Defence anxieties

Published March 2, 2015
A batch of JF-17 Thunder Aircraft being received during the Induction Ceremony of JF-17 Thunder held in the Combat Commanders School (CCS) of Pakistan Air Force in Islamabad on Monday, January 26, 2015. — PPI/file
A batch of JF-17 Thunder Aircraft being received during the Induction Ceremony of JF-17 Thunder held in the Combat Commanders School (CCS) of Pakistan Air Force in Islamabad on Monday, January 26, 2015. — PPI/file

First, the bad news. The Indian defence budget is set to hit a record high of $40bn. That compares with a basic and Pakistani military budget of roughly $7bn.

Moreover, a good chunk of the Indian military budget has been set aside for capital acquisitions, ostensibly to try and keep up with rapid Chinese military expansion – though the security establishment here believes many of the items on the Indian military wish list are there with an intention of increasing its war capabilities against Pakistan.

Now, to the somewhat better news. In percentage terms, the increase in the defence budget is lower than the current Indian fiscal year (April-March).

Take a look: ‘Pakistan’s defence spending lowest in region’

Military expenditure as a percentage of GDP is below two per cent and dropped further this year. And the latest budget suggests, according to Indian defence analysts, that the Narendra Modi-led government has decided to move more slowly than expected in meeting the demands of the Indian security establishment.

There are two aspects here that are particularly worth bearing in mind, one for Pakistan, the other for India.

For Pakistan, the thought of the Indian military pulling out of sight in conventional terms can be an uncomfortable – possibly, unacceptable – one. However, not everything the hawks here perceive is necessarily true.

Consider that while the Indian defence budget is set to cross $40bn, the Chinese defence budget is roughly four times larger.

India also has to compete for control in the Indian Ocean, a formidably expensive proposition.

Moreover, the Indian military’s modernisation project has come after years of under-investment – so the punch it can pack may not be as big as the $40bn figure suggests.

The Pakistani security establishment is right to closely track Indian defence spending because India remains, in terms of its military capabilities, the principal threat to Pakistan’s security. But a rational, logical perspective is really what is needed rather than the wild conjecturing in some hawkish quarters.

For India, there should be a realisation that goes beyond the plain numbers: the further away it pulls from Pakistan in the conventional field, the more it will create pressure on Pakistan to perhaps lower the nuclear threshold to stave off the threat of conflict.

Simply, much as some in India would like to separate the question of competing with China from the need to manage risk with Pakistan, the overall Indian military capability will send a message in both directions. Stability will only come from advancing dialogue with Pakistan.

Published in Dawn March 2nd , 2015

On a mobile phone? Get the Dawn Mobile App: Apple Store | Google Play

Opinion

Climate & youth

Climate & youth

Disillusionment and anxiety are on the rise among youth as they confront the diminishing prospects of a better tomorrow.
Our exclusivity syndrome
Updated 17 Oct 2021

Our exclusivity syndrome

Pakistan needs at least a minimum level of inclusivity that can keep alive democratic values.
Shafqat Kakakhel
Updated 16 Oct 2021

Shafqat Kakakhel

COP26 has to achieve consensus on several issues.

Editorial

Carnage in Kandahar
Updated 17 Oct 2021

Carnage in Kandahar

Pakistan’s anti-extremism policy is in many ways half-baked and inconsistent.
17 Oct 2021

Sanctity of contracts

PAKISTAN is facing yet another international dispute before the International Centre for Settlement of Investment...
17 Oct 2021

New sports policy

THIS week, the Pakistan Football Federation Normalisation Committee chief Haroon Malik was in Zurich to hold ...
Diminishing freedom
Updated 16 Oct 2021

Diminishing freedom

DESPITE the serious reservations of digital rights activists and tech companies, the federal government has...
16 Oct 2021

Dirty politics

IN her outburst against Prime Minister Imran Khan this week, PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz may not have taken names but...
16 Oct 2021

Decreasing emissions

THE announcement by SAPM on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam that carbon emissions in the country came down by 9pc...