ISLAMABAD: Pakistan was 2018’s 20th biggest military spender in the world with an expenditure of $11.4 billion, a report published by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri) said on Monday.

According to the report by the Sweden-based institute dedicated to research on conflict, armaments, arms control and disarmament, the military spending of 2018 made up for four per cent of Pakistan’s gross domestic product (GDP), which is the highest level since 2004.

The Sipri report ranked Pakistan among the top 10 countries with the highest “military burden” — described as a “state’s military expenditure as a share of GDP”.

Since 2009, Pakistan’s military spending has increased every year, the report stated, adding that between 2009 and 2018 the spending increased by 73 per cent. In 2017-18, the increase in military expenditure was 11pc, it said.

It said that India’s military spending rose in 2018 for the fifth consecutive year, and was 3.1pc higher than in 2017. At $66.5 billion, India’s spending was 29pc higher than in 2009.

Five biggest spenders have been identified as US, China, Saudi Arabia, India and France

According to the report, the five biggest spenders in 2018 were the United States, China, Saudi Arabia, India and France, which together accounted for 60pc of global military spending. Russia was the sixth-largest spender in 2018.

Despite this rise, India’s military burden in 2018 was at one of its lowest levels since the early 1960s — 2.4pc of the GDP compared with 2.9pc in 2009. The report said that increases in Indian military expenditure were largely motivated by tensions and rivalry with Pakistan and China.

Six of the 10 countries with the highest military burden in the world in 2018, it said, were in the Middle East: Saudi Arabia (8.8pc of GDP), Oman (8.2pc), Kuwait (5.1pc), Lebanon (5pc), Jordan (4.7pc) and Israel (4.3pc). The other four were Algeria (5.3pc), Armenia (4.8pc), Pakistan (4pc) and Russia (3.9pc).

India is among the five of the top 15 global spenders in 2018. China ranked second, India ranked four, Japan (rank 9), South Korea (rank 10) and Australia (rank 13). Military spending in Asia and Oceania was $507 billion in 2018 and accounted for 28 per cent of global military spending.

US military spending rose for the first time in seven years to $649 billion in 2018. China increased its military expenditure by 5pc and India by 3.1pc. Saudi Arabia decreased its military spending by 6.5pc, France by 1.4pc and Russia by 3.5pc, the report said.

By 2017, Afghanistan’s military expenditure had dropped by 26pc compared with 2009 but in 2018 spending increased by 6.7pc to $198m. Afghanistan’s military burden of 1pc of GDP in 2018 was perhaps surprisingly low considering the high intensity of the conflict between the Afghan government and the Taliban insurgency. However, most of the financial cost of the war in Afghanistan was shouldered by the USA, it said.

The institute did not estimate the total military expenditure in the Middle East since 2014 because of a lack of data for Qatar, Syria, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen. The combined total military expenditure for the 11 countries for which data is available in 2018 was $145bn.

According to Sipri, the world military expenditure is estimated to have been $1822bn in 2018. It was 2.6pc higher in real terms than in 2017 and 5.4pc higher than in 2009.

The world military burden — global military expenditure as a share of global gross domestic product (GDP) — fell to 2.1pc in 2018. This equals the level of 2014 — the lowest of the post-cold war period. Military spending per capita increased from $230 in 2017 to $239 in 2018, as the 1.1pc growth in world population was surpassed by the growth in military spending, it found.

Published in Dawn, April 30th, 2019