"Qui a le bâton, a le buffle". Le corporatisme économique de l'armée pakistanaise
"He who has the stick, has the buffalo". This Punjabi proverb applies well to Pakistan's armed forces, a majority of which, in fact, hail from this province. They have gradually formed an economic interest group with many industrial and commercial activities that have become an integral part of Pakistan’s everyday life. Oddly enough, this patent fact has been neglected by the academic research on Pakistan or, at best, has only been addressed in a descriptive manner. The present study attempts to explain the transformation of Pakistan's armed forces into a significant economic actor by reinterpreting Charles Tilly's thesis about the dependent militarization of Third World states. It emphasizes the crucial role played by local capital, especially land. It also stresses how endogenous historical factors (the colonial legacy) and political factors (the delicate civil-military balance of power) have helped the army to consolidate itself institutionally. Yet, since the 1980s, the expansion of military economic corporatism has provoked increased tensions between the army and its civilian partners, primarily the bureaucracy, which is the main loser in this unfair competition for state property. It also produces social resistance: unprecedented civil disobedience movements have appeared, and old grievances emanating from ethnic groups under-represented within the army have been reawakened. The phenomenon also creates friction within the armed forces themselves. Nevertheless, these tensions do not seriously undermine a corporatist rationale that is far too effective and functional to disappear. Paradoxically, the military's "privatisation" contributes to its internal cohesion. Indeed, military patrimonialism in Pakistan can usefully be analysed as one of the many processes that has helped the armed forces maintain a strong "esprit de corps" and which has given rise to what can be termed "military syndicalism".
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