The Pakistan Army is a professional organization that is committed to the defense of the country and the protection of its citizens. Its sole purpose is to maintain the integrity and sovereignty of the state, and it has no interest or involvement in politics. There are several common myths that surround military service and qualifications. Unfortunately, these myths are often perpetuated by the media, popular culture, or even well-meaning but misinformed individuals. Let’s take a closer look at a few of these myths and separate them from the facts.
One myth about military service is that only individuals who are physically fit and have no health issues can join. While physical fitness is important for military service, there are a variety of roles within the military that do not require perfect health or athletic ability. Additionally, the military has programs and resources to help individuals improve their physical fitness and manage health issues.
Myth: Army officers and Jawans in Pakistan serve until the age of 60, like all government servants.
Reality: This is not true. Retirement in the Pakistan Army is based on rank and service, not age. For example, a Major usually retires at around 44 years old after completing 23 years of service. Generals retire at a specified age for their rank, with a Lt. Gen retiring before turning 57. Similarly, soldiers, Non-Commissioned Officers, and Junior Commissioned Officers also retire at different ages based on their specific service.
As a result, many army personnel retire when their children are in school and they have personal liabilities at their peak. That is why most of army persons need a job after they retire.
Another common myth is that only individuals with a high school diploma can join the military. While a high school diploma is preferred, individuals who have earned a GED or completed some college coursework may still be eligible for military service. In fact, some branches of the military even offer programs to help individuals earn their high school diploma or equivalent.
One common myth about the Army is that officers don’t need any qualifications to progress within the Army and retire with only an FA or FSc degree. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
The Army actually recruits young people who are able to undergo tough training, so those who have completed FA or FSc are encouraged to apply. Furthermore, promotions within the Army are based on strict competitive exams and educational degrees. Those who are unable to qualify for these exams are superseded at different ranks.
In fact, to become a General in the Army, one typically needs to have completed double masters or an MPhil degree. It’s interesting to note that some serving Generals, Brigadiers, and Colonels in the Army currently hold PhDs.
Moreover, the Army even encourages officers to pursue qualifications from abroad. Many of the Pakistan Army Chiefs, including Gen Asim Munir, have earned their Masters Degrees from foreign universities.
There is also a myth that the military only accepts individuals with a certain political or ideological view. In reality, the military is composed of individuals from diverse backgrounds and political beliefs. The military does not discriminate based on political or ideological views, as long as individuals meet the qualifications for service.
There’s a common misconception that anyone commissioned in the Army is automatically promoted. However, this is far from the truth.
In reality, the Army has one of the most stringent merit-based systems for promotions and progress. Only a certain percentage of all ranks are promoted to the next rank based on their performance, while the majority of personnel retire at junior ranks.
Moreover, all ranks have to pass different courses at various stages of their service for promotion, and their promotions must be supported by their performance on the ground, which is evaluated by their superiors.
Before the promotion, each rank has to prove their mettle in challenging areas, demonstrating their ability and suitability for the higher rank.
Army is involved in politics
Why are Army personnel’s children given preference over civilians even if they are not mentally or personality-wise suitable? Is it unfair to civilians who didn’t have family in the military? There’s a common misconception that only people from specific wealthy backgrounds, religions, and selected areas of Punjab can join the Army and be promoted. However, this is far from the truth.
The Army is a national institution that jealously guards its identity as such. It is the only institution in Pakistan that has representation from all districts of Pakistan and all provinces, allowing personnel of all ranks to serve in any part of the country, regardless of their background.
Preference is given to people from Potohar & adjoining regions
In the Army, anyone from any background and religion can rise to any rank based solely on their performance. Competence is the only criterion followed from induction to promotion until retirement.
In fact, several examples prove that people from diverse backgrounds have excelled in the Army. For instance, the son of a mason from Gilgit recently won the Sword of Honour at PMA. Likewise, General Kayani, who rose to the rank of Army Chief, came from a poor background.
Furthermore, officers from all provinces, including generals, are currently serving in the Army. General Ehsan hail from KP; while General Musharraf, General Ahsen Saleem Hyat, and General Yousaf come from Sindh; General Aziz is from AJ&K; General Kakar, General Musa, Gen Abdul Qadir Baloch from Baluchistan.
Another common myth surrounding the Fauji Foundation and other fauji organizations is that they don’t hire civilians and are funded by the defense budget, hence, they don’t pay any taxes.
However, the reality is quite different. In fact, the Fauji Foundation is headed by a civilian Managing Director, Mr. Waqar, and has more civilian employees than retired military personnel. Moreover, it has no direct link to the defense budget and is a self-sustaining organization that pays a considerable amount of taxes, making it one of the highest tax-paying entities in the country.
Just the other day, I had a conversation with a friend of mine who works in the personnel department of DHA. I was quite surprised to learn that 85% of the employees there are civilians, while the remaining 15% are retired army officers. It was definitely news to me.
The history of the Fauji Foundation dates back to 1945 when the Post War Services Reconstruction Fund (PWSRF) was established to help Indian War Veterans who served under the British Crown during WW II.
In essence, the Fauji Foundation serves as a prime example of a welfare organization that other entities could learn from.
