Friday, September 3, 2010

Can We Please Cut This Defence Budget Now?

Seriously. With a defence budget that refuses to go down (and a new-found propensity for neo-liberalist debt repayment amongst those who once associated with Marxists) whilst people build their houses in dried up river beds (which kill when they're no longer dried), the Pakistani elite continues a state of affairs that melded negligence with the worst sort of prioritisation.

Criminal misallocation of resources is why the population of Pakistan is now some uncountable number north of 180 million, why this number will continue to grow without let or hindrance, and why it was some of the most underprivileged people who had to bear the brunt of this flood. The practise of a near aparthied level of informal classism by the Pakistani elite has led to this state of affairs. The contempt shown for the daily disenfranchised shown casually by members of the elite, is mirrored in national policy, a tendency magnified manifold during military rule which has now led to this state of affairs. If these floods are not enough to change attitudes, then I don't know what is.

6 comments:

Ahsan said...

Nice blog, methinks I should link to it.

TLW said...

Thank you Ahsan.

Keep blogging sir.

Emad said...

Agree with the sentiment but curtailing military spending is completely unrealistic, especially now when there's a war on terror being fought and a massive military-led relief effort underway. What's more realistic in the context of the disaster management process, as the Business Recorder argues today (http://www.brecorder.com/index.php?id=1100861&currPageNo=1&query=&search=&term=&supDate=), is curtailing non-essential, non-development expenditure and scaling back some of the development plans in the pipeline.

TLW said...

No Emad, defence spending can be cut.

Non-essential DEFENCE spending should be cut. There is waste in our overly large military complex that needs to be drawn down. Political, yet none the less ex militar officers like Ayaz Amir and Kamran Shafi are constantly pointing to all the wastage of funds our military establishment manages to do.

Civilian spending is already criminally low. Our military on the other hand, is an elite run institution. A good place to begin would be for weapons system procurement that can only be used on the flat plains against an adversary like India.
The militaries of Pakistan, the United States and India have all acknowledged that Pakistan has drawn down so many troops from the Eastern border, that there is no threat to India there. And God forbid if the Indians decide to go to war, it takes them three weeks to mobilise all their assets and reach the Indo-Pak frontier. On the other hand our in our mountain war, we need infantry (standard, mountain and mechanised), helicopter support, some artillery, and bomb dropping capacity. These are cheaper to procure as opposed to something we would need against a modern army like that of India, and already exist in much of our inventory.

I would also like to add that the next campaign we might need to fight is either an entry and clearing up of North Waziristan, or another clearing up South Waziristan.

We do not need big ticket military items for either operations.

And by the way, these are defence forces. They have failed to defend us against the depredations of Qari Hussain Ahmed. Why is Qari Hussain Ahmed alive and not dead?

Scaling back some development plans of the future might be a partially realistic idea. But on the defence side, I would have to disagree.

Emad said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Emad said...

TLW, I think you misunderstood me. Undoubtedly, defence spending should be cut and of course there are areas within the defence budget that can be cut.

However, the constraint I am pointing out is political. In policy speak, there is: (a) no political will, (b) an elite Establishment that is almost immune to public sentiment, and (c) public sentiment against public spending is just not strong enough itself. The Army is again being seen as the saviour and the public would rather see death taxes, flood taxes on profit-making businesses and the strictest of cuts in politicians' expenditure. And let's be honest: any talk of defence spending cuts will almost always be beaten down by the Army drumming up nationalist sentiment and building up the Indian threat.

So again, I share the sentiment; massive and burgeoning defence spending is a disservice to the people of the country and a barrier to effective policy reform. But the sticking point is that cutting it is not politically realistic in the current setup.

It was for the short- and mid-term that I brought up the Business Recorder recommendations, which are realistic and implementable in the backdrop of the flood relief effort.