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Don’t Blame the Pakistan Army for the Country’s Poverty

AsianLion

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Poor Nation, Rich Army

This Republic Day, Pakistan should consider why it remains underdeveloped as its military booms and booms under current government.

BY TAHA SIDDIQUI | MARCH 21, 2020, 2:24 PM

Pakistan Air Force cadets march next to the mausoleum of the country’s founder, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, to mark Defense Day in Karachi on Sept. 6, 2018. (Asif Hassan/AFP/Getty Images)
On March 23, Pakistan will celebrate its Republic Day with the same “zeal and fervor” as it does every year. As usual, the Pakistani military will come out in full force, with joint parades by the Army, the Air Force, and the Navy. The ostentatious marches will include a display of Pakistan’s nuclear-capable missile system, an air show, and gun salutes to local and international dignitaries present for the occasion.

The extravaganza is always broadcast live on local television channels, set to the fanfare of new propaganda songs produced especially for the event by the military’s media wing. It is rare for the public to question these theatrics—but doing so is more urgent than ever. Pakistan Military budget, money, land grabbing keeps rising under PTI Khan led government exponentially.


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Pakistan is going through some serious financial turmoil. Over the last few months, Prime Minister Imran Khan has crisscrossed the globe in search of aid to shore up the economy. Before one recent trip, he even acknowledged the country’s desperation for foreign money. Meanwhile, the country’s finance minister, Asad Umar, has been busy negotiating a new bailout package with the International Monetary Fund—Pakistan has been in the care of the IMF for 22 years out of the last 30. Inflation is at a four-year high, reaching over 8 percent, and Islamabad believes that it could tick even higher.

One-third of Pakistan’s population lives under the poverty line, and the country is ranked at 150 out of 189 countries in the latest United Nations Human Development Index.

Although Pakistan’s recent economic woes are troubling, the country has faced similar pressures for years. One-third of its population lives under the poverty line, and the country is ranked at 150 out of 189 countries in the latest United Nations Human Development Index. The national debt stands at around $100 billion, while its foreign exchange reserves are a meager $15 billion. The value of the Pakistani rupee, one of the worst-performing currencies in Asia, has dropped 31 percent since 2017.

Yet anyone watching the parade on March 23 may believe that all is well, costing millions to Pakistani exchanger. Pakistan is booming. And they certainly won’t get the impression that the military is, in fact, behind many of the country’s economic problems. But after debt servicing, the military is Pakistan’s biggest economic burden.

Already, over 20 percent of the annual budget officially goes to the military, but the armed forces have been pushing for more every year. Just in the last budget cycle, it won a 20 percent hike in its yearly allocation. The actual expense of the military is even higher, but it is hidden by moving some of the expenses to other budget lines. The parliament neither seriously debates the military budget nor subjects its spending to audit. By contrast, the country spends less than 5 percent of GDP on social services like education and health care, well below the regional average.

The military mainly protects itself by keeping the threat of India alive. The two nuclear-armed neighbors have been in conflict since the partition of South Asia in 1947. The militaries have fought four wars, with three of them over Kashmir valley. Even though Pakistan initiated these conflicts, it has told the public that it was only countering Indian aggression. In recent years, Pakistan has avoided a direct war, just to keep its Military Power hungry alive. But it relies on militant groups based in Pakistan to keep tensions alive. This February offered a glimpse of such dynamics at play. In turn, the Pakistani Army gets the perfect excuse for its oversized burden on the country’s economy. Like a mafia protection racket, the military creates its own demand.

But it is not just the military’s budget that is eating away at the resources of a country that it has directly ruled for half of Pakistan’s 72 years of existence. Today, the armed forces’ empire has expanded well beyond its traditional role in security. It runs about 50 commercial entities. The military’s main business arm, the Fauji Foundation, has seen enormous growth. According to Bloomberg, its assets grew 78 percent between 2011 and 2015, and it has annual income over $1.5 billion. The military-backed organization has stakes in real estate, food, and the communications industry.

It appears that the business wing of the military is expanding even more under the Khan government. Khan’s critics allege that the military backed his candidacy and now, in return, enjoys relative freedom to do what it wants. There is plenty of evidence to back those claims.