Another myth is that military service is only for individuals who cannot find other employment opportunities. However, many individuals choose to join the military for a variety of reasons, including a desire to serve their country, gain job training and experience, or pursue educational opportunities. Military service can be a rewarding and fulfilling career choice.
One common misconception is that only the Army is allowed to have the Fauji Foundation and that no civil department can take care of their retired personnel. However, this is not true.
In fact, many government departments have their own foundations such as the Police Foundation, FBR Foundation, Punjab Govt Employees Foundation, and many others that take care of their retired employees.
The Fauji Foundation, in particular, has a transparent system of self-sustainability that has been key to its success. However, Govt. frees Army Welfare Trust from income tax. The price of products includes sales tax and there is no income tax, which is a major concern for other business owners. Additionally, there is a perceived monopoly in the market and heavy subsidies, such as Fauji Fertilizers receiving gas at 13% of the buying or import cost. Those interested in learning more about the situation can ask Nestle officials about porridge or read “Military Inc.”
Bajwa’s wife took 12.7 billion
There’s a common myth that only Army personnel reside in DHA and Askari Colonies. However, this is not true.
In reality, 97.8% of residents in all DHAs across Pakistan are civilians, and more than half of the residents in Askari Colonies are also civilians.
People often prefer to live in DHAs and Askaris due to the excellent facilities, clean and safe environment for families, and the assurance that no land grabbing can occur. Therefore, these areas have become the preferred choice for many people.
Border smuggling facility
Finally, there is a myth that military service is only for individuals who want to see combat. While combat is a reality for some military personnel, there are many roles within the military that do not involve direct combat. Individuals may serve in support roles such as logistics, administration, or intelligence, just to name a few.
The following are myths about free facilities for army officers, along with their realities:
Myth 1: Army officers pay no electricity bills & rent for their official residences. Reality: House rent is deducted at source for all officers, with higher-ranked officers paying more. All officers pay electricity bills as per government rates.
Myth 2: Army officers get a free house at retirement. Reality: Officers obtain membership in a housing scheme at the start of their service and pay monthly installments. The remaining amount is paid in a lump sum at retirement, which often consumes their complete gratuity.
Myth 3: Army officers get free plots in DHA. Reality: All officers pay for their plots at the rates applicable for that particular DHA. Installments are provided through a transparent system.
Myth 4: Only officers get plots, and lower ranks are not entertained. Reality: Pakistan Army has a transparent welfare system for its lower ranks, and all ranks are given plots. However, lower ranks are given plots at comparatively less price.
Myth 6: Maintenance of official residences is free. Reality: All officers pay 5% of their salary for maintenance on a monthly basis as long as they occupy the house.
Myth 7: Army officers have an exemption from income tax and all other taxes. Reality: Taxes of officers are deducted at source as per government rates even before the salary is credited to their bank account.
Myth 8: Army officers are exempted from toll tax. Reality: Army officers pay all toll taxes on motorways and NHA plazas while traveling in private cars. Only official vehicles are exempted.
Myth 9: Children of Army officers don’t pay any fees in APS and NUST. Reality: All ranks pay fees applicable for classes of their kids, and education institutions are being run on a self-help basis.
On a serious note: In reality, the Pakistan Army has never been involved in politics. All the martial laws that were imposed in the country were done so by the Royal British Army and the Indian Army.
Despite these realities, some people claim that the facilities provided to army officers are heavily subsidized, making luxury affordable for them. Others argue that some officers use their positions to obtain benefits such as land cruisers or furniture, while others report corruption in the allocation of resources. The issue is the abnormal use of power, which not only paralyzed the country but also benefited the generals on personal levels. Another fact is that all these facilities are at considerable concessions. Questions are often raised around the purpose of the Command Fund, what additional Service Benefits are, what Routine is, and what Sajjad Ghani did. Others question how a 21 & 22 Grade Officer with a salary of around 2.5 Lakh can afford an 8M house, or the number of plots and servants provided to higher-ranked officers. Some people criticize the attitude of some officers who seem to have high expectations from the public despite being fed, benefited from, and facilitated by them.
Just for laugh: The army should acknowledge that civilians have played a crucial role in making Pakistan a nuclear state. Instead, the army indulges in golf courses, businesses, and political engineering. We pay for their meals and they don’t follow our orders. It calls for accountability and adherence to Pakistan’s constitution.
We all have all sorts of myths associated with all professions and trades, but one thing is clear: we all have contributed (without exception) to bringing this country to its present condition. The problem is that the criticism of the Army along these lines is flawed; sometimes factually, sometimes logically. So it’s easily brushed off with these simplistic explanations. The reality is much more complex and their explanations are equally complicated.
In conclusion, it’s important to separate fact from fiction when it comes to military service and qualifications. It is important to dispel these myths and educate the public on the reality of military service and qualifications. By doing so, we can ensure that qualified individuals from diverse backgrounds have the opportunity to serve their country and pursue a fulfilling career in the military. The military offers a wide range of opportunities for individuals with diverse backgrounds and goals. So, if you’re considering military service, don’t let these common myths hold you back from exploring this option.