ISLAMABAD: The Senate defence committee was informed by the ministry of defence that Pakistan's defence budget is the lowest in the region despite its location in the red zone in terms of growing threats to its security.
“Pakistan's defence allocation (US$5.7 billion approximately) is the lowest as compared to rising defence budget of India US$37.256 billion, China $115 billion, and Turkey $19.1 billion,” Additional Secretary Ministry of defence Air Vice Marshal Arshad Quddus told the committee meeting, which was specially called for the defence budget briefing.
According to the United Nations, Pakistan had a gross domestic product of US $215 billion in the year 2012. In comparison, GDP for Turkey was recorded at $788 billion, India at $1,875bn, and China at $8,358bn.
He disclosed that all defence and defence production organisations get their funds from defence budget allocated by the federal government and approved by the Parliament.
“Pakistan Army gets 48 per cent of the whole defence budget while 20pc goes to Pakistan Air force and Navy gets only 10pc,” the senior Air force officer said.
When asked about budget of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the additional secretary said the country’s premier intelligence agency also gets its money from the budget allocated for defence.
However, he avoided replying to questions about specific budgetary allocations for the ISI and its audit, saying, “Since the Indian RAW and Isreali Mossad’s budget is not disclosed,” so he would not say anything about the spy agency’s budget.
“There is absolute transparency in the making of the defence budget and strong audit and accountancy mechanism is well placed to check its proper spending,” the defence official said.
AVM Quddus admitted that military pensions, which have risen to over Rs100 billion, were not given from the defence budget but from civilian allocations.
He said whatever is left at the end of the financial year is returned to the federal government by the ministry of defence adding that defence establishment also returns annually Rs34 billion under various taxes out of the whole Rs570 billion defence budget.
The additional defence secretary showed his annoyance over certain questions by the media and members of the committee including Senator Farhatullah Babur and Senator Sughra Imam of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).
Speaking on the occasion, chairman of the committee, Senator Mushahid Hussain syed said this was first time in Parliamentary history that the ministry of defence was taking into confidence the defence committee and the media over the defence budget.
“There has been no genuine defence minister in Pakistan’s political history and with part-time minister, defence system will not work,” Mushahid remarked. He disclosed that when Parliamentary committee on national security formulated its terms of reference on reopening of Nato supplies, GHQ or ISI were not consulted and it was a sole parliamentary decision.
Senator Babar questioned the security establishment’s vast network of industrial, commercial and business enterprises throughout the country and said it had been kept out of public and parliamentary discourse and called upon the members of Parliament to equip themselves with knowledge and expertise to be able to exercise rigorous oversight of the Milbus.
“There is need to look into state subsidies and other support provided to these entities including Fauji Foundation, Army Welfare Trust, Shaheen Foundation, Bahria Foundation, Frontier Works Organisation, National Logistioc Cell and scores of others and examine its adverse impact on the growth of free market economy,” the PPP leader commented.