Reuters recently reported that the Pakistani Army is moving into another lucrative industry: mining and oil exploration. Khan’s government is reportedly facilitating the arrangements by giving the military preferential treatment during negotiations.

Meanwhile, the military seems to be getting its way in a push to roll back a 2010 constitutional amendment that allotted more government funds for local government use, shrinking the available budget to the central government and hence limiting military disbursements. The government under President Asif Ali Zardari had been able to push through the amendment because the memory of military rule under Gen. Pervez Musharraf was still quite fresh. He had been ousted only 20 months earlier.

DISPATCH | LAWRENCE PINTAK

Since those days, it appears that the military’s influence is creeping back to the fore, and it wants to see the end of an amendment that it believes is a hindrance to its budgetary expansion. In March last year, the military chief of staff, Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa, even spoke publicly against the 2010 amendment, which was widely reported by the local media. He even blamed the country’s financial woes on it. Now, the ruling party’s members are parroting similar concerns.

Islamabad must realize that the more the military budget expands, the harder it will be to push the institution back into a more appropriate and limited role in a country. Instead of parades like the one on March 23 that endorse further militarization, the country’s policymakers should use the day as an opportunity to think about why Pakistan remains poor as its armed forces continue to get richer.

There’s no better time for some introspection than Republic Day, when Pakistan’s founders passed a resolution demanding independence from British-controlled India. 72 years later, the country that got freedom from its colonial masters has now become hostage to its own military. The path to true independence and progress lies through peaceful economic development, not though a perpetual wartime economy.

Taha Siddiqui is an award-winning Pakistani journalist living in exile in Paris since 2018. He teaches journalism and is writing a book on Pakistan. He also manages the website safenewsrooms.org, documenting media censorship in South Asia. Twitter: @TahaSSiddiqui
 

nahtanbob

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Poor Nation, Rich Army

This Republic Day, Pakistan should consider why it remains underdeveloped as its military booms and booms under current government.

BY TAHA SIDDIQUI | MARCH 21, 2020, 2:24 PM

Pakistan Air Force cadets march next to the mausoleum of the country’s founder, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, to mark Defense Day in Karachi on Sept. 6, 2018. (Asif Hassan/AFP/Getty Images)
On March 23, Pakistan will celebrate its Republic Day with the same “zeal and fervor” as it does every year. As usual, the Pakistani military will come out in full force, with joint parades by the Army, the Air Force, and the Navy. The ostentatious marches will include a display of Pakistan’s nuclear-capable missile system, an air show, and gun salutes to local and international dignitaries present for the occasion.

The extravaganza is always broadcast live on local television channels, set to the fanfare of new propaganda songs produced especially for the event by the military’s media wing. It is rare for the public to question these theatrics—but doing so is more urgent than ever. Pakistan Military budget, money, land grabbing keeps rising under PTI Khan led government exponentially.


Powered By

Pakistan is going through some serious financial turmoil. Over the last few months, Prime Minister Imran Khan has crisscrossed the globe in search of aid to shore up the economy. Before one recent trip, he even acknowledged the country’s desperation for foreign money. Meanwhile, the country’s finance minister, Asad Umar, has been busy negotiating a new bailout package with the International Monetary Fund—Pakistan has been in the care of the IMF for 22 years out of the last 30. Inflation is at a four-year high, reaching over 8 percent, and Islamabad believes that it could tick even higher.

One-third of Pakistan’s population lives under the poverty line, and the country is ranked at 150 out of 189 countries in the latest United Nations Human Development Index.

Although Pakistan’s recent economic woes are troubling, the country has faced similar pressures for years. One-third of its population lives under the poverty line, and the country is ranked at 150 out of 189 countries in the latest United Nations Human Development Index. The national debt stands at around $100 billion, while its foreign exchange reserves are a meager $15 billion. The value of the Pakistani rupee, one of the worst-performing currencies in Asia, has dropped 31 percent since 2017.

Yet anyone watching the parade on March 23 may believe that all is well, costing millions to Pakistani exchanger. Pakistan is booming. And they certainly won’t get the impression that the military is, in fact, behind many of the country’s economic problems. But after debt servicing, the military is Pakistan’s biggest economic burden.

