A nation is a group of people bound together by language, culture, common heritage and usually recognised as a political entity. Nation building means measures taken to streamline a nation institutionally and economically. Since creation, Pakistan Army has fought three wars followed by the Kargil war, war at Siachen and also against terrorism. Over the last 73 years, Pakistan Army has remained the most well managed, disciplined and responsive institution of the country, which besides defence of the country, also carries a rich history of making sacrifices and contribution towards nation building by assisting the government in various fields.

Pakistan army has been repeatedly called upon for duties which were well beyond the scope of its role. The strengths of Pakistan Army include a large reservoir of disciplined manpower, organisational ability and strength, technical expertise and skill, accountability, sincerity of purpose, and experience in aid of civil administration. Most of the armies in the world are directly contributing towards nation building like the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China, the United States army, Israeli defence forces, South American armies and the Turkish army. There has been a production corps in the Chinese army since 1954; in agriculture, industry and mines, laying of railway tracks, construction of highways and civic facilities. Pakistan army has made positive contribution and impact in remote areas of the country like Gilgit-Baltistan, erstwhile FATA, Chitral and Balochistan, through the construction of roads, education facilities, water supply schemes, medical facilities through CMHs and medical camps. Frontier Works Organisation, raised in 1966 for the construction of Karakoram Highway, the all-weather road, was completed in 13 years from Havelian to Khunjerab.

The organisation has also provided valuable assistance in natural calamities and the construction of roads and bridges. The establishment of communication in Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan was beyond the capability of civil organisation. Without the assistance of the Special Communication Organisation (SCO), all of Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan would have been totally cut off from the rest of the country. The SCO provides telephone, telegraph and satellite communication to Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan. SCO is strategically defence oriented and is also playing a pivotal role in the country’s economy. The National Logistic Cell (NLC) was established in 1978 for the speedy movement of imported wheat from Karachi. NLC was also useful during emergencies and war for transportation of vehicles, machinery and tanks. The bulk of its manpower comes from the Pakistan army and it is under the ministry of planning and development and works under the supervision of the planning commission of Pakistan. The NLC is also playing an important role in the construction of roads, bridges and grain godowns across the country. In the health sector, Pakistan army is also playing a life-saving role in the remote areas of Gilgit-Baltistan, Azad Kashmir and Balochistan through CMHs and establishment of free medical camps.

Pakistan Ordnance Factories (POF), a large industrial complex of factories, one of the largest manufacturers of engineering tools/weapons/ammunition, is contributing to the national economy as the largest exporter of arms and ammunition in the country. Heavy Industries Taxila (HIT), in collaboration with China, is contributing towards the manufacture of defence-related goods. In HIT, both army and civilians are employed where APCs, Tanks and artillery guns are manufactured. The Pakistan army was employed to revive the WAPDA in 1998 as serving officers inducted to manage the offices of the electricity board and vigilance wings. The basic aim of employment was to help recover the organization from losses as a huge amount was extracted from defaulters.

Pakistan army is regularly called in for desilting/cleanliness of barrages, canals and connected arteries of waterways across the country. The Pakistan army, through planned afforestation, brought vast acreage of wasteland in cultivation besides the plantation of saplings. The Army undertook a large-scale afforestation campaign across Pakistan in the past along the border belt and other selected areas. The Pakistan army is also playing an important role in the agriculture and animal husbandry sectors. The army has an animal dairy, and agriculture farms and also breeds good quality milk-producing animals.

Pakistan army also plays the leading role in promoting sports. Besides providing sports facilities, sportsmen, army also coaches promising young talent. The Army Welfare Trust generates funds for the welfare and rehabilitation of the orphans and widows of shuhada (martys), disabled, retired persons of the army and also provides employment opportunities. Fauji Foundation is a self-supporting welfare organisation; the beneficiaries are ex-service men, their families and dependents of the shuhada (martyrs). It plays an important role in nation building through its industrial and commercial projects and in generating revenue for the country. In the field of education, various technical institutions run by the army are being utilised for importing education/training to civilians in civil engineering, telecommunication, aeronautical engineering etc to raise the literacy level. The Army also runs public schools and colleges and federal government educational institutions in far-flung areas which has brought about a social revolution.

According to Stephen Cohen’s book, there are armies that guard their nation’s borders; and there are those that are occupied with protecting their own position in society and there are those that defend a cause or idea, “the Pakistan army does all three”. The primary role of Pakistan army is to defend the country against all internal and external threats, yet it shares the economic burden of the country by undertaking nation-building projects because of its displayed performance, commitment, loyalty and efficiency. Pakistan is a symbol of national integration, unity and the strongest bastion of defence.