Pakistan’s defense budget

In recent years, there has been increasing criticism of Pakistan’s defense budget. Some people say that Pakistan is a poor country, thereby, it should spend more of its budget on education and health rather spending on military might. Moreover, Pakistan’s economy is in dire straits which is run by IMF bailout packages. It requires less military spending. However, these arguments have little weight when we look at the geo-strategic position of Pakistan. Since 1947, Pakistan has always been threatened by its 5 times large neighbor, India. Owing to Indian threats, Pakistan has opted to organize a strong military to safeguard its territory, integrity, and sovereignty.

The primary fact is that Pakistan is not looking forward to territorial domination over regional states. Instead, Pakistan has made a military that might preserve its territorial integrity in the presence of regional hegemon states such as India. Pakistan has always owned a policy of self-defense. On the other hand, antagonist policies by India towards Pakistan have no other choice but to make a strong military might.

Secondly, Pakistan faces a serious threat from India. Since its inception, Pakistan has faced perpetual threats from the east. Kashmir has been the major cause of the dispute between the two neighboring countries. There have been three major wars between Pakistan and India over Kashmir. India is also responsible for the dismemberment of Pakistan in 1971, and Bangladesh was created. The Kargil war in 1999 and the misadventure by India in February 2019, compel Pakistan to have a strong army to the deterrence of Indian threats. A strong military helps Pakistan to preserve its hard-earned independence and sovereignty. Without a strong military, Pakistan would have never been a free state.

Thirdly, Pakistan spends less on defense in comparison to other regional states. Arch rival of Pakistan, India spent $72.6 billion on its defense. Likewise, Saudi Arabia spends $55 billion on its defense. China spends $293 and Iran $24 billion. In comparison to all these countries, Pakistan spends only $11 billion on its defense. These facts and figures explain that Pakistan spends very less on its military.

Fourthly, Pakistan has never compromised other sectors such as health and education for defense. For the current fiscal year, federal and provincial governments have allocated Rs 1250 Billion for education which is 13 percent of the GDP. Likewise, Pakistan spends 3.4 percent of its GDP on health. Pakistan may not have the best figures in social indicators as the tax-to-GDP ratio is very low. However, it has been struggling hard to provide basic facilities to the people of the country.

Moreover, Pakistan is facing the threat of terrorism since the war on terror started by the US in 2001. To deal with the menace of terrorism, the Pakistan army had to launch large military operations in tribal areas and Swat. Despite meager resources at its disposal, the Pakistan army defeated terrorism. To cope with the threats of terrorism, Pakistan requires a strong army to ensure the safety of its citizens and sovereignty. The contemporary new wave of terrorism requires a strong army to deal with it with an iron hand.

Furthermore, the Pakistan army has been always at the front in a time of natural disasters. During the 2005  earthquake, major relief operations were conducted by Pakistan Army. Likewise, the Pakistan army played an important role in evacuating people during the 2010 and 2022 floods. There is no denying the fact that the army has played a major role in the time of national emergencies. Indeed, Pakistan Army has always safeguarded the nation in times of both man-made and natural crises.

Pakistan is currently spending 1523 billion on defense which makes up 17.5 percent of the total expenditure. It is 2.2 percent of the GDP. Contrary to perception, Pakistan’s defense budget has decreased from 2.8 percent to 2.2 percent. Pakistan at the movement is experiencing the worst inflation; however, the army has managed a cut of Rs 100 billion in its budget. This is another great example of the sacrifice of the army for its people.

To conclude, the Pakistan army plays a vital role in the welfare affairs of the state along with conventional warfare. Reducing its budget further will compromise both its offensive and defensive capabilities. Indeed, the Pakistan army needs more resources to cope with unconventional and fifth-generation warfare. To safeguard the nation, Pakistan Army requires more budget rather than reducing the current budget.

Jahangir Khan Mehsud
Jahangir Khan Mehsud
Jahangir Khan Mehsud, a graduate of Economics and Political Science from Forman Christian College University, Lahore