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Pakistan Military’s Extravagance Fuels Spiraling Public Debt Crisis

The Pakistan military’s unchecked spending on defense acquisitions and bilateral engagements has emerged as a primary driver of the country’s soaring public debt, reaching an unprecedented Rs 67.5 trillion. This alarming figure paints a grim future for millions of Pakistanis.

Government data from the Finance Ministry and State Bank of Pakistan unveil a harsh reality, overshadowed by the military’s unchecked spree of purchases and collaboration ventures with nations like Turkey, China, and others in recent years. Concurrently, military leaders’ bilateral visits have surged amid the country’s financial distress.

Financial obligations include interest payments amounting to Rs 4.22 trillion, marking a staggering 64% increase. Total debt payments are expected to exceed Rs 8 trillion, surpassing the budgeted estimate of Rs 7.3 trillion. Debt obligations consume over 81% of federal tax revenues, leaving a substantial deficit that threatens economic collapse.

As the army, navy, and air force accumulate foreign debts through ambitious procurement and production deals with various countries, Pakistan faces near bankruptcy, with public debt nearly three-quarters of the nation’s economic output. While the army collaborates with Chinese firms for main battle tank production, the navy engages Turkish and Chinese firms for patrol boats and submarines. The Air Force invests heavily in armed drones and munitions.

Despite economic challenges, military expenditures surpassed $8.521 billion last year and are expected to rise further this year, exacerbating financial strain. According to a 2021 report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, Pakistan’s military burden exceeds that of the United States and the global average.

Increased military spending exacerbates public debt, as evidenced by research findings. A 2023 study published in the Journal of Contemporary Macroeconomic Issues revealed a direct correlation between defense spending and external debt. Furthermore, the allocation of significant funds to debt servicing and defense, compared to minimal investment in development, underscores the military’s role in exacerbating the economic crisis.

A 2022 World Economic Forum report attributed Pakistan’s debt crisis to the lavish spending habits of the ruling elite, including the military. It highlights how political leaders, military officials, and business magnates have driven the country into a cycle of borrowing to sustain operations and service existing debts.

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