ISLAMABAD: In the ongoing war on terrorism the armed forces have so far lost the equivalent of two full brigades. Among those killed were one three-star and a couple of two-star generals.
Briefing defence committees of the two houses of parliament at General Headquarters on Tuesday (partly reported in Dawn on Wednesday), Director-General of Military Operations Maj-Gen Ashfaq Nadeem said that 3,097 personnel had been killed and 721 others permanently disabled.
The total number of Pakistanis killed in the conflict has gone up to 40,309. Maj-Gen Nadeem said the Inter-Services Intelligence alone had lost 63 personnel in various incidents, including attacks on its major stations.
Since 2007, he said, more than 140,000 armed forces personnel had been deployed along the Afghan border.
During the briefing, Chief of Army Staff Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani rejected a perception that defence spending consumed a major portion of expenditures allocated in the budget. He also denied that defence spending had been increasing over the years.
Gen Kayani said that in 2001 defence spending was 4.6 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product. But it had now declined to only 2.4 per cent of the GDP.
A parliamentarian who attended the briefing quoted the army chief as saying that about 50 per cent of the budget expenditures went to debt servicing and the Public Sector Development Programme. In contrast, only about 18 per cent of the total outlay was allocated to defence.
Gen Kayani said that up to 75 per cent of what was allocated to the defence services was spent on salary and rations of the personnel and just 25 per cent on “everything else”. According to him, Pakistan spends on three soldiers what India spends on only one soldier.
Organisations like the Army Welfare Trust and Fauji Foundation contributed billions of rupees to the national exchequer every year in the form of taxes, Gen Kayani said.
When asked why did his old friend and former US military chief Admiral Mike Mullen “stab him in the back” by levelling some serious allegations against Pakistan Army, he said: “Friendship does not matter in such issues.
“(Mike) Mullen did what he thought was in the interest of the United States and I will do what I think is in Pakistan’s interest.”
He said that before the attack on the GHQ in October 2009, there was an intelligence report about a possible assault there.
“Fifteen terrorists were living in a house but the neighbours did not bother to inform the relevant quarters about what was going on.”
Gen Kayani said public cooperation was required to effectively combat terrorism.