Lala ki Dukaan, Lala ka Empire: Pakistan army
Here is my trip report for Dubai, where I stayed for just three days between June 11 and 14. The trip was more of a quest for exploring this hugely popular destination at a time when I am going through some health issues. We landed in Dubai at about 7 pm on June 11 and went through immigration quickly. We were received at the airport by a friend. I had heard a popular saying when I was doing my course in mass communication at IIMC, New Delhi, during my student years. “News is where your nose is.” I was reminded of these words when rather than enjoying the stunningly beautiful and highly developed city, being a scribe I got engrossed in a conversation with a friend. He turned out to be a Pakistani settled in Dubai since decades. Very keen to learn from an insider about Pakistan, I engaged the man in political conversation. Despite health hazards, mood swings and pain at times, I wanted to know the real picture. I was later amused to realize that if I pursued anything for three days in Dubai, it was about Pakistan. In search of truth, I interacted with many Pakistanis who are settled in Dubai. I reproduce here what the Pakistanis told me. Here we go.
Pakistan is witnessing a dramatic turn of events. For the first time, there is widespread anger simmering among civilians in Pakistan against its army. Though the undercurrent was there since last many years, the ouster of Imran Khan as Prime Minister has triggered the anger. This is not because there was any love lost for Imran Khan. This is because Pakistanis have now had enough of the army’s hegemonic interferences in civilian matters and governance.
I interviewed many Pakistanis based in Dubai who were very vocal about the army’s meddling into the affairs of the civil populace. Surprisingly I found them all on the same page regarding their country’s army. One guy who hails from Multan in Pakistan had just returned from home. He is working in a software multinational in Dubai. Zaheer (name changed) told me that Pakistan army has destroyed that country, and that the people in general harbour anger against the armed forces.
Corporate House, Jihad Factory
Pak army officers should wear suit and tie, not uniform. They are hardcore businessmen, not soldiers
(Stated by Fayaz from Lahore)
Pakistan army is not a military force. It is a multi-brand business house which has its own enterprises on one hand, while on the other hand it runs jihadi centers for holding the command. The educated class was already disenchanted with the Pakistani army. “With the ouster of Imran Khan, the general public too is annoyed with the army. It is assume that only Imran Khan’s supporters are against the army. Muslim League supporters have been annoyed with the army since long. In fact the whole Pakistani nation seems to be up in arms against the army for two reasons. Pakistan army is Lala ki Dukaan, aur Lala ka Empire. The army has increasingly focused its efforts on acquiring land for property development and also setting up various businesses. I think the outsiders don’t know that the sole aim of Pakistan army is to have monopoly over businesses in our country. The so-called charitable foundations are actually business houses where only retired and serving officers are entitled to a share the profits.
There are many such business houses. How many will you count? The Fauji Foundation, established in 1955, is run by retired army generals. The Shaheen Foundation established in 1977 is run by retired Pakistan Air Force officers. The Bahria Foundation was established in 1982. Pakistan Army has also created private-sector charitable trusts, which are actually corporate houses. The Army Welfare Trust (AWT) is exclusively run by senior Pakistan Army officers, both retired and serving. As if this was not sufficient, the army established the National Logistics Cell (NLC) in 1978 on the pretext of easing congestion at the Karachi port. NLC gradually took away the shipping business from Pakistan Railways. NLC now has its own freight train. NLC vehicles are exempted from all kinds of taxes including road tax.
Pakistan army is now into the business of textiles, fertilizers, steel, shoes, medicines, lubricants, cement, power plants… The list is exhaustive.
Pakistan Army Has Monopolized All Business Sectors
(Stated by Junaid from Karachi)
Pakistan army is the elitist among all militaries of the world. What could be more annoying than the fact that the Pakistan army has the inherent right to take over my property without seeking my consent or paying for it. This practice has no parallel anywhere in the world. Can you believe this? That any time of the day, an army officer can call you out from your house and say take control of your property. You are under obligation to leave the house at a very short notice. The army officers have unchallenged authority. They can develop the property and then sell it at market rate, thereby making a very huge profit.
The army has monopolized the education sector also. It is incredible that the army has established its own education boards independent of the civilian government. They provide quality education to their children in the established schools and universities, and have their own evaluation system. This is why the merit is largely restricted to children of army officers. We are living in a completely different world where the army manages everything and lives like kings. The rest of the awam carries no meaning. Why will the Pakistan army give up the conflict in Kashmir? Kashmir is the ganja that the Pakistan army serves to the people all the time. The people remain happy that we are beating India in Kashmir, and the army officers can do everything that keep them rich and fat.
