- Military's spokesperson says India has been expanding its budget but Pakistan has not increased its allocation since 2020
Director-General of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Major General Babar Iftikhar on Tuesday defended the annual defence budget allocation for fiscal year 2022-23, saying that the share had decreased if factors such as inflation and rupee depreciation were taken into account.
In the budget presented on Friday, a sum of Rs1,527 billion was allocated to defence services for 2022-23, an increase of 11.2% from the original estimates for the current year. Total defence allocation for the next fiscal year (2022-23) is also 15.8% of the total budget and 2.1% of GDP against 16.19% and 2.5%, respectively, in the current fiscal year.
The original allocation for the outgoing fiscal year was Rs1.37 trillion which was revised upwards to Rs1.48 trillion. The defence budget does not include pensions estimated at Rs395 billion (and itemized under current expenditure) which reflect a 9.7 percent increase from last year — while other major defence-related procurements and strategic programmes are not itemised in the budget including the nuclear weapons programme.
In an interview with anchor Kamran Shahid on Dunya News show 'On the front', DG Iftikhar said that the money earmarked for defence services was based on the "threat perception, challenges, deployment, and the resources available".
"So [after] considering at all these things, the army hasn't had any [net] increase in the budget since 2020," the DG ISPR claimed.
"When you look at inflation and rupee depreciation, it (defence budget) is actually reduced. It was 2.8% of GDP last year and now we are at 2.2% so the budget is continuously going down in GDP terms."
Comparing Pakistan's defence budget with India, DG ISPR said that the neighbouring country has been expanding its budget but Pakistan had not increased its allocation since 2020.
“If you look at the defence budget from an inflationary perspective, then it has been reduced. The budget of the armed force, compared to the GDP, is constantly going down,” said Maj Gen Iftikhar.
Talking about Pervez Musharraf's health, he said the military leadership believes that the former army chief should return to the country.
“We have contacted his family. Once his family responds, we can make the required arrangements,” he said.
Talking about Pakistan and China's bilateral relationship, he said that the Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa’s recent visit to China was very important, adding that Beijing has played an important role in increasing Pakistan’s defence prowess.