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Pakistan's defence budget rises but inflation nullifies gains

Pakistan's military expenditure continues to face severe inflationary pressure, as data from Janes Defence Budgets shows. (Janes Defence Budgets)

Pakistan Finance Minister Muhammad Ishaq Dar announced in the National Assembly on 9 June that the country's defence budget for 2023–24 will be PKR1.80 trillion (USD6.27 billion).

In his speech, he indicated that the new budget represents a nominal 19.5% increase over the revised allocation for 2022–23, which he said was PKR1.51 trillion.

While this signals a strong rise, gains are offset by severe economic challenges including the falling value of Pakistan's currency and high inflation. Dar said the expected rate of inflation in 2023–24 is 21%.

Full budgetary documents were not available immediately but according to news reports, about PKR705 billion or about 40% of the 2023–24 budget will be allocated for employees-related expenses. Military operating expenses will receive PKR442 billion and physical assets – including some elements of procurement – will receive PKR461 billion.

In terms of the armed forces, the Pakistan Army will receive the majority of the 2023–24 defence budget, as is customary. The army's allocation will reportedly be PKR824.6 billion or about 46% of the expenditure. The Pakistan Air Force and Pakistan Navy will receive PKR368.6 billion and PKR188.2 billion, respectively.

Despite recent economic challenges in Pakistan, the military has continued to modernise mainly through support provided by China, Islamabad's biggest defence supplier. Since January Chinese imports have included two Tughril (Type 054A/P)-class frigates, SH-15 155 mm/52 calibre wheeled self-propelled howitzers, and CH-4 medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) unmanned aerial vehicles.

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