistan Army is Teflon coated. Pervez Musharraf is considered by many in Pakistan to be relatively clean. He is not named in any scam or kickback expose. And yet, Musharraf is worth hundreds of million of dollars. The story by Geo TV is self-explanatory.
The Foundation runs over 50 companies (and thousands of businesses) and is involved in almost every kind of trade, from oil refineries to petrol pumps. No business house in Pakistan has that kind EBITDA. And no one certainly, by extension, has that kind of cash flow.
The Foundation is one of the few reasons why Pakistan will avoid a conventional war with India. Because of it, life is good and the winds are favorable. Generals find post retirement work at fantastic salaries and perks, and the incentives are just too good to believe; all paid for by the people of Pakistan who buy products and services offered by the Foundation, and at prices decided by the Foundation. The Foundation’s revenue leaks when the good Generals of Rawalpindi decide that it should. Pockets are lined and generals are happy.
The Pakistan Army has never won a war against India also because the East India Company was essentially a trading company. The army was an extension of its trading arm; something of a support structure. The main aim of the Company was trade. The Pakistan Army is fast catching up.
Jihadis are a cheaper option. They are ideological warriors, not professional soldiers. Their death is of no consequence. But when soldiers and officers of the Pakistan Army die in a war against India, it shakes the structure on which the Pakistan Army rests. By extension, it shakes the Fauji Foundation because war cannot end without vertical escalation. And vertical escalation always means massive economic damage.
It will be interesting to see how the Fauji Foundation benefits from the China Pakistan Economic Corridor. It will use influence, coercion, bribe and chicanery to get a foothold into the USD 46 billion dollars cake. The CPEC is Chinese daylight robbery, and the Fauji Foundation will want to ‘wet it’s beak’ in the accepted Sicilian tradition.
If there is money to be made, The Foundation will find a way. It always does.
Major Gaurav Arya (Veteran)