Pakistan’s audacious defence budget needs to stay on paper. It’s good for everyone

By The Print

Decoding Pakistan’s actions can be a difficult game. There are so many intertwined threads and hidden agendas that analysing them can be exhausting. But the task is necessary, especially when this volatile country hikes its defence allocation by a reported 6.28 per cent.

That’s a lot for anyone, but especially Pakistan, which has trouble paying its bills. Added to that is speculation that the defence rise is tied to the concessions that Pakistan expects from the US in its policy on Afghanistan. There’s no end to the audacity of Rawalpindi, but that bluff can be called, for many reasons. The cards are simply not falling right.

Defence budget and Pakistan’s economy
First, the budget itself. The unseemly brawl during the budget session was bad enough, with mostly treasury benches resorting to violence and name-calling. But the devil lies in the details of those budget papers being thrown around. Actual expenditure for the defence services, which in India covers several pages of detailed information, is so short as to be a parody.

The total for ‘Defence Services’ is PKR 1.37 trillion, far more than what the federal government transfers to its provinces. That figure doesn’t include pensions pegged at PKR 360 billion and the Armed Forces Development Program at PKR 340 billion.

There are other heads that are opaque, including the Defence Services Miscellaneous and Security Deposits, which runs to more than PKR 184 million. Add all of this up, and the total is far above the stated figure.

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