While Pakistan’s citizens are queuing up for wheat flour, pulses and medicines, the Generals have usurped a major part of the Budget for new weapons, reported Afghan Diaspora Network (ADN).
The army, responsible for much of what is horribly wrong in Pakistan, cannot deny that it has fattened up on what has been snatched from the people.
The army cornered USD 669 million in 2019 which shot up to USD 760 million in 2020 and USD 884 million in 2021. These were the very years when the country suffered the Covid pandemic and then cataclysmic floods.
The latest data on the army’s procurements is confidential but a reliable estimate of the previous budgets as well as conservative estimates of combat requirements for the next five years would put the budgetary estimates to be higher than the present year.
For instance, the army in 2021 purchased armoured vehicles worth USD 263 million compared to USD 92 million in 2020. These vehicles were part of Pakistan’s efforts to maintain and upgrade conventional warfare capabilities.
In times of crisis, the so-called guardian of Pakistan, the army has refused to share close to USD 10 billion which its various enterprises generate every year.
Such largesse is spent as privileges and perks of military personnel, mostly to the generals in the form of land, houses and other benefits. This huge sum remains out of the public domain.
The 2022-23 defence budget is estimated to be PKR 1.53 trillion (USD 7.5 billion), a phenomenal 12 per cent increase over the original military expenditure in 2021-22.
This increase is extraordinary and criminal given the Civilian Government’s decision to impose heavy taxes-a whopping USD 170 billion-on already-burdened people to meet the IMF loan conditionalities.
There has been no let-up in the Defence Budget as the Country went down economically and otherwise. The increase this year was in sharp contrast to the cuts in spending on the development sector, health, education and housing.
Likewise, the navy bought ships and accessories worth USD 358 million in 2021 as compared to USD 145 million the previous year. Although the air force had not made any big-ticket purchases in the past few years, its budget for drones and sensors from China has increased. In 2021, it imported sensors worth USD 25 million, a sharp rise of USD 15 million from 2020.
Moreover, the Pakistan army also increased its investments in boosting capabilities for cyber warfare capabilities. A new cyber division headed by a Major General has been set up with the help of China.
Pakistan has also released a National Cyber Security Policy in 2021 which indicates an increasing budgetary outlay for increasing its capability in the cyber as well as artificial intelligence domain. The recent air force purchase of a Drone Jx gun from China indicates the new thrust.
Pakistan has also set up a secret cyber army unit with the help of Turkey while China has helped set up Information Security Laboratory (ISL) under the National Electronics Complex of Pakistan (NECOP).