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Pakistan Armed Forces

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The Pakistan Armed Forces (Urdu: پاک مُسَلّح افواج‎, Musallah Afwaj-e-Pakistan) are the military forces of Pakistan. They are the sixth largest in the world in terms of active military personnel and the largest among Muslim countries. The armed forces comprise three main service branches – Army, Navy, and Air Force – together with a number of paramilitary forces and the Strategic Plans Division Force. Chain of command of the military is organized under the Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (JCSC) alongside chiefs of staff of the army, navy, and air force. All of the branches work together during operations and joint missions under the Joint Staff Headquarters (JS HQ).

Since the 1963 Sino-Pakistan Agreement, the military has had close military relations with China, working jointly to develop the JF-17, the K-8, and other weapons systems. As of 2013, China was the second-largest foreign supplier of military equipment to Pakistan. Both nations also cooperate on development of nuclear and space technology programs. Their armies have a schedule for organizing joint military exercises. The military also maintains close relations with the United States, which gave Pakistan major non-NATO ally status in 2004. Pakistan gets the bulk of its military equipment from local domestic suppliers, China, and the United States.

The armed forces were formed in 1947 when Pakistan became independent from the British Empire. Since then, the armed forces have played a decisive role in the modern history of Pakistan, fighting major wars with India in 1947, 1965 and 1971, and on several occasions seizing control of the civilian government to restore order in the country. The need for border management led to the creation of paramilitary forces to deal with civil unrest in the North-West and security of border areas in Punjab and Sindh by paramilitary troops. In 2016, the military had approximately 617,000 personnel on active duty, with 513,000 in the reserves, 402,000 in the paramilitary forces, and approximately 20,000 serving in the Strategic Plans Division Forces, giving a total of almost 1,500,000 soldiers. The armed forces have a large pool of volunteers so conscription has never been needed, though the Pakistani constitution and supplementary legislation allow for conscription in a state of war.

The Pakistan Armed Forces are the best-organized institution in Pakistan, and are highly respected in civil society. Since the founding of Pakistan, the military has played a key role in holding the state together, promoting a feeling of nationhood and providing a bastion of selfless service. In addition, the Pakistan Armed Forces are the largest contributors to United Nations peacekeeping efforts, with more than 10,000 personnel deployed overseas in 2007. Other foreign deployments have consisted of Pakistani military personnel serving as military advisers in African and Arab countries. The Pakistani military has maintained combat divisions and brigade-strength presences in some of the Arab countries during the Arab–Israeli Wars, aided the Coalition forces in the first Gulf War, and took part in the Somalian and Bosnian conflicts.

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