As Pakistan seeks to curb its defence budget due to a burgeoning financial crisis, a comparison between the country’s defence and education allocation throws up interesting information.After the eighteenth amendment in Pakistan constitution, education and health have been declared provincial subjects with the federal government responsible for higher education.
During former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s regime, Pakistan’s defence and education allocation was polls apart. In 2014, Pakistan’s defence allocation was Rs 700 billion(in Pak currency) compared to Rs 63 billion allocated for education. In 2015 it was no better with the Pakistan military taking the cake at Rs 772 billion compared to Rs 70.31 billion for the education sector. The same story repeated itself next year as the defence allocation hit a new high at Rs 860.1 billion with education lagging far behind at Rs 79.5billion.
In 2017, Pakistan’s defence allocation grew once again as it spent Rs 920 billion, however, the country’s education expenditure at the time is still unclear.
Last year, Pakistan’s military allocation leapt to Rs 1.26 trillion for the first time even as the education sector was allocated Rs 111.23 billion. However, in the last one year as Nawaz Sharif was forced to step down due to corruption charges, Pakistan’s economy went downhill.
After PTI chief Imran Khan became the new prime minister promising a “Naya Pakistan”, the country’s fiscal health continued to slide. The IMF has come to its rescue in the past month promising a $60 billion bailout with PM Imran Khan leaving no stone unturned to garner financial aid from friends abroad namely China, Saudia Arabia and Malaysia.
However, with the FATF noose tightening, Pakistan finds itself in a tight spot. PM Imran Khan today announced Pakistan will be cutting its defence budget, however, he did not specify the exact figure.
As things stand, the onus is now the military to press the austerity button as Pakistan seeks to crawl out of its acute financial crisis having spent decades spending billions on its military.