Pakistan’s Generals Have Lost Its People

The country’s military has engineered election results and controlled the economy for over 70 years. Its civilians have yet to benefit.

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Pakistani President Arif Alvi reviews a military parade to mark Pakistan National Day in Islamabad, Pakistan, Wednesday, March 23, 2022 (Anjum Naveed / AP)

Hassaan Bin Sabir


February 8, 2024


10 min

The Pakistan Military Academy, once a training and mountaineering school for the British Indian Army, lies on the outskirts of the northern city of Abbottabad, where the U.S. gunned down Osama bin Laden. Though much has changed since the days of British rule, the military’s perception of itself as distinct, even superior, from the civilian population has lingered. 

This sense of exceptionalism was evident during a 2023 Independence Day ceremony at the academy. The head of the army, General Asim Munir, castigated those Pakistanis who make “hue and cry [over] some difficulty.” The general drew on the Quran to drive his point: “Allah says: do the people think they will…not be tested?” 

The difficulty in question was likely the economic and political turmoil that has engulfed Pakistan in recent years. Unsurprisingly, Pakistani social media did not receive Munir’s call to toughen up well. For while Allah may have tested Pakistan, human choices, too, have made things worse. And, more often than not, the humans making those choices have donned khaki uniforms.

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