Pakistan Army has responded to the criticism generated by the increased defence budget allocation, saying that the allocation for the fiscal year 2022-23 has decreased from 2.8 per cent of the GDP last year to 2.2 per cent.
Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General Major General Babar Iftikhar said this during an interview with a private news channel today.
The government in its budget for fiscal year 2022-23 had allocated Rs1,523 billion for defence services.
DG Iftikhar defended the allocation for defence services and denied that it has seen an increase.
He said the allocation for defence services is based on the “threat perception, challenges, deployment and the resources available”. “So [after] considering at all these things, the army hasn’t had any [net] increase in the budget since 2020,” he claimed.
“When you look at inflation and rupee depreciation, it (defence budget) was actually reduced. It was 2.8pc of GDP last year and now we are at 2.2pc so the budget is continuously going down in GDP terms.”
He said that after factoring in this year’s inflation, the defence budget has actually taken a hit of Rs100bn.
He said that the army had returned to the government Rs6bn from Covid allotments and Rs3.5bn from other allotments in last year’s budget.
Talking about the austerity measures, he said instructions for conserving fuel and curtailing expenditures have been issued, adding that military would observe Friday as a “dry day” when no official transport would be used except for emergencies.
When asked about former prime minister Imran Khan’s claim of foreign conspiracy behind his ouster, the DG ISPR said he had “already clarified” the matter as he proceeded to reject the claim again.
The DG ISPR said the National Security Committee meeting that was held on the issue during Imran’s tenure was attended by top military leadership and the participants were “clearly and in detail briefed by agencies that there is no kind of conspiracy or any evidence of it”.
Talking about ailing former president Pervez Musharraf, the DG ISPR said that the former army chief’s family is in contact with the military regarding his mooted return to Pakistan in light of his ill health.
He said that Musharraf’s return to Pakistan is a decision for his family and doctors to make. He, however, added that “the institution and its leadership have the stance that he should come back”.
Speaking about Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa’s recent visit to China, the DG ISPR said that the visit was “very important”, adding that the trip would have “far-reaching effects” that would soon be seen.