If we now count Pakistan’s national security challenges, there will be corrupt and inefficient political leadership, weak economy driven by elite-based taxation system, foreign-aided insurgents, terrorists and,of course, India, in the same order. The armed forces can fight only one of these threats.
Focus of Pakistan’s national security policies has always been its Eastern neighbor. Pakistan’s security establishment, therefore, was forced to remain India-centric. It has fought three major wars with India in a span of 64 years of its existence. It is likely to fight even more wars because the basic dispute leading to these past wars remains unresolved; the dispute of Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan was the most favored non-NATO ally of the sole super power. It fought its proxy war in Afghanistan for 10 years which ended in disintegration of USSR. When it was fighting the Afghan war, it was totally oblivious of the fallout of this war for its own security. The war ended in America’s victory but it left Pakistan bleeding even today; more profusely than ever. Lethal gifts of this war for Pakistan were three million refugees which not only bled its economy but created internal security problems. These refugees did not visit empty-handed, they brought the gifts like illegal weapons and drugs.
Then there was Taliban regime in Afghanistan which gave Pakistan some sigh of relief; its Northern and North-Western borders were secure for a short-while. After 9/11, Pakistan not only was pushed to fight this war on terror, it had to pay enormous material and economic price for this war. While its Eastern border remained peaceful, its internal situation is alarming. It has been isolated internationally and foreign powers are funding insurgency in Balochistan and target-killing in Karachi. Its archrival has become the largest importer of military hardware. It may have its ambitions beyond the region but its military deployment is clearly Pakistan-centric. India’s cold-start regime is another threat which makes Pakistan’s nuclear capabilities totally insignificant.
Pakistan today is friendless and it has national security challenges of unimaginable magnitude. This could be due to so many factors but the major reason is the quality of its political leadership. It politicians have their own personal and political interests which are clearly inconsistent with national interest. Their priority for national security is reflected in the Budget 2012-13. In this budget, the country’s defense has been allocated $5.8 billion which will depreciate at the speed of currency depreciation.
Consider: Pakistan has the 7th largest fighting machine but its ranking in defense spending is 33rd according to SIPRI military expenditure database. Its archrival has $45 billion defense outlay. Pakistan has been able to only promise $5.8 billion. This is just 12.8% or nearly one-eighth. While it can provide enough funds for democratic fixtures like a large body of parliamentarians who are worthless to the core and have not been able to add any value to the State; an army of ministers and sprawling houses for equally worthless heads of governments and provinces, it could only provide a paltry sum for its defense.
Consider: Pakistan’s defense outlay is no match to India’s. What about its war with terrorists and insurgents? While terrorists and insurgents are merely distraction for armed forces from Eastern borders, fighting them has an enormous cost. If we take into account these threats and thinning out of its security assets throughout the war-torn areas, its defense outlay against India’s should be close to 5%. And the amount allocated out of this $5.8 billions for purchase of military hardware is less than peanuts. Which means that, within the existing resources, Pakistan will remain unable to improve its defense capabilities.
Major reason for Pakistan’s economic problems is unwillingness of its elite to cough up and make contributions commensurate with the size of pie of the national wealth they have appropriated to themselves. Pakistan can finance its national security needs if it mobilizes its own resources.
Why this apathy towards national security?