Saturday, June 3, 2017

Pakistan Armed Forces Defence Budget - Myths and Facts

We in Pakistan are very fond of sharing what we listen than first challenging the authenticity of a news or information. Mark Twain once remarked, “Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please.” And in contrast to what Twain said, we just do the opposite, believing the gossips that then travel down to the masses, specially when it comes to our "HUGE" defence spending. 
Politicians always twist facts and give an impression that the defence forces of the country eat away a major chuck f the budget, leaving not enough money to spend on the welfare of the people. And sure enough, the people who have never read the budget and its breakdown believe their politicians, a vast majority of which itself is unaware of the breakdown of the budget and percentage allocation to the defence budget to sustain the 6th largest army of the world.
Lieutenant General Tariq Khan (retired) is a well read general of Pakistan army who has a vast experience of combat, specially fight against terrorism, and working with the US led coalition forces during the ongoing Afghan conflict. He has a stint at the CENTCOM and is one of the few officers of Pakistan Army to be honoured with the Legion of Merit by USA. He often shares his views on the current strategic issues on TV and Facebook offering crisp and incisive analysis. Herein under, he discusses certain myths and facts about the percentage breakdown of the national budget vis a vis the defence allocation to set aside ill founded conclusions.
Myths about the Budget
Myth 1: The allocation for defence is the single largest component in our budget. Not true. The single largest allocation in Budget 2015-16 went to the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP). The second largest allocation in Budget 2015-16 went to servicing the national debt. The third largest government expenditure, including off the budget allocations, are the losses at public-sector enterprises (PSEs). Yes, the fourth largest government expenditure goes into defence.
Myth 2: The defence budget eats up a large percentage of the total outlay. Not true. In Budget 2015-16 a total of 15.74 percent of the total outlay was allocated for defence. PSDP and debt servicing were 30 percent each. What that means is that more than 84 percent of all government expenditures are non-defence related.
Myth 3: The defence budget has been increasing at an increasing rate. Not true. In 2001-02, we spent 4.6 percent of our GDP on defence. In 2013-14, twelve years later, our defence spending has gone down to 2.7 percent of GDP.
Myth 4: We end up spending a very high percentage of our GDP on defence. Not true. There are at least four dozen countries that spend a higher percentage of their GDP on defence.
They include: India, Egypt, Sri Lanka, the United States, the United Kingdom, South Korea, France, Eritrea, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Jordan, Liberia, Brunei, Syria, Kuwait, Yemen, Angola, Singapore, Greece, Iran, Bahrain, Djibouti, Morocco, Chile, Lebanon, Russia, Colombia, Zimbabwe, Turkey, Georgia, Guinea-Bissau, Ethiopia, Namibia, Guinea, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Algeria, Serbia and Montenegro, Armenia, Botswana, Ukraine, Uganda, Ecuador, Bulgaria, Lesotho and Sudan.

Here are some more interesting myths and facts:
Myth 5: The Pakistan Army consumes the bulk of the defence budget. Not true. In the 1970s, the Pakistan Army’s share in the defence budget had shot up to 80 percent. In 2012-13, the Pakistan Army’s share in the defence budget stood at 48 percent.
Now some facts:
Fact 1: The Pakistan Army’s budget as a percentage of our national budget now hovers around eight percent.
Fact 2: Losses incurred at public-sector enterprises can pay for 100 percent of our defence budget.
Fact 3: Pakistan’s armed forces are the sixth largest but our expenses per soldier are the lowest. America spends nearly $400,000 per soldier, India $25,000 and Pakistan $10,000.
Fact 4: Of all the armies in the world, Pak Army has received the highest number of UN medals. Of all the armies in the world, Pak Army is the largest contributor of troops to the UN peacekeeping missions.
Please pay special attention towards FACT 2 above.
I think after reading these facts and myths, those wanting to know the fact will have a clear picture of spending on defene and will be able to discuss with others with authority to dispel ill founded fears and would in fact appreciate the armed forces of Pakistan for maintinag itself with such meager resoucres but still keeping its flag high. 

Views shared above are that of Lieutenant General Tariq Khan (Retired), and can be debated if so desired.

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