• Thu. Jun 23rd, 2022

Pakistan’s Defense Budget in South Asia Region – OpEd – Eurasia Review

ByDebra J. Aguilar

Jun 10, 2022

Montesquieu was an 18th century sociologist and political scientist who believed that the geographical location of a region will have implications for its inhabitants. Pakistan is the country located in the geographical line with security problems and a chronic crisis in its neighbor.

The newly independent countries at the end of the Second World War had no choice but to come under the aegis of one of the world powers to safeguard their national interest. As a British colony, Pakistan naturally adopted the American side. Shortly after Pakistan’s independence, the 1948 war with India, then the war of 1965 and 1971. Kashmir remained the bone of contention between the neighbors, which led to wars, then finally a battle unstoppable strategy between the two countries.

The Russian invasion of Afghanistan and later the US “War on Terror” and its attack on Afghanistan once again brought instability to the region. In August 2021, US and NATO forces left Afghanistan, but the country is suffering from lack of resources and a governance crisis with non-actors like TTP.

The South Asia region is a tightly located region with a porous border where the insurgency moves and incidents in one country directly affect others. In this situation, Pakistan has sought to move out of the label of security state for a normal state, but the repeated incidents of lawlessness and security problems in the region do not allow Pakistan to do so. On the eastern side, Pakistan has India with a chronic conflict in Kashmir and a history of wars. On the western side, Pakistan has Afghanistan struggling to survive on its own, non-state actors in Afghanistan have remained a constant threat to Pakistan. Pakistan faces attacks from terrorists operating across the border in its area of ​​former FATA and Afghanistan. During this scenario, the Pakistani military fenced off the porous Afghan border with its resources to solve the problem of cross-border infiltration from Afghanistan.

Gabriel Almond, a political scientist, said that states are arranged in such a paradoxical order that, voluntarily or not, for their survival, they must interact with each other. Pakistan, in this situation, is compelled to adopt a strategic perspective while considering the strategic scenario of the region. Strategic gestures and stereotypes are necessary to address and maintain a position of defense of the national interest. Latest military training and equipment, research and experimentation, interacting with allies and training new allies are what Pakistan needs. This is a constant process that requires proper expenditure, but the Pakistan Armed Forces manage this with their limited resources.

Pakistan has been a weak economy for the past few years, the corona pandemic, international conflicts i.e. war in Ukraine, global inflation and internal political instability have made it difficult for Pakistan to meet the requirement. The Pakistan Armed Forces have successfully fulfilled their responsibilities of defending the country and fighting pandemics with their limited resources.

On the other hand, India has a defense budget of $70 billion and Pakistan a defense budget of $11 billion, which illustrates the huge difference in the amount of budget spent by India compared to in Pakistan. It is a fact that when it comes to spending on an individual soldier, India spends four times more than Pakistan. For a single soldier, Pakistan spends about $13,000 while India spends $42,000. India ranks third in annual defense spending in the world and India’s defense budget is seven times that of Pakistan. The fact that India remained the second largest arms importer between 2016 and 2020 has also been a challenge for Pakistan.

Despite the constant increase in the Indian budget and the constant challenges of threats, the Pakistani army has not increased its budget in the past two years. The strategic needs of the country have been met with the resources available. Despite the economic hardships, the armed forces of Pakistan are continuing their operational capabilities against terrorism and adoring themselves with modern strategic gadgets from available resources.

Jawad Ahmed is an Islamabad-based scholar with interests in politics, bilateralism and strategic studies. Can be attached to [email protected]