After the passage of historic 18th Constitutional amendment, an editorial of monthly Hilal – a magazine published by the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) – marketed Pakistan’s armed forces as a true federal institution. Critics have always described Pakistan’s military as a ‘Punjab dominated institution’ in terms of their composition, soul and spirit. In 2007, an information brief by the ISPR certified that in 2001 Punjabis comprised over 71 percent of the army.
However, the annual report on observance and implementation of Principles of Policy (Article 29-40) in relation to the affairs of the federation (2011-12) laid before the Parliament in August 2014 comes as a pleasant surprise. The Article 39 of Constitution says that, “The State shall enable people from all parts of Pakistan to participate in the Armed Forces of Pakistan.” Unlike justice-able Fundamental Rights (Article 8-28) the implementation of Principles of Policy is dependent on availability of resources.
The report prepared by the Cabinet Division headed by the prime minister conveys a loud and clear message about the well thought out inclusive attempts to federalize the citizens in uniform. Unlike the prestigious civil services, there is no constitutionally guaranteed quota for the recruitment of people from various provinces in the armed forces. Nevertheless, affirmative action had been taken in the past. For example in July 1980, Sindh Regiment was raised to recruit Sindhis and pacify emerging resentment due to the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy against General Zia. In recent past, through similar affirmative action, about 10,000 officers and soldiers have been recruited from the troubled Balochistan since 2010.
The report highlights the various steps taken to ensure the participation of people from all parts of the country in the armed forces. These efforts included focused awareness campaigns and special incentives such as two-year waivers in the upper age limit and 10 to 20 percent relaxation in college scores for the candidates from rural areas of Sindh, Balochistan, Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and the Provincially Administered Tribal Areas.
Whatsoever is the current composition of the armed forces today, the strategy adopted during the reporting period – from July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2012 – for recruitment indicates that in the near future, we will have federalized citizens in uniform. An analysis of recruitment figures reveals that the largest province Punjab still sends the maximum number of officers (1,018, or 59 percent) to Kakul (Pakistan Military Academy) and Risalpur (Air Force Academy). However, Sindh provides more officers than Punjab to Pakistan Navy. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa remains second in the list for Pakistan Army and Pakistan Air Force. The story of 48,639 soldiers, sailors and airmen recruited during 2011-12 is a replica of the pattern of officers’ induction.
[quote]Out of 1,379 army officers, only 55 were from Balochistan[/quote]
The share of Balochistan in terms of officers in Pakistan Army still remains the lowest, at four percent. Out of 1,379 recruited officers only 55 were from Balochistan. In Pakistan Navy, out of 173 officers recruited during the period only 10 (6%) and in Pakistan Air Force out of the 171 officers only 7 (4%) were from Balochistan. In overall terms the share of Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan remains the lowest in Pakistan Navy (2%) and Pakistan Air Force (3.5%) in officer ranks.
Traditionally, women have performed medical, educational and public relations work in all the three branches of the armed forces. It was only in 2007 that they were recruited for combat positions. However, the report does not offer any gender segregated data to portray the emerging picture. Similarly the citizens of other faiths (non-Muslims) are entitled to join the armed forces, but the report does not offer any information about their inclusion.
The armed forces also recruit many civilians for various tasks. “All these recruitments strictly observe provincial and regional quotas as prescribed for all other civil departments,” the report says.
The report claims that the affirmative action and incentivized initiatives have resulted in many positive effects, including national integration and an improved image of the armed forces. The newly inducted officers and soldiers, as per this policy, are a source of inspiration for potential candidates from the backward areas.
One can hope that this positive awakening and concerted efforts and attempts to federalize the armed forces will cement federal bonds and alleviate the feelings of exclusion.