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Pakistan raises defence spending by 3.78%

Pakistan has long given up hope of matching India weapon-for-weapon and has based its defence on deterrence.

india Updated: Jun 06, 2006 10:02 IST

Pakistan announced a 3.78 per cent increase in defence spending on Monday; a modest rise analysts said reflected the easing of tension with India and a shift in the security focus to battling terrorists.

The increase for the financial year beginning on July 1 was announced in a budget speech by Minister of State for Finance Omar Ayub Khan.

The defence budget will be Rs 250.18 billion compared with a revised Rs 241.06 billion for the fiscal year ending on June 30.

"Pakistan's impregnable defence is our number one priority," Khan told parliament.

"I don't think any direct threat is developing from India right now," said defence analyst Kamal Matinuddin, a former general.

"Unlike in the past, there's no war of words, no movement of troops and no military exercises near borders," he said.

In February, India raised its defence spending by 7 per cent for the next fiscal year, aiming to finance ambitious plans to modernise its 1.3 million-strong military, the fourth largest in the world.

New Weapons

Pakistan has long given up hope of matching India weapon-for-weapon and has based its defence on deterrence.

Pakistani defence analysts said the increase announced on Monday was modest and understandable in the light of a surge in fighting against al Qaeda-linked militants in lawless tribal regions on Pakistan's western border with Afghanistan.

"For now, we have to concentrate more on the western border than the eastern side," Matinuddin said.

Security analyst Talat Masood, another former general, described the increase in defence spending as 'nominal' but said the government might allocate more funds later for new weapons.

Pakistan is one of Washington's main allies in its war on terrorism and the US administration said last week it was planning to let Pakistan buy Boeing Harpoon anti-ship missiles and related equipment valued at up to $370 million.

The cabinet last month approved plans for the purchase of a $1 billion airborne early warning surveillance system from Swedish firms Saab and Ericsson.

In April, the government gave the air force clearance to open negotiations to buy 36 Jian-10 fighter aircraft from China and 62 F-16 jets from the United States.

First Published: Jun 06, 2006 09:08 IST

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