Already, over 20 percent of the annual budget officially goes to the military, but the armed forces have been pushing for more every year. Just in the last budget cycle, it won a 20 percent hike in its yearly allocation. The actual expense of the military is even higher, but it is hidden by moving some of the expenses to other budget lines. The parliament neither seriously debates the military budget nor subjects its spending to audit. By contrast, the country spends less than 5 percent of GDP on social services like education and health care, well below the regional average.

The military mainly protects itself by keeping the threat of India alive. The two nuclear-armed neighbors have been in conflict since the partition of South Asia in 1947. The militaries have fought four wars, with three of them over Kashmir valley. Even though Pakistan initiated these conflicts, it has told the public that it was only countering Indian aggression. In recent years, Pakistan has avoided a direct war, just to keep its Military Power hungry alive. But it relies on militant groups based in Pakistan to keep tensions alive. This February offered a glimpse of such dynamics at play. In turn, the Pakistani Army gets the perfect excuse for its oversized burden on the country’s economy. Like a mafia protection racket, the military creates its own demand.

But it is not just the military’s budget that is eating away at the resources of a country that it has directly ruled for half of Pakistan’s 72 years of existence. Today, the armed forces’ empire has expanded well beyond its traditional role in security. It runs about 50 commercial entities. The military’s main business arm, the Fauji Foundation, has seen enormous growth. According to Bloomberg, its assets grew 78 percent between 2011 and 2015, and it has annual income over $1.5 billion. The military-backed organization has stakes in real estate, food, and the communications industry.

It appears that the business wing of the military is expanding even more under the Khan government. Khan’s critics allege that the military backed his candidacy and now, in return, enjoys relative freedom to do what it wants. There is plenty of evidence to back those claims.

Reuters recently reported that the Pakistani Army is moving into another lucrative industry: mining and oil exploration. Khan’s government is reportedly facilitating the arrangements by giving the military preferential treatment during negotiations.

Meanwhile, the military seems to be getting its way in a push to roll back a 2010 constitutional amendment that allotted more government funds for local government use, shrinking the available budget to the central government and hence limiting military disbursements. The government under President Asif Ali Zardari had been able to push through the amendment because the memory of military rule under Gen. Pervez Musharraf was still quite fresh. He had been ousted only 20 months earlier.

DISPATCH | LAWRENCE PINTAK

Since those days, it appears that the military’s influence is creeping back to the fore, and it wants to see the end of an amendment that it believes is a hindrance to its budgetary expansion. In March last year, the military chief of staff, Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa, even spoke publicly against the 2010 amendment, which was widely reported by the local media. He even blamed the country’s financial woes on it. Now, the ruling party’s members are parroting similar concerns.

Islamabad must realize that the more the military budget expands, the harder it will be to push the institution back into a more appropriate and limited role in a country. Instead of parades like the one on March 23 that endorse further militarization, the country’s policymakers should use the day as an opportunity to think about why Pakistan remains poor as its armed forces continue to get richer.

There’s no better time for some introspection than Republic Day, when Pakistan’s founders passed a resolution demanding independence from British-controlled India. 72 years later, the country that got freedom from its colonial masters has now become hostage to its own military. The path to true independence and progress lies through peaceful economic development, not though a perpetual wartime economy.

Taha Siddiqui is an award-winning Pakistani journalist living in exile in Paris since 2018. He teaches journalism and is writing a book on Pakistan. He also manages the website safenewsrooms.org, documenting media censorship in South Asia. Twitter: @TahaSSiddiqui
I would not say the pakistani army is rich in any respect
 

Mace

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Aug5 was the moment when Pak armed forces should have put their money where there mouth is. This was the situation for which Pak armed forces were primarily created for. Protect Pak’s interest in IOK.

Pak armed forces by their inaction post Aug5 have made themselves redundant and are going to be a huge drag on Pak economy.
 

GumNaam

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Aug5 was the moment when Pak armed forces should have put their money where there mouth is. This was the situation for which Pak armed forces were primarily created for. Protect Pak’s interest in IOK.

