ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Friday boosted its defence budget by 6.45 percent to Rs545.386 billion though it recorded around a 4 percent decrease of military spending in real terms for the next fiscal 2012-2013.
Compared to outgoing fiscal year’s revised defence budget of Rs510.179 billion, the Gilani Administration presented its last defence budget with only 6.45 percent increase by fixing defence estimates at Rs545.386 billion.
The defence allocations for 2012-2013 reflects low priority to the defence sector despite Pakistan’s playing a key role in war on terror with its around 140,000 troops deployed on western borders to meet the mounting challenge.
With Pakistan continuing suffering in terms of manpower and material the increase, which does not match the 10.6 percent inflation, would better be called as mere “eyewash” with the government seemingly not interested in giving more to the armed forces for beefing up the national security and defence.
The total operating expenses in the defence sector would be Rs143.544 billion as a larger chunk of Rs229.577 billion would go to employees-related expenses out of total defence allocations of Rs545.386 billion for the coming fiscal starting from July 1, 2012.
Given the present allocations for the forces, it can be safely said that Pakistan would not be in a position to go for any shopping of military hardware or to work out any modernisation programme for some years to come.
This grim situation for the defence sector should be seen in the backdrop of India’s boost to military spending by 17 percent to $40 billion though Pakistan has only less than $6 billion for defence sector with depreciation of rupee against dollar by each day passing.
India has already engaged itself in a massive programme to upgrade the country’s ageing military hardware.The defence allocations for next year fiscal demonstrated the fact that Pakistan has gone to tighten its belt to the extent that even the forces have not got the bigger slice this year.
Originally, Pakistan’s defence budget was Rs495.215 billion. But by the close of the outgoing fiscal, it was revised to Rs510.179 billion.Defence experts say that the defence allocations for 2012-2013 would not be enough with Pakistan to face new challenges.
Pakistan, said one expert, needs to launch modernization of its forces programme similar to one India has already initiated, though with Pak-US mistrust taking a deep seat, Pakistan should look for other alternate sources for purchase of hardware for military, navy and air force.
One senior defence analyst said that Pakistani soldiers need to be equipped with more sophisticated weaponry for which the forces must be given more rather than putting them under financial constraints.