With more than 600,000 troops, Pakistan has the seventh largest standing army in the world and has a long-range nuclear capability.
Due to its sheer size the military has sought to, and often succeeded in, controlling the country's politics.
In the last 30 years, it has also expanded into the civilian domain, controlling various top positions in the government and public corporations.
It has also emerged as one of the largest industrial, banking and landholding entities in the country.
The justification for such a large army, which uses up more than a quarter of the national budget, came mostly from the threat emanating from India, with which Pakistan has fought three wars.
But lately, there has been public pressure to cut spending on the army and divert more resources towards health and education. The army's political role has also come under increased criticism.