How About The Jihadi Threat To The Army?
(Stated by Anwar from Multan)
One can never come across the footprints of Jihadi organizations. All this shor about them is a farce. Whatever it is, it is within the four walls of military installations. You will never come across a Jihadi in civilian areas. All is managed within the military barracks. My city is always in news because of terrorist attacks. The truth is that we have never seen a terrorist roaming in the streets. All is managed from within the barracks.
Pakistan Is Not A Nation. It Is A Military Garrison
(Stated by Noman From Lahore)
Pakistan is not a nation. It is a military garrison. Khans, Shariefs or Bhuttos – you name any of our so-called political leaders. They are all bootlickers. They don’t have any authority or self-respect. Pakistani people are now realizing the cost of a militarized nation. They want to revolt but they don’t have resources. Everything is under the control of the army. The civilian population is starving. The economy has shattered. GDP is rock bottom. Prices are touching the skies. But the army is rich.
We Are Secondary Among Secondary Citizens
(Stated by Mehran from Multan)
We are secondary of secondary citizens. We are the slaves of slaves. Pakistan army is run and controlled by the US, and we are slaves of the Pakistan army. Pakistan will be free the day its civilian government functions without the interference of US and Pak Army.
Mehran was sarcastic while singing a song originally sung by legendary Mehdi Hasan,
“Ye wattan tumhara hai, tum ho pasban iske
Ye chaman tumhara hai tum ho nagmakhawn iske
Is chaman ke phooloon par rang o aab tum se hai
is zameen ka har zarra aaftab tum se hai
ye faza tumhari hai, behr o bar tumhare hein
kehkashan ke ye jaale rehguzar tumhare hein.
We are producing a list of companies and goods owned and produced by the Pakistan army. This is absolutely unprecedented in the modern history of civilization that the army of a country owns such huge assets.
The projects/units being run by the Army Welfare Trust (AWT) are as follows:
1. Two stud farms in Pakpattan and Okara
2. Army Welfare Sugar Mills, Badin
3. Askari Project (Shoe and Woollen), Lahore
4. Army Welfare Mess and Blue Lagoon Restaurant, Rawalpindi
5. Real estate comprising three small housing schemes in Lahore, Badaber and Sangjani
6. Askari General Insurance Co Ltd, Rawalpindi
7. Askari Aviation Services, Rawalpindi
8. MAL Pakistan Ltd Karachi
9. Askari Guards (Pvt) Ltd, head office (HO) in Rawalpindi
10. Askari Fuels (CNG) with HO in Rawalpindi
11. Askari Seeds, Okara
12. Askari Enterprises, Rawalpindi
13. Fauji Security Services (acquired from Fauji Foundation), HO in Rawalpindi
14. Askari Apparel, Lahore
15. Askari Lagoon, Faisalabad.
PAK ARMY INC
Projects Under Fauji Foundation
1. Fauji Cereals
2. Foundation Gas
3. Fauji Fertiliser Company Ltd
4. Fauji Cement Co Ltd
5. Fauji Oil Terminal and Distillery Co Ltd
6. Fauji Kabirwala Power Company Ltd
7. Foundation Power Co (Dharki) Ltd
8. Askari Cement Ltd
9. Askari Bank Ltd
10. Foundation Wind Energy (I and II) Ltd
11. Noon Pakistan Ltd Lahore
12. Fauji Meat Ltd
13. Fauji Fertiliser Bin Qasim Ltd
14. Fauji Akbar Partia Marine Terminal Ltd, HO in Karachi.
A company under the name of Pakistan Maroc Phosphore SA was set up in Morocco by the Fauji Foundation in 2008.
PAKISTAN AIR FORCE INC
Projects, Units, and Housing Colonies under the administrative control of Shaheen Foundation, a Trust of the Pakistan Air Force
1. Shaheen Airport Services
2. Shaheen Aerotraders
3. Shaheen Knitwear
4. Shaheen Complex, Karachi
5. Shaheen Complex, Lahore
6. Shaheen Medical Services
7. Hawk Advertising
8. Fazaia Welfare Education School System
9. SAPS Aviation College
10. Air Eagle Aviation Academy
11. Shaheen Welfare Housing Scheme, Peshawar.