The Spirit Unwavering: Pakistan’s Unyielding Morale in Times of Economic Crunch


Pakistan’s recently unveiled Budget 2023-24 has raised eyebrows with its allocation of a mere USD 6.3 billion for defense, representing 1.7% of the country’s GDP. This figure is 22% lower than the global average and marks the lowest defense spending in decades. In contrast, leading countries like Oman and Saudi Arabia allocate 8.8% and 8.5% of their GDP, respectively, for defense. Not far behind are Israel at 5.3%, Russia at 3.9%, the US at 3.4%, and India at 2.4%.

Over the years, Pakistan’s defense expenditure has steadily declined. In the 1960s and 1970s, it accounted for 5.5% and 6.5% of the GDP, respectively. The recently announced budget for 2023-24 unveils a significant dip, driving defense expenditure to a low of 1.7% of GDP, its lowest level in decades,
Comparing defense spending on a per capita basis, Pakistan’s expenditure appears modest globally. Notable countries like the United States, Israel, and India allocate significantly higher amounts. Despite its lower spending, Pakistan’s military maintains an impressive position as the 7th most powerful globally, thanks to cost-effective resource utilization and efficiency in achieving objectives.
In view of budgetary constraints, Pakistan’s military has undertaken measures to optimize resources and ensure financial prudence. The Army’s ‘Austerity Plan’ has yielded substantial reductions in expenses on petroleum products and utilities, as well as trimming procurement budgets and limiting non-essential aviation flights.
While India, Pakistan’s rival, has allocated a substantial USD 19.64 billion for military procurement (out of a total defense outlay of USD 81 billion), it faces challenges such as outdated equipment, ammunition shortages, and heavy reliance on foreign imports. Pakistan’s comparatively lower defense budget has not hindered its ability to efficiently manage its resources, maintain high morale among personnel, and achieve desired outcomes.

The defense budget accounts for 12.5% of the national budget, amidst a 37.97% inflation rate, reflects Pakistan’s commitment to balancing security needs with economic considerations. The Pakistani military’s role extends beyond border defense, shaping its own position within society and defending causes important to the country’s interests. Foreign policy scholar Stephen Cohen and geopolitical forecaster Dr. George Friedman emphasize the Pakistan Army’s significance in ensuring the nation’s cohesion and stability.
While Pakistan’s defense budget raises concerns, it is crucial to evaluate the potential consequences for national security and citizens’ well-being. Striking a balance between economic progress and national security is a complex challenge that requires prudent
 decision-making and long-term vision. Pakistan must carefully assess its strategic priorities in the face of evolving global threats and geopolitical dynamics.
The defense budget is a reflection of a nation’s commitment to its security and the welfare of its people. While fiscal constraints and economic development are important, maintaining a robust defense apparatus is vital for safeguarding Pakistan’s territorial integrity. Striking the right balance is paramount to secure a prosperous and stable future for the nation and its citizens.
In conclusion, Pakistan’s lowest defense budget in decades has raised concerns about the country’s strategic focus. While the budget allocation appears modest on a per capita basis, Pakistan’s military has showcased efficiency and cost-effective resource utilization. Balancing economic progress with national security remains a critical challenge that requires careful evaluation and long-term vision to ensure a prosperous and stable future for the nation.

The writer is an eminent analyst who regularly contributes for national and international print and electronic media. 
Twitter: @SaleemFarrukh

Courtesy by Dr. Farrukh Saleem -Hilal English

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An Islamabad-based Pakistani political scientist, economist, financial analyst, journalist, and television personality

Dr. Farrukh Saleem

An Islamabad-based Pakistani political scientist, economist, financial analyst, journalist, and television personality