Not Pakistan, at least not officially
While noting that India has increased its defence budget in spite of reduced tensions with Pakistan, the Pakistani government has let it be known that it is not overly concerned about the matter at all. That may be in part because, on its part, it spends one-fifth of its budget on the military – with parliament or politicians having no say on this matter at all.
However, some Indian financial experts are trying to show that in spite of this addition, the amount on Indian defence expenditure is still 2.5 per cent of its GDP while in China it is 6 per cent and in Pakistan 5.5. percent. Now which country is spending what percentage of GDP is not the correct comparison. People in China find themselves in a much better economic situation today than the masses in India. In fact, the defeat of the last government in India has been attributed to the economic deprivation of a very large number of Indians for whom there was no “India shinning” (sic) as was claimed by the previous government. As far as Pakistan is concerned, the 5.5 of the GDP that we are spending on defence is because of the war-like posture that our neighbour has been adopting over the years, and the latest demonstration of which can be found in the present Indian budget. Pakistan has continuously been trying to find a peaceful solution to all its outstanding issues with India, but India’s war-like attitude by piling up arms has led to this unnecessary arms race. In fact, Pakistan has been a victim of Indian aggression many times in the past. The only way out, therefore, is that India abandons this aggressive posture. [The News]
The above analysis is wrong for two reasons. Pakistan is the anti-status quo power in South Asia; if its military establishment would drop its ambitions to snatch Kashmir from India there would be little reason to fear India. Even if Pakistan worries about the ‘arms build-up’ in India, as Air Marshal Mohd Asghar Khan argues, its nuclear weapons give it a degree of strategic security that enable Pakistan to scale down its military spending. The trouble is again, a lack of democratic control over security policy and budgets.
Secondly, China has been able to achieve spectacular economic development and growth rates even as it maintained its defence spending at over 3% of its GDP. The view that defence expenditure comes at the cost of development expenditure ignores the fact that security is an important ingredient for economic development.
If China spends 6% of its GDP on defence, or India hikes its defence budget by about 18%, it is because they suppose they can. Pakistan should realise that the choice it faces: pragmatic economic development or dogmatic foreign policy. It cannot hope to have both.
Related Link: George Iype on what the defence spending increase entails.