Kayani says Pak austerity measures must be `balanced`
Islamabad: Days before the new PML-N government assumes office, army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani on Friday said Pakistan, facing an economic crisis, would have to strike the "right balance" between development and defence in order to make sustainable progress.
"For meaningful and sustainable progress, a nation has to strike the right balance between the requirements of development and defence," Kayani said while addressing a gathering at the army`s Command and Staff College in Quetta.
No army "operates in a vacuum" as the armed forces draw on the support of the nation to conduct "tasks in a manner that it contributes to the fulfilment of national polices, interests and aspirations," he was quoted as saying in a military statement.
It is the duty of the armed forces to maintain "adequate capabilities and readiness to fulfil the tasks assigned" to them, he said.
Kayani`s remarks assume significance as Prime Minister-elect Nawaz Sharif has hinted at austerity measures and budget cuts to cope with Pakistan`s economic crisis.
The Finance Ministry has reportedly estimated the defence budget for the next fiscal at Rs 627 billion.
According to a report in the Dawn newspaper, this estimate is 15 per cent more than the Rs 545 billion allocated for defence in the current financial year.
Besides, the allocation for civil armed forces has been estimated at Rs 33 billion, Rs 4 billion more than the current year`s outlay.
This will be in addition to Rs 6.3 billion for the Frontier Constabulary, Rs 1.5 billion for the Coast Guards, Rs 14.5 billion for the Pakistan Rangers and Rs 8.7 billion for the Interior Ministry.
According to media reports, Pakistan`s actual spending on defence during fiscal 2012-13 may be as high as Rs 913 billion, almost double the official allocation of Rs 545 billion.
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