Pakistan is completely under the clutches of the army of the country and this is visible from increasing defense expenditure. The double-digit growth in defense expenditure despite low economic growth and mounting foreign debt shows that the military is not ready to compromise in its grandeurs at any cost. The democratically elected governments in Pakistan do not have the power to curb the spending of army. In fact, the allocated amount increases every year even if there is a slowdown in the economy.
Pakistan has increased defense spending to a new high of 4 percent of GDP in 2018. This is the highest spending since 2004 when former army General Pervez Musharraf was at the helm of state affairs. Pakistan’s defense spending in 4 percent of GDP compared to 2.4 percent of India but given the small size of the Pakistani economy, the total expenditure by Pakistan is 11.4 billion dollars 66.5 billion dollars of India. Pakistan’s military spending rose by 73 percent compared to 2009 levels and 11 percent compared to 2017.
Despite spending a higher percentage of GDP on defense, Pakistan is the 20th largest spender globally compared to the 4th position held by India. It’s defense spending in a paltry 20 percent of India and therefore there is no comparison between military capabilities of both countries. India’s defense budget of 66.5 billion dollars is more than the total budget of Pakistan’s central government which is less than 60 billion dollars. Pakistan increases the defense budget to be able to compete with India but the fact of the matter is that it could match Indian spending capabilities as the size of the Indian economy is 10 times larger.
India’s military has increased every year under the Modi government. In 2018, the spending grew by 3.1 percent compared to 2017 to reach 66.5 billion dollars. The expenditure has increased by 29 percent compared to a decade back. However, the defense spending GDP ratio of the country decreased over the years. “Despite this rise, India’s military burden in 2018 was at one of its lowest levels since the early 1960s: 2.4 per cent of GDP compared with 2.9 per cent in 2009. Increases in Indian military expenditure are largely motivated by tensions and rivalry with Pakistan and China,” read the SIPRI report.
The Pakistan government increased defense spending despite the burgeoning foreign debt. The external debt and liabilities are around 100 billion dollars. The external debt to GDP ratio of Pakistan is 36 percent against 20 percent of India. Pakistan has only a few friends left in the international arena to help the country. China, the all-weather ally has become bailout god for Pakistan. It has given 4.2 billion dollars since July last year. However, the money coming from China is not enough to pull the country out of debt and the country is seeking expensive commercial loans. The global lending institutions like World Bank, Asian Development Bank and IMF have been apprehensive to bail out Pakistan.
According to the ‘Social Outlook for Asia and the Pacific 2018’ report published by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN-ESCAP), Pakistan is among countries with the lowest spending on education, healthcare and social protection. Almost half of Pakistan’s budget amount is spent on defense and debt servicing (paying the loans and interest) which leaves little room for social sector spending. The expenditure on education and health has decreased in last few years due to prioritization of defense spending and burgeoning debt.