A third-world country like Pakistan that is on the brink of economic implosion, living on IMF loans and unable to guarantee the necessities of life
to its people is still procuring military equipment from some of the most advanced nations in the world! A country that has been kept on the FATF grey list yet again and regularly signs dubious deals with proscribed organizations and faces strictures by the
UK High Court with millions being debited from the bankrupt nation’s accounts due to the aforementioned shady deals. A country whose foreign exchange reserves stands as on date at only $13 billion- barely adequate for two months’ imports.
No prizes to guess the right answer, it’s a state where the Army has a nation, Pakistan. The situation has been further exacerbated by the Covid-19
pandemic. Ayesha Siddiqa, a noted Pakistani author and defense expert states, “before the pandemic, Pakistan was already burdened by an external debt of about $112 billion. Today it is facing the additional challenge of feeding some 25 million poor families
that can no longer make a living due to Covid-19. Moreover, the country saw a 30 percent reduction in tax revenue, due to the government’s incompetence and decreased spending caused by the coronavirus lockdown”. Or as Tara Kartha a former Indian
National Security Council member blithely states, “An Army that drives its posh SUVs oiled by Chinese money is bad news, whether in Mandarin, Punjabi or English”.
In such a situation, the leaders of Pakistan should have focussed on the economy and growth. However, Ayesha Siddiqa brings out, in comparison with the spending on the pandemic caused by the pandemic, the Government did not focus
on the economy “Islamabad allocated $7.85 billion for defense and merely $151 million for health in the budget for the financial year 2020-2021. This represents a 12 percent rise in Pakistan’s defense spending compared with the last financial year.”
Should we be surprised? Actually, no.
Zafar Mahmood Abbasi, Pakistan’s Chief of Naval Staff till October 2020, had painted his ï¿½vision’ to transform the Pakistan Navy. In a televised address to the nation on October 7, 2020, he spoke about three pillars of his
approach – (a) enhancing combat readiness, (b) jumpstarting the maritime economy, and (c) reinvigorating the ideological domain. Whilst the third facet of his address should worry the ï¿½friends’ of Pakistan, and, the new Biden
administration, the recent steps to procure state-of-the-art military hardware indicates the operationalization of Admiral Abassi’s plan.