I would much rather starve the country than allow any weakening of its defense”
Pakistan PM Muhammad Ali Bogra (1953-55)
Since the time of its inception, the state of Pakistan has adopted the model of a security state. The above statement made by the then Pakistan PM, Bogra, reflects the insecurity and the mindset that Pakistan was born to. Despite the growing socio-economic challenges faced by the country, Pakistan remains reluctant to depart from its traditional militaristic understanding of security. The recent 2020-2021 national budget presented by the state is a clear reflection of this viewpoint. Despite the outbreak of COVID-19 and subsequent economic slump, the national budget saw a spike in funds allocated for defense by a whopping 11.82% from the last fiscal year, bringing the number to Rupee(Rs.) 1.29 trillion in the present budget. Whereas, the size of the Federal Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) budget remained limited to only Rs. 650 billion.
The increase in the defense budget over the years along with a relative de-prioritization in the development funds reiterates the position long held by the Pakistani state that defense and security of the state is paramount, while regarding other considerations as secondary to that of national dignity and honor. The high defense allocation is mainly justified on concerns of protecting the border from hostile neighbors, India and Afghanistan.
To read the rest of the article, go to The Fletcher Forum.