Last week, the Government of Pakistan announced that it would increase the country’s defence budget by 11% for the 2016-2017 fiscal year – raising the budget to PKR 860 billion (or $8.2 billion U.S.).
According to Dawn News, the budget will be divided in the following manner: $3.12 billion will go sustain the salaries of personnel; $1 billion towards the maintenance of buildings; $2.06 billion will be used for operational expenses; and $2.02 billion towards arms and ammunition procurement.
As per the Business Standard, the Army will receive 47% of the budget, the Air Force will be given 20%, and Navy will receive 10%. Note, it is not clear how procurements will be allocated, it could be that the Air Force and Navy will receive the lion’s share considering that they have big-ticket items in the pipeline.
Military pensions, the nuclear program, and the cost of the operations in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) are not part of the budget, they are allocated for separately.
Comment and Analysis
Given that the defence budget does not encompass all national security expenses in that it does not include the funds necessary to maintain the nuclear weapons program or operations in FATA), Pakistan’s military spending is higher than $8.2 billion U.S. At its height, Zarb-e-Azb cost the Pakistani exchequer $1.8 billion U.S. for 2014-2015; the cost for 2016-2017 will depend on the intensity of fighting as well as scale of reconstruction the Army deems necessary in FATA.
In terms of budgeted procurements, there are several major programs in progress: The Pakistan Air Force (PAF)’s JF-17 Thunder, which is gradually becoming the new mainstay fighter of the PAF fighter fleet; the Pakistan Navy may begin implementing its next generation submarine program; the Pakistan Army will begin to gear up for the induction of its new attack helicopters.
There are obviously many other acquisition programs at play as well, but these are likely the big-ticket items in the pipeline for the short and medium term. A core issue for the country’s defence strategists is to manage expenditures, particularly towards expensive imports.
Greater dependence on the domestic industry will enable the Pakistani military to take advantage of local labour and material costs, thereby saving it (and the country) money. This will be a key objective for the Ministry of Defence Production, which is aiming to indigenize and domestically source as much of the armed forces’ armament needs as possible.