On testing missiles

Published: June 6, 2012

This handout photograph released by Pakistan's Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) office, shows a nuclear capable Hatf III, (Ghaznavi) short range ballistic missile launched from an undisclosed location in Pakistan on May 10, 2012. PHOTO: AFP

The balancing act governments have to carry out between national security needs and caring for the welfare of the people is termed as a choice between spending on guns and butter. In Pakistan, the scales are weighted so heavily in favour of guns that our need for butter barely registers in the national debate. In this year’s budget, Rs545 billion were allocated for defence (and much more than that if military pension are counted), a number that dwarfs the amount spent on social services. Just a few days later, we got a demonstration of what this money is being spent on as Pakistan tested its fifth nuclear-capable missile in a month and a half. This latest test was of the Hatf-VII cruise missile, which can deliver a one-ton nuclear warhead and whose testing is being framed as a response to India’s launching of the Agni-V missile.

The problem for Pakistan is that India, which also allocates an inordinate amount of money to defence in its budget, can afford such shows of strength. We are going through an extraordinary economic crisis, one that should lead to some introspection and a temporary moratorium on the military showing off its shiny new toys. India is already well aware that we possess nearly 100 nuclear weapons which can penetrate deep into Indian territory, should we so desire. With this nuclear deterrent in place, we can afford to cut down our addiction to weaponry and spend more of our resources on trying to fix the power crisis and spend greater amounts on health and education.

It is also not immediately apparent why we need to test so many missiles at a time when relations with India are on the mend. Instead we should be taking advantage of a peace dividend and spending less money on military weapons. The military has become so used to its perks and privileges that it is unable to see that the government needs to prioritise the economic recovery right now. With nearly another trillion rupees going into debt servicing, the military needs to free some money up for our other, more pressing needs. Of course, the elected government, notwithstanding the reality of the power matrix in Pakistan, needs to be more assertive in allocating a bigger chunk to social development spending.

Published In The Express Tribune, June 7th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (35)

  • Jun 6, 2012 - 9:42PM

    This editorial has two main grounds that I would humbly contest.
    1) Why the missile tests when relations with India are “mending”?
    Well the fate of this supposed mending of relations and the “Aman ka Tamasha” with India is quite evident from the Indian refusal to agree to joint withdrawal from the perpetually useless Siachen War Zone.
    2) Reducing defence budget will make more money available for development etc.
    Are you ET folks really that naive? It could have been true for any other country but…; Co. A 100 billion reduced from defence budget won’t mean a 100 billion extra for development. Rather it will be a 100 billion more for the corrupt ruling Mafia to eat. The 8500 Billion corruption over the past 4 years is enough proof of the “Eating Capacity” of the perpetrators of “Democracy’s Revenge” (upon the people).Recommend

  • Raheem
    Jun 6, 2012 - 10:24PM

    Whats wrong with testing or perfecting a techonolgy? One can argue that peace dividend is also an opportunity to develop defense capability. Given the uncertain nature of India Pakistan relations and tensions with US, testing missiles is not pointless.

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  • Defiant
    Jun 6, 2012 - 11:02PM

    Since when and who said the ties are becoming better, why should we becoming so gullible as to believe in these sugar coated hand shakes, that tomorrow india will maintain peace with Pakistan, when already it is acting in Balochistan and committing large no of terrorist activities under the cover of taliban in Pakistan and we have more enemies now, then we had friends before this war on terror.Recommend

  • MIGFlats
    Jun 7, 2012 - 12:11AM

    The missile in the photo seems to be named after the Afghan warrior Ghaznavi. Pakistani missiles being named after Afghan conquerors?!! And Pakistan wants strategic depth in Afghanistan. Who is controlling whom? To whom does this missile actually belong – Pakistan or Afghanistan? Pretty confusing to an outsider.

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  • narayana murthy
    Jun 7, 2012 - 12:16AM

    I agree with the commentators here.

    Pakistan should keep spending on defense until it bleeds itself to death.

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  • Basit
    Jun 7, 2012 - 12:32AM

    This is part of the ongoing campaign by ET to deprioritize and devalue Pakistan’s legitimate security needs and weapons development to the point where any action taking for Pakistan’s security that does not mean foreign acceptance is automatically and without logic shown as taking money away from education, health or poverty.

