Correcting the Discourse on Defense Budget of Pakistan Army

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Pakistan is a country that faces serious security dilemma due to its strategic location and its importance in the international arena. Most importantly a war mongering neighbor in the shape of India has always remained a trouble for Pakistan. Indian military development has always been the potential source of triggering Pakistan to follow the same path of militarization. Defense procurements and the military developments have always been a need for the country rather than being a fascination.

Despite facing unprecedented challenges / threats both on the western and eastern fronts as well as hybrid warfare threats, Pakistan Army did not increase its defence budget to support the country’s economy.

Over the past fifty years, Pakistan’s Defence budget as a percentage of GDP has gone down, drastically, from 6.50 percent of GDP in the 1970s to 2.54 percent in 2021.

In Budget 2021-22, ‘Defence Services’ was allocated Rs1,370 billion out of total budgetary resources of Rs 8,487 Bn which is a mere 16 percent of the total budgetary resources.

Out of this 16 percent allocation, Pakistan Army gets Rs 594 billion or 44 percent. In effect, Pakistan Army gets a paltry 7 percent of the total budgetary resources. Pakistan Army in the year 2019, had also relinquished Rs 100 billion of its budgetary allocation to support economy of the country.

The recent report of SIPRI places Pakistan at 23rd in the list of world’s top 40 countries with the highest military expenditure, one position below as compared to 2020, which shows Pakistan Army’s commitment to assist government by spending less on the military expenditure.

According to SIPRI Military Expenditure Database and The Military Balance from the International Institute for Strategic Studies, the countries that spend more on defence in comparison to Pakistan (2.54 GDP) include Oman (12 percent of GDP) Lebanon (10.5 percent), Saudi Arabia (8 percent), Kuwait (7.1 percent), Algeria (6.7 percent), Iraq (5.8 percent), UAE (5.6 percent), Azerbaijan (4 percent), Morocco (5.3 percent), Israel (5.2 percent), Jordan (4.9 percent), Armenia (4.8 percent), Mali (4.5 percent), Qatar 4.4 percent, Russia 3.9 percent, US 3.4 percent and India (3.1 percent).

Pakistan’s defence budget on a per capita basis is one of the lowest in the world. Pakistan spends $40 on a per capita basis while Israel spends $2,200 on a per capita basis. Even after having one of the lowest defence budgets in the world, according to Global Firepower Index, Pakistan’s Armed forces are “ranked as the 9th most powerful military in the world.”

Although Pakistan has the 7th largest military in the world, its expenses are one of the lowest. US spends $392000 per soldier, Saudi Arabia spends $371000, India spends $42000, Iran spends $23000, while Pakistan spends $12500 per year per soldier.

According to SIPRI, India’s military spending of $76.6 billion ranked third highest in the world. This was raised by 0.9 per cent from 2020 and by 33 per cent from 2012. The Indian defense budget is 8 times that of Pakistan’s Defence budget.

In addition to restricting the defence budget to bare minimum, Pakistan Army also took an unprecedented step of freezing the defence budget allocation in the year 2019. With this meagre defence allocation, Pakistan Army has not only kept its old vintage equipment in a maintained condition but has also inducted essentially required new conventional weapon systems, enhanced Niche capabilities, Cyber warfare capabilities, carried out latest developments in missile and nuclear technology.

Despite having one of the lowest defence budgets in the world, Pakistan Army is the only Army in the world which has successfully defeated the menace of Terrorism and has not allowed any compromise on its professional standards. Still any baseless criticism on the armed forces such as grasping 80% of GDP is not only an insult to the institution but also to the highly motivated soldiers who are always ready to sacrifice their lives for Pakistan.

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