By: Abdul Basit Alvi
Few elements and proponents of anti-army sentiment make exaggerated claims and spread false speculations about Pak Army. These elements say that we cut our stomachs to keep our army while they spend our money on their luxuries. I have been quite worried about these false and baseless myths against the true defenders of our beloved homeland and always remain in search of finding the reliable content to counter this shit stuff. One of a very kind and reliable source recently forwarded me a very useful post of Mr. Shahid Khan containing very reliable and authentic information. As the subject is very important so I am presenting it here as it was received just to counter the false speculations and pay tribute to Pak Army for their remarkable services for Pakistan.
According to Shahid Khan, these people say that your defense budget is only for army salaries, weapons, ammo, vehicles, dry rations, missiles, ships and fuel. Apart from that, make your own arrangement for the rest. We don’t care if there is money or not. For example, only dry rations, sugar, oil, vegetables, meat and salt are available for soldiers. Arrange the spices etc yourself. For the two to three lakh soldiers who are deployed in FATA, Kashmir or Balochistan, there is no space in the defense budget for even dates and Roohafza for Iftar or any fruit.
Then he says that do you know how much rupees your defense budget gives per month for food and drink to a unit of Pakistan Army? A military unit’s monthly allowance apart from covering food and drinks, more than that is the kitchen of a large joint family these days. Not even mention of water coolers, ovens for baking bread, ovens for heating food, tea for guests and UPS etc. The defense budget does not include basic items for the use of soldiers such as chairs, tables or furniture.
Author further says that a soldier needs at least two uniforms for the entire year. While the annual stipend barely comes with a uniform. Have you ever seen a soldier in a bad uniform? The salary of a soldier of any rank will be more or less than that of any civil servant of the same rank. A married officer lives on very less salary. When his duty is away from home, half of his salary is spent only on travel expenses. However, they will never fail in duty.
For defense constructions, only cement, concrete and sand are available in the defense budget. The cost of transporting them, the skilled manpower and finally the labor is also borne by the soldiers. After all this work, they also have to do official duties for hours.
He further says that, a military unit receives one and often two-thirds less gasoline than its monthly requirement. If the unit is deployed at eight to ten check posts and is constantly patrolling and moving, the work is still expected to be done with limited fuel. Where everything doe from? The car battery has to be replaced in two years, if it gets damaged earlier, there is no capacity. Parts have a fixed period of time, but if they expire soon, then should military vehicles be parked? Ever seen military work stop? For all these, your defense budget tells the military to provide for itself.
He added that in this, the business that gives some support to the military is the most criticized after the military budget. At the time of the establishment of Pakistan, the Pakistan Army received a limited amount of funds to support the families of the martyrs. Instead of keeping it in the bank on interest, it was invested in business. The business started with this fund was spread to many sectors. 75% of the employees in this military business are civilians. 25% are retired army personnel. They have taken off their uniforms and are considered civilians. Its earnings have not only made it possible to better support the families of the martyrs, but have also made it easier to meet the expenses that are impossible to meet in our limited defense budget. Most of the criticism is directed at soldiers getting plots. Remember that no soldier gets free plot except Martyrs. After deducting money from salaries all the time, one gets a plot in old age. This work is also done in all civil government jobs. They include judiciary, police and WAPDA etc.
Further in his post Shahid Khan says, this army does not only give lives. Rather, the army is at the forefront in dealing with every emergency and natural calamity. You may not know that when Pakistan was attacked by locusts, experts said that it would eat 75% of Pakistan’s crops. It was a loss of around 8 to 9 billion dollars. Which is equal to our total defense budget. The army dealt with this locust and eliminated it. DHA has all over Pakistan in total, the land of around 10 thousand acres. In this too, most of the plots are sold to civilians. While civilian Societies have more than 1 million acres of land. But the criticism is only on DHA. DHA also forms a society by purchasing land in the same manner as other civil societies are doing. While the army has a complete record of this business and every penny is audited. Army and its subsidiaries are prominent in the list of taxpayers in Pakistan. If the army instead of keeping the provident fund frozen like other institutions, it circulates and improves the standard of living of the people, why criticize it? Just because it’s the most popular hobby on social media right now? Pakistan Army is one of the least paid forces in the world. So low that it seems like volunteering. 13000 soldiers and officers including generals have given their lives against terrorism alone. These sacrifices are possible with passion not with money.
Readers, Alongwith the details mentioned in the post of Shahid Khan, it is also speculated that Army Chief has nothing to do with soldiers and they keep a distance with them in normal routine which is totally wrong. Chief of Army Staff General Asim Munir spent Eid Day with Army personnel deployed along the Pak-Afghan border in Bajaur, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The Army Chief offered Eid prayers with the officers and men and appreciated their high morale. The Army Chief said that “Pakistan Army is committed to defend the borders and Pakistan Army is always ready to thwart any threat to ensure national integrity”. The army chief added that “Despite the difficult routes, harsh weather conditions and being away from their loved ones, the defenders of Pakistan put their duties first because there is nothing more sacred than protecting the borders.” The Army Chief paid great tribute to the martyrs and emphasized that on the day of Eid, we should never forget those who sacrificed their lives to defend the motherland and end the scourge of terrorism. The Army Chief especially expressed his best wishes for the families of the martyrs. Also, the Army Chief appreciated the operational readiness and diligence of the soldiers and officers. This act clearly counters the false speculation against the Army Chief.
They few people says that Army officers join civilian departments after retirement, they take huge remunerations and benefits and do nothing. I will give just one example to counter this baseless speculation. Current Chairman of WAPDA is doing a great job for restoration of NJHPP. The restoration work on the Neelum-Jhelum project made progress on even the Eid day, as a 150-foot collapsed portion of the tail race tunnel was restored. WAPDA Chairman Engineer retired Lt Gen Sajjad Ghani visited the Neelum-Jhelum Hydropower Project site and reviewed progress on the reconstruction work. On this occasion, the WAPDA chairman directed the authorities to resume power generation from the project by the end of July. He also praised the WAPDA project team, China’s Gezhouba Group Company and the consultants for making progress in the rehabilitation. During the briefing, the chairman was informed that the project rehabilitation work is underway in light of the report prepared by a panel of international experts. Officials said a hydraulic shutter is being installed for concreting in the tail race tunnel. Other works for rehabilitation of the project are also going on simultaneously. A risk analysis report by the consultants will be completed next month. It clearly shows that the current Chairman WAPDA is taking the issue on war foot basis. More or less same is the situation in all other departments where retired Army personnel have been appointed. They are contributing a lot for the development of the country.
Readers, the information mentioned above and the facts clearly show that all false and baseless speculations against Pak Army are wrong and don’t match with the ground realities. Our Army is doing its best with limited available resources and serving the country with full passion and loyalty.