Introduction The Pakistani military, particularly the army, has been the single most important political force in Pakistan since the formation of the state in 1947. Through its nexus with bureaucratic, landed feudal and business elites, the military has dominated Pakistani politics either by directly seizing power or by strongly interfering in the political process. In retirement, army officers have been provided with key positions in government, the universities, and other state institutions. The armed forces also control a large number of lucrative economic enterprises. Many in Pakistan and in the West have regarded the military as a disciplined, professional force that has been forced to rule Pakistan because of the corruption and ineptitude of politicians. Western governments, especially the United States, have regarded the military as close allies initially in the fight against communism and more recently, in the global war on religious terrorism. For many analysts, the armed forces, with their discipline and organization, make much better rulers than politicians. The military has also played a crucial role in holding Pakistan together in the face of ethnic separatist movements. Over time, however, allegations of the abuse of power and business-related corruption have tarnished the reputation of the military, particularly within Pakistan itself, but increasingly in the outside world. The military has been criticized at home and abroad for its arrogant abuse of power and use of excessive force. In particular, the main intelligence service, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), has consistently meddled in politics. The tragedy for Pakistan, and indeed for the armed forces itself, is that over time the military has become the main instrument of state terrorism in Pakistan. The dominant role of the military in the political and economic life of Pakistan has, in a large part, subverted the development of democracy, encouraged religious terrorism, and contributed to the current political, economic, and social crises facing Pakistan. To understand how this happened, it is necessary to analyse the historical factors that have both forced and encouraged the armed forces to intervene in the political process and, at times, to resort to state terrorism at home and state-sponsored terrorism abroad.