Defense Budget: An Exigency of National Security

Keeping in view the security situation of South Asia and Pakistan’s internal peace and stability challenges, Pakistan needs to increase its military spending by 100 folds.

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Federal Minister of Finance and Revenue Miftah Ismael on Friday 10th June 2022 presented the budget of 121$ billion (9.5 trillion PKR) for fiscal year (FY) 23 that is going to start from July 2022-June 2023 at the Lower House of Parliament i.e., National Assembly. The government claimed to be moving forward toward sustainable growth and set a target of 5% for the upcoming FY. The so-called Awaam Dost budget is not actually being considered a Pro-people budget. A lot of debate has been initiated on the hike in the defense budget as it is increased by almost 6% as compared to last year and the government has allocated (7.19$ billion) 1.523 trillion rupees. This Op-ed will briefly shed light on the need for even more defense spending in Pakistan and will also try to debunk some of the myths about the defense budget of Pakistan.

Pakistan is in a long-standing and unresolved enmity with India which is almost 7 times bigger than Pakistan and has hegemonic designs. Pakistan and India had fought three wars since partition in 1947 and Pakistan lost its eastern wing in the 1971 war that is now Bangladesh. The only counter to Indian hegemonic ambitions in South Asia is Pakistan and that is why it has never missed any chance of maligning and destroying Pakistan economically, politically, and most importantly militarily.

Pakistan’s defense spending as compared to its enemy India is just as little as an ant in front of an elephant. India allocated 54.2$ billion on defense spending for FY 2022-23 and Pakistan stands at 7.19$ billion. Even after increasing spending on defense by 412$ million, Pakistan stands nowhere close to India which is its archrival and is always looking for a chance to get Pakistan down on its knees.

Here, debunking some of the myths is important for a clear understanding. Defense budget only accounts for 17.7% of the total budget and the largest portion (40%) of budget is allocated for debt servicing. Another myth that the whole budget goes to the army is clear-cut disinformation, as, it goes to the defense ministry from where it gets allocated among Army, Navy, Air force and inter-services according to the needs. Moreover, according to the Islamabad policy research institute, claims that Pakistan has the largest military spending in the world are also incorrect. Israel’s per capita military spending is 2400$/soldier which is the highest in the world whereas Pakistan has only 47$ per capita military spending which is one of the lowest in the world.

Another, misinformation that needs to be countered is that defense spending leads to the least development and unemployment, this is not true. The truth is more security leads to the trust of investors which attracts Foreign direct investment (FDI) in the country which creates development and increases employment opportunities.

Pakistan is in a constant security dilemma due to the asymmetry of power in the region of South Asia. Though Pakistan is a nuclear state just like India and nuclear deterrence has played a key role in the avoidance of conflict for the last three decades but in conventional forces, Pakistan lags far behind India as evident from the Kargil conflict in 1999. India is also getting heavy technology and military equipment from the United States of America and from Russia as well.

The US spends almost 35$ billion per year for the maintenance of its nuclear arsenal, India spends 2.3$ billion and Pakistan on its guarantee to be secure from any aggression of India spends only 1$ billion on maintenance of its nuclear arsenal. The asymmetry of power can be seen in the asymmetry of military spending. This is the lowest as compared to any other nuclear power country in the world. Israel which is also considered an enemy of Pakistan has not yet been officially declared as a nuclear power state and also spent 1$ billion on maintenance of its nuclear program equivalent to that of Pakistan.

Pakistan is not fighting on a single front. The military of Pakistan is the most battle-hardened military in the world claimed Chief of Army staff (COAS) of Pakistan Gen. Qamar Bajwa in 2016. This statement of COAS is 100% true because a quick look at our past 70 years proves it right. Pakistan’s military forces fought three wars with India and some minor conflicts emerge every now and then. It fought a proxy war of the USA in the name of Afghan Jihad in 1979 and it fought its own war on terror after 9/11. Several successful operations have also been hallmarks of Pakistan’s military history that including SWAT, North & South Waziristan, and Zarb-e-Azab operations.

The Pakistani military is also actively eliminating Indian Backed liberation proxies in Baluchistan. The role of Iran in Baluchistan is highly suspicious as well. The situation over the last 20 years in Afghanistan destroyed the peace and stability of the region. Even now, after the fall of Kabul to the Taliban, the security situation is still not stable as Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan has created safe havens in India, Iran, and Afghanistan. India funds these proxies and evidence of that has also been shared with the United Nations in the form of a dossier and the unveiling of the SPY network of Kulbhushan Yadav (An Indian serving navy officer) who is now in the custody of the Pakistan Armed forces is factual evidence of Indian involvement in destabilizing Pakistan.

While facing an enemy whose evil motives are evident from the book of their own former National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon who writes in his book “Choices” that during 1971 war PM Indira’s plan was to fight a long war with economically devasted Pakistan that it leaves no other chance for Pakistan except to give up its sovereign status. This foul motive of removing Pakistan from the world map has been repeatedly thrashed out of the mouths of Government officials of India.

Keeping in view the security situation of South Asia and Pakistan’s internal peace and stability challenges, Pakistan needs to increase its military spending by 100 folds. Even then, Pakistan won’t be able to match the defense spending of India, so to ensure the security of Pakistan and to counter the wicked objectives of India, it was the need of the hour to increase defense spending.

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