Criticism of Pakistan’s defense budget has increased in recent years. Some people say that Pakistan is a poor country, so it should spend more of its budget on education and health instead of military power. In addition, Pakistan’s economy is in dire straits, supported by IMF bailout packages. It requires less military spending. However, these arguments carry little weight when we consider Pakistan’s geostrategic position. Since 1947, Pakistan has been repeatedly threatened by its neighbor India, which is five times its size. Due to Indian threats, Pakistan has decided to organize a strong military to protect its territory, integrity and sovereignty.
The primary fact is that Pakistan is not looking forward to territorial dominance over regional states. Instead, Pakistan has created a military that could maintain its territorial integrity in the presence of regional hegemons like India. Pakistan has always had a policy of self-defense. On the other hand, India’s antagonistic policy towards Pakistan has no choice but to build a strong military power.
Second, Pakistan faces a serious threat from India. Since its inception, Pakistan has faced constant threats from the east. Kashmir was the main reason for the dispute between the two neighboring countries. There were 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 1999 Kargil War and India’s misadventure in February 2019 force Pakistan to have a strong army to deter Indian threats. A strong military is helping Pakistan maintain its hard-won independence and sovereignty. Without a strong military, Pakistan would never have been a free country.
Third, Pakistan spends less on defense compared to other regional states. Pakistan’s arch-rival, India, spent $72.6 billion on its defense. Likewise, Saudi Arabia spends $55 billion on its defense. China spends $293 billion and Iran spends $24 billion. Compared to all these countries, Pakistan spends only $11 billion on its defense. These facts and figures explain that Pakistan spends very little on its military.
Fourth, Pakistan has never compromised other sectors such as health and education for defense. For the current fiscal year, federal and provincial governments have earmarked Rs 1,250 billion for education, accounting for 13 percent of GDP. Likewise, Pakistan spends 3.4 percent of its GDP on health. Pakistan may not have the best scores on social indicators as the ratio of taxes to GDP is very low. However, it has struggled to provide basic facilities to the people of the country.
In addition, Pakistan has faced terrorist threats since the war on terrorism launched by the US in 2001. To counter the threat of terrorism, the Pakistani army had to launch large-scale military operations in tribal areas and Swat. Despite meager resources at its disposal, the Pakistan Army defeated terrorism. To deal with the threats of terrorism, Pakistan needs a strong army to ensure the security of its citizens and sovereignty. The current new wave of terrorism requires a strong army to fight back with an iron fist.
In addition, in times of natural disasters, the Pakistan Army has always been on the front lines. During the earthquake of 2005, large-scale relief operations were carried out by the Pakistani army. Likewise, the Pakistani Army played an important role in evacuating people during the 2010 and 2022 floods. There is no denying that the Army has played an important role during times of national emergencies. In fact, the Pakistan Army has always protected the nation in times of both man-made and natural disasters.
Pakistan currently spends 1.523 billion on defense, accounting for 17.5 percent of the total. That is 2.2 percent of GDP. Contrary to popular belief, Pakistan’s defense budget has fallen from 2.8 percent to 2.2 percent. Pakistan experiences the worst inflation in the movement; However, the army has achieved a Rs 100 billion cut in its budget. This is another great example of the army’s sacrifice for its people.
In summary, the Pakistan Army plays an important role in the welfare affairs of the state alongside conventional warfare. Further reducing the budget will jeopardize both his offensive and defensive capabilities. In fact, the Pakistan Army needs more resources to deal with fifth generation unconventional warfare. To protect the nation, Pakistan Army needs more budget instead of cutting current budget.