Asghar Khan slams hefty defence budget


Air Marshal (r) Asghar Khan on Friday demanded the government cut the defence budget and revisit the country’s foreign policy, especially its ties with India.

Addressing a press conference, Khan said the government had no moral justification to allocate more than Rs 700 billion for defence when the people were dying of hunger. Lamenting the fact that the present and past governments had made little attempt to redirect non-productive military expenditure towards people’s welfare, he said, “An economy teetering on the brink of collapse simply cannot afford to spend Rs 700 billion on defence as has been announced in this years’ budget.”

The former air marshal said, “Since the creation of Pakistan, there has been an impression created and sustained by the state – through educational curriculum and the media – that Pakistan faced an existential threat from India.” Khan said that the so-called ideology of national security had mandate that disproportionate public resources were given to the armed forces, which had undermined the democratic process whilst leaving very limited resources to provide employment, health, education and other basic amenities to the country’s long suffering people.

He said all of the three major wars with India, as well as the Kargil conflict of 1999, were initiated by Pakistan. Khan reiterated that until a complete overhaul of Pakistan’s self perception and its relations with its neighbours was undertaken, it would be virtually impossible for it to steer clear of the present crises. “A stable Pakistan is in the interest of India and other regional powers, therefore, a foreign policy based on suspicion and exaggerated threat perception can no longer be justified,” he added.