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Pakistan: Army and Paramilitary Forces
Country Study > Chapter 5 > National Security > The Armed Services > Army and Paramilitary Forces


The key holder of power in the armed forces and, along with the president and the prime minister, one of the triumvirate that runs the country is the chief of the army staff (COAS) -- formerly called the commander in chief. In 1994 this post was held by General Abdul Waheed. The COAS operates from army headquarters in Rawalpindi, near Islamabad. From this position, both Ayub Khan and Zia seized power. Other senior staff positions, at the lieutenant general level, include a chief of general staff, who supervises army intelligence and operations; the master general of ordnance; the quartermaster general; the adjutant general; the inspector general for evaluation and training; and the military secretary. The headquarters function also includes the chief of the Corps of Engineers, the judge advocate general, and the comptroller of civilian personnel, all of whom report to the vice chief of the army staff.

The army is organized into nine corps: First Corps at Mangla; Second Corps at Multan; Fourth Corps at Lahore; Fifth Corps at Karachi; Tenth Corps at Rawalpindi; Eleventh Corps at Peshawar; Twelfth Corps at Quetta; Thirtieth Corps at Gujranwala; and Thirty-first Corps at Bahawalpur. There is also the Northern Area Command, headquartered at Gilgit, directly responsible to army general headquarters.

Active army strength in 1994 was 520,000. In addition, there were 300,000 reserve personnel. Reserve status lasted for eight years after leaving active service or until age forty-five for enlisted men and age fifty for officers.

In 1994 major weapons included nearly 2,000 tanks (mainly Chinese but also 120 M-47s and 280 M-48A5s of United States origin), 820 M-113 armored personnel carriers, 1,566 towed artillery pieces, 240 self-propelled artillery pieces, 45 multiple rocket launchers, 725 mortars, 800 Cobra, TOW, and Green Arrow antitank guided weapons, eighteen Hatf surface-to-surface missiles, 2,000 air defense guns, and 350 Stinger and Redeye missiles and 500 Anza surface-to-air missiles. The army's combat aircraft inventory consisted of twenty AH-1F airplanes equipped with TOW missiles.

Paramilitary organizations, which were mainly of symbolic importance, included the 185,000-member National Guard, comprising the Janbaz Force -- locally recruited militia mainly charged with air defense -- and two programs similar to the United States Reserve Officers Training Corps, the National Cadet Corps and the Women Guard. The Women Guard, unlike the National Cadet Corps, included individuals trained in nursing, welfare, and clerical work. There were also some women in the Janbaz Force, and a very small number of women were recruited into the regular service in limited numbers to perform medical and educational work.

Paramilitary internal security forces were organized on the provincial level but were subordinate to the Ministry of Interior and were commanded by seconded army generals. These forces were in effect an extension of the army for internal security duties. The Pakistan Rangers, headquartered in Lahore, dealt with unrest in Punjab, while the Mehran Force performed similar functions in Sindh. In 1994 their strengths were 25,000 and 24,000, respectively, divided into "wings" of approximately 800 men each. The Frontier Corps, with a strength of 65,000, was based in Peshawar and Quetta with responsibility for the North-West Frontier Province and Balochistan. The corps was responsible to both the Ministry of States and Frontier Regions and to army headquarters. The corps was divided into twenty-seven local units -- fourteen in the North-West Frontier Province and thirteen in Balochistan -- and included the Chitral Scouts, the Khyber Rifles, the Kurram Militia, the Tochi Scouts, the South Waziristan Scouts, the Zhob Militia, and the Gilgit Scouts. There was also a Coast Guard, subordinate to the Ministry of Interior and staffed by army personnel.

In times of natural disaster, such as the great floods of 1992, army engineers, medical and logistics personnel, and the armed forces played a major role in bringing relief and supplies. The army also engaged in extensive economic activities. Most of these enterprises, such as stud and dairy farms, were for the army's own use, but others performed functions beneficial to the local civilian economy. Army factories produced such goods as sugar, fertilizer, and brass castings and sold them to civilian consumers.

Several army organizations performed functions that were important to the civilian sector across the country. For example, the National Logistics Cell was responsible for trucking food and other goods across the country; the Frontier Works Organization built the Karakoram Highway to China; and the Special Communication Organization maintained communications networks in remote parts of Pakistan.

Data as of April 1994

Last Updated: April 1994

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Pakistan was first published in 1994. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

Pakistan Main Page Country Studies Main Page

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