June 28, 2010

Defence Budget: On Fire!

According to a news report appearing in The News on June 12, Pakistan’s actual defence budget alone outweighs its entire development budget. According to the author of this report, the infamous Mr. Ansar Abbasi , the Principal Economic Adviser to the Finance Ministry Saqib Sheerani has said that the total defence budget is almost 675 billion PKR which is a huge upward revision from the official budgetary stats which show that government has earmarked 443 billion PKR for defence. But I’m not here to get into the technicalities of the defence versus development debate; I am here to discuss what this spells out for the masses.

For as long as Pakistan has existed, the common people of his country have always been at the receiving end of nothing. They have always been sacrificed like lambs and no one has come to their rescue. They have been without a shepherd for so long now that they start bleating after anyone who waves at them from 10 miles away. So this shocker is nothing new to them; in fact, I doubt if this is a shock to them at all. You see, they have been so numbed by these constant shocks of varying magnitudes that they are simply beyond caring now. They know that the government will never come to their aid; they know that they are a directionless herd and consequently they know that they have to survive through each day dependent on their instincts. This has isolated them from themselves and from Pakistan and from each other. This has led to social and societal change throughout the width and breadth of Pakistan.

Isn’t it shameful that a country which is shrouded in abject poverty still finds it in it to increase the defence spending so massively? Isn’t it ironic that while the people who are sucked dry to pay for the military’s extravagance go to sleep hungry at night, while the fat generals who do nothing except play golf in leisure time, sit in their air conditioned offices and decide which bullet-proof cars should they order next? Isn’t it shameful that a country in which the condition for a literate person is to be able to sign his or her name should slash education spending simply because the administrative costs are so high? What kind of a government is this? More importantly, what is the purpose of such a government?

For decades now we’ve seen those same faces rule over us. We’ve seen them grow old in front of us. We’ve seen their kids ready to take over from them. And yet we being the poor lambs have followed whoever came in our way. We have been hijacked by our own military and we have been forced to accept their agenda. We have let them dictate to us who our enemy is and who our enemy isn’t. We have trusted them with our lives because we had no other option. But it has gone on for too long. We have asked for reform and all we have gotten in return is sweetened bullshit. The poor people still pay the bulk of the taxes because the rich find it beneath their dignity to care for the country that made them rich in the first place. We dare not put up farm taxes because that would mean an end to the party culture which is so famously associated with farm houses. We cannot mine our own coal because the petroleum lobby would lose its job if the coal came onto the market for power generation. We are ruled by indecisive selfish turds who would make a run for it at the slightest hint of trouble.

Such are our woes; ruled by incompetent zealots who have sworn allegiance to their political party’s flags rather than Pakistan’s flag. Such is the might of the army that it can get away with such a huge amount of money all for itself without ever caring about anyone else. I guess that’s why they invented the term “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.”

  • To view The News report regarding increase in defence budget, click here.
  • To view the Pakistan Budget details 2010-11 available through the Ministry of Finance, click here.