By Tahir Nazir
Defense expenditure is often dubbed as undesirable spending and burden on an economy, because expenditure on defense diverts the resource allocation of that economy from development projects.”
Since the independence of Pakistan, the defense budget has always been a matter of debate for domestic audience and remained a cause of concern for the international community, without even realizing the prevailing strategic environment in the regional and the global levels.
There is no iota of doubt that Pakistan’s defense spending is the lowest in the region, as compared with the Indian defense spending. And, it is only meant for the defense of the country.
While presenting the Budget for the year 2014-15, Ishaq Dar, Finance Minister said that incumbent government allocated 700.2 billion rupees for the defense budget that is 73 billion rupees i.e. 11.1 percent higher than the last defense budget. However, according to defense sources they have pledged RS 1.73 billion rupees increases in defense spending, which has been turned down by the government. According to a defense ministry official, 48 % (331.4bn rupees) of the defense budget will be bagged by the Army, 20% (149.7bn rupees) goes to Air force and Navy gets 10% (71.4bn Rupees). However the above mentioned defense budgets do not include 163.4 billion rupees allocated for pensions of the military personnel, 165 billion under the contingent liability and 85 billion under the Coalition Support Fund. If we add these heads to the pledged defense budget, then this will be 1113 billion Rupees.
On the backdrop of Indian defense spending, Pakistan’s defense budget looks out of proportion and inadequate. Although, Pakistan is trying her best to maintain a proportionate ratio with the Indian defense despite the fact that Pakistan has suffered a $102 billion loss to its economy due to Global War again Terrorism (GWOT).
The total declared Indian defense budget for the year 2013-14, was $37.4 billion. From that pledged amount the Indian Army got $18.3 billion that accounted for 49%, Air Force followed the next with a budget of $10.6 billion (28.2 per cent) and Indian Navy had budget of $6.7 billion (17.8%).
Furthermore, the Indian acquisition of the Ballistic Missile Defense system (BMD), rapid transformation in conventional weaponry and substantial increase in India’s conventional defense spending against Pakistan’s little over $7 billion, have pushed the South Asian region towards perpetual instability.
One can clearly notice that Pakistan’s entire defense budget is around $7 billion and on the contrary, the Indian Navy, the smallest service among the armed forces of India got $6.7 billion in the year 2013-14. Pakistan defense planners cannot remain oblivious, in the wake of Indian massive armed forces modernization plans and the changing strategic environment in the region.
India’s hefty defense spending, on its conventional as well as nuclear forces, compelled Pakistan to maintain minimum conventional and nuclear deterrent vis-a-vis India.
The arms race led by India and followed by Pakistan, is detrimental to the people of both countries. Despite, the fact, billion of peoples in South Asia, are still living under the shadow of insecurity and abject poverty.
It is high time for both the country’s leadership to realize and work towards the common objectives. And those objectives should be to work towards economic prosperity, infrastructural development, getting rid of abject poverty, and restoring peace and stability into the South Asian region.
Tahir Nazir is a Research Fellow at South Asian Strategic Stability Institute. He tweets @ https://twitter.com/tahirdss. The views expressed by author is of his own and do not represent the official views of the respective Institution.