This is not a history of Islamism or the role of the ISI and suchlike…this is just Hamid Hussain sahib’s personal observations about religion and religiosity in the Pakistani army, mostly focused on the officers. Since Hamid Hussain is very familiar with a lot of the senior officers, this personal opinion remains of interest..
btw, on a separate note, an old archive article about the staged encounter killing of Riaz Basra, original star of the anti-shia LEJ, and another one about a possible ISI role in his exploits..mostly for people who imagine all this started with the latest American intervention in Afghanistan and (god forbid) drone attacks.
Religion & Pakistan Army
Religious themes and symbols are used by all armies for motivation and in this aspect Pakistan army is no different. Pakistan army inherited its traditions from British Indian army. Colonial army evolved through a unique process where soldiers were encouraged to strictly observe their religious tenets and given full freedom of religious practice. In many cases, army went out of its way to accommodate religious preferences and even prejudices of its soldiers even at the cost of administrative efficiency. Soldiers returned these favors by fighting without any question under colonial flag even against their co-religionists. The prevailing dictum was that ‘we pack our religion in our knapsacks when our colors are unfurled’. Colonial power was judicious enough not to test soldier’s loyalty to the extreme in religious matters. Independent Indian and Pakistani armies incorporated Hindu and Muslim symbols and slogans respectively. Even in twenty first century, both countries name their missiles after their respective military leaders and heroes who fought against each other over five centuries ago.