ISLAMABAD:

The federal government proposed around 18% increase in the defence budget as the country continued to face internal and external security challenges, the budget document showed on Wednesday.

The defence budget outlay for 2024-25 is Rs2,128 billion – less than 12% of the total budget – compared to Rs1, 809 earmarked for the outgoing fiscal year 2023-24. However, the revised defence spending in the ongoing fiscal year would be Rs1,840 billion.

The defence spending is 1.7% of gross domestic product (GDP), showing a decline compared to the previous years. The defence spending in 2022-23 was around 2% of GDP, the size of which has grown due to the rebasing of the economy.

Defence analysts believe that a 17.6% increase is justified given a record inflation and devaluation of the rupee against the dollar in the last year.

A close look at the budget details revealed that the Rs2,128 billion figure did not include Rs662 billion allocated for pensions of retired military personnel and Rs402 billion

for the armed forces development programme.

According to the budget documents, out of Rs2,128 billion, Rs815 billion have been allocated for employees-related expenses, Rs513 billion for operating expenses, Rs548 billion for local purchases and import of arms and ammunition and Rs245 billion for civil works.

All three services—the army, the navy and the air force—were given an increase in the budget, although the army takes the major share given its size and the role.

On an average, Pakistan spends $13,400 per soldier, India $42,000, Saudi Arabia $371,000, Iran $23,000, while the United States allocates $392,000 per soldier annually, according to defence analysts. The difference, however, between Pakistan and other countries is that the size of their economies is far bigger than Pakistan.

The defence spending has always been the subject of discussions with some seeking greater transparency and open debate about the military’s budget. In recent years, the government provides more details about the defence budget. However, there has never been open debate within the parliament on the subject.

Observers believe that the increase in the defence budget is justified given the impending external and internal security challenges. Since the return of the Afghan Taliban to power, the number of terrorist attacks has increased in Pakistan.

Security forces have been conducting intelligence-based operations to tackle the renewed terror threat. The worsening ties with the Afghan Taliban have also compelled Pakistan to reinforce its resources along the western border.

Despite the ceasefire along the Line of Control (LoC) remaining intact, there have been a few reported violations of the truce, and tensions between Pakistan and India persist.

 

Highlight

Observers believe that the increase in the defence budget is justified given the impending external and internal security challenges

 



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