By Farrukh Saleem
ISLAMABAD: It’s the economy, plain and simple. Pakistani generals want Pakistani economy to grow and to grow at the fastest pace possible. Here’s why.
The total length of Pakistan’s boundaries is 6,774 km — India 2,912 km, Afghanistan 2,430 km, China 523 km and Iran 909 km. And, Pak Army gets around $5 billion a year to keep Pakistan’s geographical integrity intact-roughly 3 percent of our $166 billion annual GDP.
Military strategists around the world look at the capacity of their adversaries, not their intentions. In 2009, India jacked up its defence budget by a hefty 24 percent. The same year, an interim defence hike was announced showing an accumulated increase of 55 percent.
As per SIPRI’s Yearbook 2010, India now has the 9th largest military budget and among emerging countries India, having imported $28 billion worth of killing machines since 2000, is the largest weapons buyer.
India has six neighbours; Pakistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burma, Nepal and China. India now spends a colossal $32 billion on defence; Pakistan $5 billion, Bangladesh $830 million, Nepal $100 million and Burma $30 million. Collectively, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Burma and Nepal spend $6 billion a year on defence. Who is India going to fight with?
Admittedly, China’s defence budget, at around $80 billion, is 2.5 times India’s and India’s border with China is 3,380 km long. According to a report by Stratfor, the Texas-based private intelligence agency, “China has been seen as a threat to India, and simplistic models show them to be potential rivals. In fact, however, China and India might as well be on different planets.
Their entire frontier runs through the highest elevations of the Himalayas. It would be impossible for a substantial army to fight its way through the few passes that exist, and it would be utterly impossible for either country to sustain an army there in the long term. The two countries are irrevocably walled off from each other… Ideally, New Delhi wants to see a Pakistan that is fragmented, or at least able to be controlled. Toward this end, it will work with any power that has a common interest and has no interest in invading India.”
To be sure, China and India are not military rivals. Furthermore, Bharatiya Sthalsena (the Indian Army) has a total of 13 corps of which 6 are strike corps. Of the 13 corps at least 7 have their guns pointed at Pakistan.
The 3rd Armoured Division, 2nd Armoured Brigade, 4 RAPID, Jaisalmer AFS, Utarlai AFS and Bhuj AFS are all aiming at splitting Pakistan into two (by capturing the Kashmore/Guddu Barrage-Reti-Rahimyar Khan triangle).
India’s army, with 3,773,000 troops plus 1,089,700 paramilitary forces, is second only to China in size. Indian Air Force, with a total aircraft strength of 1,700, is the world’s 4th largest.
The Indian Navy already operates some 13-dozen vessels with INS Viraat as its flagship, the only “full-deck aircraft carrier operated by a country in Asia or the Western Pacific, along with operational jet fighters.” Who is India going to fight with?
India currently spends 2.59 percent of its GDP on defence and the Indian economy is growing at around 7 percent a year. By 2020, India would be able to spare a colossal $60 billion a year for defence.
If Pakistan’s GDP grows by only 4 percent a year then by 2020 we would only be able to take our defence budget from $5 billion to a little over $7 billion. And, that would put Pakistan’s geographical integrity in jeopardy.
Economy ensures internal security (read: social harmony) and economic growth is the prerequisite to the expansion of the defence budget. Generals have their own reasons for wanting economic growth; the rest of us have our own. In effect, the goal is all the same. One mustn’t forget, however, that the highest form of generalship is to conquer the enemy by strategy — without resorting to war.