The PPP Government audits the defence budget; Nawaz Sharif proposes reconciliation with India

Defence budget details provided to parliament
Monday, 24 Aug, 2009
Such comprehensive details about the budgets of the army, air force and navy have been provided for the first time to the parliament, said informed sources. – File photo

ISLAMABAD: Defence ministry has provided to parliament and defence committees details about operational expenses, travel and transportation expenses, assets, defence stocks and civil works expenses separately in respect of army, air force and navy.

Sources told Online Monday such comprehensive and elaborate details have been provided for the first time to the parliament and parliamentary committees.

As per details, Rs148 billion out of total defence budget allocations of Rs342 billion would go to Pakistan army. Over Rs82 billion would be spent on the salaries and other expenses of the army. More than Rs25 billion have been kept aside for operational expenses. They will include over Rs4 billion for travel and transportation, over Rs20 billion for general expenses.

Report revealed physical assets of armed forces stand at over Rs26 billion. Army would spend over Rs14 billion on civil works.

A sum of over Rs80 billion has been earmarked for air force in the defence budget. Over Rs12.33 billion will be spent on the salaries and other expenses of air force personnel and Rs16.75 billion on operational preparedness.

Physical assets of air force are stated to be over Rs47 billion while over Rs4.62 billion have been set aside for civil works.

Rs38.1 billion have been allocated for navy out of overall defence budget. A sum of Rs8.15 billion has been earmarked for the salaries and other allowances in respect of the officials of Navy. Rs4.57 billion will be spent on renovation of flats and other operational matters. The total assets of Navy are stated to be Rs22.20 billion. Physical assets have also been shown to be part of budget. Army has to recover a sum of Rs500 million from other government departments under supplies and services heads.—Online (Dawn)

Nawaz Sharif’s India strategy is right

The PMLN leader, Mr Nawaz Sharif, in his interview to an Indian newspaper, has reiterated his party’s determination to pursue a relationship of peace and cooperation with India. This was the policy he was following in 1999 when he was deposed by the military. He did not forget it and reaffirmed it in the 2006 Charter of Democracy together with the PPP.

The content of his interview will strengthen the hands of the Gilani government and provide Pakistan with an alternative strategy to face up to the threat of the Taliban. He said: “The political consensus within Pakistan is for a joint fight against terrorism and for rebuilding of relations derailed by the Mumbai terror attack”. More significantly, he stated: “I know India is hurt, I admit that. Pakistan has a duty to do and it should do that duty as quickly as possible to get the peace process going by establishing the back-channel once again”.

Mr Sharif’s policy vis-à-vis India is to have “all parties, including the BJP, on board in India, while cooperating fully with the ruling Pakistan People’s Party in its peace efforts with New Delhi”. He was appreciative of the spirit of cooperation shown by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at Sharm el-Sheikh and thought the meeting a “positive step”. Full marks again to Mr Sharif for comparing the recent book on Jinnah by ex-foreign minister Mr Jaswant Singh to the ex-prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee’s visit to the Minar-e-Pakistan in Lahore in 1999.

There is no denying the fundamental calculation in Mr Sharif’s policy of normalisation of relations with India. That calculation is of reducing the domination of the Pakistan Army in the determination of Pakistan foreign policy and economic direction through the device of dismantling the ideological projection of India as Pakistan’s enemy number one.

No elected government in Pakistan is safe as long as strategies are formed, not on the basis of the country’s economic interests, but on how it is going to fight the next war against India. Mr Sharif gave Pakistan its nuclear weapon, not to drop it on India, but to move confidently forward to normalise relations with it, as he demonstrated in 1999.

That is the right way forward. * (Daily Times)



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