Pak armed forces by their inaction post Aug5 have made themselves redundant and are going to be a huge drag on Pak economy.
what makes you think the Pakistan Army isn't? wasn't you goi whining about an increase in BAT teams just a few weeks ago before corona deafened their whining out? :lol:
 

Mace

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what makes you think the Pakistan Army isn't? wasn't you goi whining about an increase in BAT teams just a few weeks ago before corona deafened their whining out? :lol:
BAT teams, that’s the best you can come up with :lol::lol:
 

fisher1

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When Pakistan Army ruled the country; we faced astonishing economic growth. Massive projects were initiated and completed with utmost efficiency, they didn't have to go through years of bureaucratic sluggishness; in which millions of dollars are lost before we even complete anything.

Who do you think built Islamabad, the world's largest dams, Gwadar, etc...


No one pays income taxes.
The reason for that is America was funneling money to Pakistan. For the Afghan war, then for 9/11. It appeared to be growth.

The gift we received for slaving over to America and these military dictators is terrorism, drugs, Islamophobia, gigantic loans.

Quad e Azam failed. We may have received independence from British but we ended up going to slavery of America and Chinese.

That's not what Quaid e Azam and Alama Iqbal wanted, for us to be a beggar state.

Look at this coronavirus situation. We're still on our knees begging for more loans.
 

Mace

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apparently even that's too much for your ladies in uniform to handle given the whining...:lol::lol:
Looking at your post it is not just Pak army that has given up. :disagree:

You should invest in more BAT teams. Very cheap and apparently it keeps you all happy :D
 

fisher1

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Thanks for pointing out. There is a rough correlation.

US aid started in mid-1950s. your generals took over in 1958 until 1971.

You had a coup in 1977. Afghan aid started in 1980. US aid ended in 1990 until Sep-11. You moved from martial law to democracy in 1988

Musharraf did not get any help from 1998 to 2001. Look at the economic record during that time frame.
From 2001 to 2007 he had a comfortable time.

Civilians took over in 2007. US aid tapered off after 2010.
It's almost like America brought these dictators upon us for the next impending war. That can't be?

Does America do regime changes in other countries and meddle in other countries? Nah.

These military dictators were good people who came when people needed them. Any relation to American wars is purely coincidental :pakistan:
 

GumNaam

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Looking at your post it is not just Pak army that has given up. :disagree:

You should invest in more BAT teams. Very cheap and apparently it keeps you all happy :D
if its that cheap then why don't you have your goi lift the media & internet blackout in iok. pata chal jaye ga kon kitnay paani may hay. 8-) speaking of paani, your jahil chai vala couldn't even stop that, how can he stop the infiltration!!! :lol:

It's almost like America brought these dictators upon us for the next impending war. That can't be?

Does America do regime changes in other countries and meddle in other countries? Nah.

These military dictators were good people who came when people needed them. Any relation to American wars is purely coincidental :pakistan:
@waz @TheEagle please do something about this injun poser.
 

CrazyZ

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The PPP and PML are largely to blame. Pakistan has followed various wrong economic models since the 1960s. First the PPP's nationalization drive destroyed our competitiveness. Later they would invest heavily in oil fired generation further destroying our competitiveness. Then the PML pursued a service based import growth economy which cant be sustained since forex keeps runs out. Pakistan needs a third party that is focused on sustainable economic growth based on the east asian model....we need to give PTI time IMO.
 

fisher1

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@waz @TheEagle please do something about this injun poser.
Shame on you, you racist creep.

Grow a gall and don't be a sissy. Nothing i said disrespects my beloved Pakistan army. It does disrespect the generals that destroyed my country. Pakistan army isn't defined by generals, thankfully. It's the "Gumnaam" heroes with crappy pay giving their lives at borders and in air.

Are you going to curse Quad e Azam and Alama Iqbal too because they wanted freedom and civilian supremacy for us.
 

GumNaam

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Shame on you, you racist creep.

Grow a gall and don't be a sissy. Nothing i said disrespects my beloved Pakistan army. It does disrespect the generals that destroyed my country. Pakistan army isn't defined by generals, thankfully. It's the "Gumnaam" heroes with crappy pay giving their lives at borders and in air.

Are you going to curse Quad e Azam and Alama Iqbal too because they wanted freedom and civilian supremacy for us.
oOoOoOoOoOoOoH...injun get angry cuz injun get exposed and injun feel butthurt in the throbbing injun bunghole!!!8-)

@Rafi @JohnWick aik aur pakra gaya!!! :lol:
 
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