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ہفتہ، 19 مارچ، 2011

Why trim the defence budget?

Pakistan`s Armed Forces are the only entity which is considered major hurdle in the way of Indian designs, and the anti-Pakistan elements,including some of our own so called think tanks, who are demanding a cut in the defence budget. Why? Why, at a time when the country is not only in a state of war, but it is actually fighting the war against terror and has rendered a huge number of sacrifices against terror elements who have made hostage the security, peace and writ of state.

Some elements within the country are hell bent upon distorting the image of the armed forces and the intelligence agencies of Pakistan. They are busy in propagating that the defence budget of the country is a major hurdle in the way of progress. In this backdrop the Pakistan military spokesman, Major General Athar Abbas, has rightly pointed out that the military institution works in accordance with the policies of government and that the Armed Forces have to maintain balance of power in the region particularly in the face of threat and enemies’ war preparedness. To determine the size of the army is also the government’s job, he said, adding the army has to prepare itself according to the defence capabilities of the enemy. He also said that no army in the world can disclose its development budget to the public. “If the civilian government considers that they could diminish the perils to the country through negotiation with India, then reduction in the army could take place.” He said that the budget of defence forces consists of two parts. The portion regarding maintenance funds can be discussed at every forum but the segment of the budget relating to development cannot be publicized as the enemy could get an idea about the areas where development was going to take place, so this portion is always kept secret. Some elements are trying to establish that the Army is a burden on the national development by criticising the armed forces. They are unleashing a well-planned misleading propaganda about high budget of Pakistan Army. The conspirators are saying that the funds related to defence could be used for prosperity of the country. They are creating the misunderstanding that defence takes away 40 per cent of the total budget. The fact remains that the neighbouring hostile India has expansionist designs, which has never accepted Pakistan’s existence and whenever got an opportunity, it has tried to harm the country. Indian intransigence on Kashmir that has been the cause of three wars between the two countries can once again cause another conflict. Therefore, it only makes sense that we should be on our guard against India’s vindictive agenda manifest in unprovoked firing along the LoC, sabre-rattling by its generals, fomenting violence on our soil like Balochistan, and diverting water. It has on record been increasing the defence budget and equipping its Armed Forces with sophisticated weapons. Recently India has added 11 per cent more to its actual defence budget allocated during the fiscal year, which is nine times bigger than that of the Pakistan defence budget. As Spokesman rightly pointed out, we do not intend to get into an arms race with New Delhi that is spending a whopping $36 billion on defence per annum, but we must keep ourselves strong enough for an eventuality of meeting the challenge of an imposed war. Gen Abbas stated that a reduction in spending can be considered in the event of political leadership making peace with New Delhi. This is in consonance with the reality of South Asia, where New Delhi constitutes a constant source of worry for Pakistan. According to Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, India tops the list of weapon buying nations. India expects to spend about $80 billion over the next 10 years in order to modernize its armed forces. The Indian defence budget for the next year is $32.5 billion. This is a whopping 40 per cent increase from just two years ago. It imports about 70 per cent of its weapons. A senior fellow at the Swedish institute said: “Just from what they have already ordered, we know that in the coming few years India will be the top importer,” China is developing its own arms manufacturers more quickly than India. As for arms sellers the US remains the largest exporter of arms followed by Russia and then Germany according to the institute. An analyst with Jane’s Defence Weekly said: “India has ambitions to become first a continental and [then] a regional power,” “To become a big boy, you need to project your power.” Russia is now being challenged by other suppliers who want a bigger piece of the Indian purchase pie. These include Britain, the US and France each of which have recently signed deals for fighter jets, trainers, and transport aircraft and even an aircraft carrier and submarines. The global military industrial complex is alive and well. No doubt the myriads of poverty stricken citizens of India will benefit from the military priorities of their government. If we take a look at the latest developments in the region, the Indo-US-Afghan nexus is a threat. The US and NATO forces are present in Afghanistan and on the eastern borders our hostile neighbour India is always poised to violate our boundaries. The former Indian army chief, Gen Deepak Kapoor, had boasted of ‘defeating’ Pakistan and China simultaneously in 96 hours. Afghanistan’s Karzai has also advised NATO to start a hunt-down operation inside Pakistan. While visiting Asadabad, capital of eastern province Kunar, he said that international troops should leave Afghanistan and take their fight against terrorism across the border into Pakistan. He said his government has shown NATO that the terrorists and militants are not in Afghanistan, but instead are hiding in neighbouring Pakistan. In the light of Indian weapon deals and increase in defence budget, Pakistan has to maintain balance of power in the region. On Kashmir issue, both countries have volatile relations. The water issue has further increased chances of armed confrontation between the two. Indian interference in Balochistan and other areas demand us to strengthen our armed forces and its intelligence network. The Armed Forces are not only defending the frontiers of homeland but also fighting insurgents and terrorists hiding in the tribal areas. The security forces have carried out successful operations in Swat, South Waziristan, Bajaur, Orakzai and elsewhere. Most of the areas have been cleared of the miscreants and the writ of government restored; a number of development projects are being carried out by them out of their allocated budget. They did not demand any increase in their budget to do the same. Pakistan’s Armed Forces are the only entity which is considered major hurdle in the way of Indian designs, and the anti-Pakistan elements, including some of our own so called think tanks, who are demanding a cut in the defence budget. Why? Why, at a time when the country is not only in a state of war, but it is actually fighting the war against terror and has rendered a huge number of sacrifices against terror elements who have made hostage the security, peace and writ of state.
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