05 Jun 2019
In a rare move, Pakistan agrees to cut military budget
As Pakistan is facing a mounting economic crisis, the country's military has agreed to cut its budget for the next fiscal year.
Prime Minister Imran Khan took to Twitter on Tuesday to appreciate this move by the Army. Notably, Director General Inter Services Public Relations, Asif Ghafoor, said a cut in the budget doesn't mean defense security will be compromised.
Here's what we know.
Budget of Army stops Pakistan from concentrating on other areas
The Pakistan Army, which is one of the biggest in the world, takes up a chunk of their budget. This stops the country from spending money on other important areas like education, health, and infrastructure.
Reportedly, 40% of Pakistan's population is illiterate.
The country also needs to rebuild Afghanistan-bordering areas which have been destroyed due to years of Islamist-insurgency. Khan said reviving violence-raked Balochistan is also his priority.
IMF agreed to loan money to Pakistan but with conditions
As the country is struggling to stay afloat, it struck a deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a loan of $6 billion.
But Islamabad won't get the funds till it introduces measures to curtail increasing deficit. The country has been asked to substantially decrease defense spending.
In all its years of existence, Pakistani leaders rarely put a cap on the military budget.
Pakistani governments rarely cut defense budgets, but Khan did
Earlier, Pakistani leaders didn't cut the military budget as they didn't want to strain ties between government and army.
Khan may have managed to pull the nearly impossible task because of the cordial relations he shares with generals in the Pakistani Army.
Notably, Pakistan hands over half of its budget to provinces. The other half is eaten by debt servicing and military budget.
Khan didn't reveal details about budget, but thanked military
The previous government increased the defense budget by 20%, but the Army is believed to have gone overboard.
Meanwhile, Khan hasn't revealed details about the cut but thanked the military for allowing its budget to go under the hammer.
"I appreciate Pakistan military's unprecedented voluntary initiative of stringent cuts in their defense expenditures for next FY because of our financial situation," Khan tweeted.
Meanwhile, Ghafoor assured that nothing will change
Voluntary cut in def budget for a year will not be at the cost of def security. We shall maint effective response potential to all threats.Three services will manage impact of the cut through appropriate internal measures. It was imp to participate in dev of tribal areas Bln.— Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor (@OfficialDGISPR) June 4, 2019
In February, government junked the idea of reducing defense budget
To recall, the government had decided in February to not make any changes in the defense budget.
"The country's defense budget is already low as compared to other states in the region, and therefore it should be increased," minister Fawad Chaudhry had said at the time.
But looks like scaling problems pushed Pakistan to realize that arms don't feed empty stomachs or educate people.