A Pakistani General is worth Rs 500 million!
An online interview with Dr. Ayesha Siddiqa-Agha has revealed that Pakistani Generals are worth Rs 500 million each. In this interview, conducted by despardes.com’s Editor-in-Chief Irshad Salim, Dr. Siddiqa tells us how the Pakistani military establishment has systematically looted the country. That they are no more than thieves. No wonder Ayesha Siddiqa-Agha’s book Military Inc.: Inside Pakistan’s Military Economy has been banned in Pakistan.
Its not just the book, Musharaff has come down on the media with a heavy hand, which makes one suspect that the media was never really free in the first place. People protested and now Musharaff has decided not to go ahead with the ordinance that would have muzzled the freedom of the electronic media. But I can’t help feeling that this climbdown is an eyewash and that he has come to some sort of agreement with the media…he will give some concessions in return for some sort of self censorship.
After reading Ayesha Siddiqa-Agha’s interview one realises how much the General has to hide. And I must thank one of my readers for directing me to this interview. He lives in the US.
In her book Ayesha Siddiqa-Agha has written about Pakistani military business operations. From her experience in working as a civil servant in Pakistan she found out that the Pakistani army has amassed great wealth and that the military has become “predatory engaging in political and economic predation.”
One way its been done is by amassing land. 10 percent of all land, according to the 1912 Colonization of Land Act, is allotted to the military. On paper this land is meant for operational purposes only, but apparently the land has been misappropriated and used as personal land.
Dr. Siddiqa has accused the Pakistan army of running a complete ‘side economy’ which includes not just real estate, but also ‘ businesses done by subsidiaries, organizations and individuals.” According to her, this economy could be around 4% of GDP and their share in private sector assets is about 7-10 percent. In crores this is worth about Rs 200 billion and this is not counting the real estate. This is the largest ownership by any single group.
But why should the Army do this? To keep it financially independent! Being dependent on civilian sources for finances is risky if the Army wants to remain in power. Its a vicious circle. They needed the financial autonomy to stick to power and then the financial motive became a strong reason to stay in power. Dr. Siddiqa says that a full general is worth Rs 500 million (Rs. 50 crore) plus (say £5 million or US$9.8 million).
That was just the gist of her interview. For more details you can read here.
The lady’s background:
Her Brief Bio:
She did her doctorate from King’s College, London in 1996 and has worked on issues varying from military expenditure, defence decision-making, nuclear deterrence, arms procurement, arms production to civil-military relations in South Asia. She is also a Ford Fellow and more recently Pakistan Scholar at t he Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars.
She began her professional career with the Pakistan navy as the Director of Naval Research, making her the first civilian and woman to work at that position in Pakistan’s defence establishment. She writes for various international journals such as: Journal of Asian Affairs, Journal of the European Institute of Asian Studies, Jane’s Defence Weekly and the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists. Her major publication to date is the book Pakistan’s Arms Procurement and Military Buildup, 1979-99: In Search of a Policy (Palgrave Press, 2001).
The commentator who sent me this interview adds:
1· Start a movement to oust the ARMY from political power.
2· Create a method to elect an honest leadership both in PPP, Muslim League, MQM, and other parties.
3· Have proper elections.
4· Control the asset distribution by the ARMY Mafia. A proper regulated system should be devised.
5· Control the Assets of the Fauji Foundation and open the books to proper audit.
6· Perks such as land, plot gifts should be controlled or perhaps banned.
7· Make laws of severe punishment for the Generals to stop them from taking political power and that their prime duty should be Defense ALONE.
8· Start investigations into the lootings by the Army Generals especially the Core Commanders (including the millionaire Core Commander Lahore who has benefited most recently).