The years preceding the Arab Spring were rather calm ones for the armed forces of the Arab world: two major conventional campaigns (Iraq 2003 and Lebanon 2006) barely involved the military, and terrorism was mostly under control in Algeria and Yemen. Elsewhere all was quiet on the Arab front. The Arab Spring changed this in more ways than one: to start with, it turned the militaries of Tunisia, Syria and Egypt into political actors, and split those of Yemen and Libya in two.
Pakistan’s armed forces are among the most modern, largest and well funded in the world. Within them, the army is the largest unit and the most powerful institution in the country. In the late 1950s, it became a key political force and increasingly infiltrated the economy. Its penetration into crucial political decision-making became entrenched in the ’80s, while the greatest penetration into the economy and society took place in following decade, and has not been reversed to date. In the paper we will see how the army turned into a key player on the political scene and came to control a wide economic sector, what factors may have contributed to its “over-development” and what are its implications.