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Pakistan Faces Tough Choices on Defense Spending In Future

Dr Raj Kumar Sharma writes: Stimson Center, one of the leading think tanks in the world, has come out with a report ‘Military Budgets in India and Pakistan: Trajectories, Priorities, and Risks’. Written by Shane Mason, the report analyzes how India and Pakistan convert their economic strength into military power.

Stimson Center, one of the leading think tanks in the world, has come out with a report ‘Military Budgets in India and Pakistan: Trajectories, Priorities, and Risks’. Written by Shane Mason, the report analyzes how India and Pakistan convert their economic strength into military power.

On Pakistan, the report says that Pakistan spends more on its defense than the official budget. The practice of exceeding its allocated budget in Pakistan’s defense forces is in stark contrast to India, where services routinely underspend their budgets. One key observation is that the US military assistance to Pakistan is on the decline and this trend will continue in future as well. “US military aid accounted for 21 percent of Pakistan’s defense budget between 2002 and 2015, and now accounts for less than 11 percent. Pakistan will rely on China for major conventional platforms going forward, but Beijing’s support and subsidies are likely to be less than what Washington provided”, says the report.

India’s defense budget will further grow as its economy would be almost 15 times larger than that of Pakistan in 2030. Pakistan cannot match India conventionally in the long term, and any attempt to do so will exhaust its economy. Responding to adverse defense spending trends with increased reliance on nuclear weapons, especially short-range weapons may be a cost effective approach, but it is likely to diminish Pakistan’s national security, says the report. The dilemma facing Pakistan – increased reliance on short-range nuclear weapons at the expense of conventional and counterterrorism capabilities – will heighten as US military assistance and subsidies diminish.

In the long run, Rawalpindi will have to make tough choices about purchasing big-ticket weapons systems unless it can do so at concessionary rates. However, Countries and companies who otherwise would be interested in having a defense relationship with Pakistan may be reluctant to do so out of concerns about falling out of favor in New Delhi.

The link to the report is: http://www.stimson.org/sites/default/files/file-attachments/Military-Budgets-India-Pakistan-Trajectories-Priorities-Risks.pdf

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