    However, the same thought is not given to the ongoing fruitless wars and deployments in the tribal areas which consume a large portion of budget by keep the army deployed. The reason should be obvious to the readers for the motivation behind such editorials.

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  • Timour
    Jun 7, 2012 - 2:03AM

    I guess people commenting above have missed the fact that we have 100 nuclear bombs which EVERYONE and their mother know about. I think that should be sufficient deterrence….we should probably just keep the strategic services division of the army and disband the rest of the armed forces….army and navy and air force, since none of them are doing anything useful anyway except building housing colonies and golf courses….and plotting to kill civilians in their free time.

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  • Arindom
    Jun 7, 2012 - 2:09AM

    Each missile test probably costs Rs500 million to Rs1000 million (my guess).
    There are hundreds of suppliers involved – material, electronics, fuel, wiring, controls, steel, composites & other exotic materials, R&D, miscellaneous administrative expenses, vehicles, buildings, etc etc. I am 100% sure the hundreds of companies supplying these are all owned by Generals and their cronies. Missiles tests are a good “patriotic ” way to keep the moolah flowing into their pockets!!!

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  • Rahul
    Jun 7, 2012 - 2:34AM

    @narayana murthy Well said bro … Looks like some people (or a Country) never wants to learn from their mistake …Good luck …

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  • afzal
    Jun 7, 2012 - 4:11AM

    ET is working on agenda or they are just dumb

    whenever u introduce new system you have to check its by testing the missile and all of it is done with in the approved budget. new and improved missile and modern technology will reduce expenditure in long term money should be spend on other pressing needs but its govt job to do it if this govt can be given whole budget 545 billion I can assure ET the electricity and other problem will remain the same first Govt should build its credibility by setting example then it can ask army to surrender budget.

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  • Dark Knight
    Jun 7, 2012 - 5:05AM

    @Tribal Insafian: Agree with your point #2, about #1 you have to take into account that when India was relaxed on it’s western border, Pakistan pushed militants and military to occupy Kargil. There are more case of infiltration from Pakistan to India while there is no no need or desire or support to any Indian wanting to “cross over” to Pakistan. This gives India a benefit of suspicion that should they back off from Siachen, Pakistan, whose pride is so badly tethered in current times would not think twice about capturing back Siachen just to boost morale of it’s civilians. For Pakistani there is no higher morale boost then seeing India loose in any front. This is indeed a fact. Plus any smart strategist will tell you that not just pakistan will attempt to occupy Siachen it will share the terrirtory with China for
    1. Get their support and flex muscle against India
    2. Share the cost and logistics of the world’s most treacherous battlefield.
    So my dear friend, India’s zero enthusiasm in Siachen is thankfully to your overzealous and childish army.

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  • Murali
    Jun 7, 2012 - 5:31AM

    A meaningful article I ever read in pakistan press. Good to see that at least some people are brave enough to question.

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  • Blue Devil
    Jun 7, 2012 - 5:49AM

    Lol @ Basit. I can see the military indoctrination has done its job very well ! Jingoism, ruling through fear and other such methods cannot last for long. My message to all the duffer faujis and fauj is – carry on with all these fear inducing BS, because this is going to prove to be your suicide note.

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  • Freeman
    Jun 7, 2012 - 7:20AM

    @narayana murthy:
    @Rahul:

    You both are indian and you both need to talk about indian missiles where India is spending so many billion dollars every year and keep increasing defence budget. On the other hand 45% Indian childrens are still under neutrition do not have food for them. So many millions Indians are still earning $1.25 dollar per day and living under poverty levels. All these figures are form the Indian own source and govt. record.

    You both need to campaign aginst Indian defence budget over spendings. Please leave on us about the Pakistan. We know what to do about our affairs.

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  • ahmad
    Jun 7, 2012 - 8:37AM

    @Tribal Insafian
    Nice try soldier. Out of your defence budget of 545 billion (which actually is 1.1 trillian
    http://tribune.com.pk/story/389481/military-purse-may-be-twice-as-large-as-budgeted/ )
    how much goes to DHA,Fauji Foundation, Bakeries,Shadi Halls. With conventional capabilities zero,spares for military hardware and jets zero where do you stand. Military corruption is on par with political if not higher…..

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  • observer
    Jun 7, 2012 - 9:04AM

    In the recent past Pakistan has faced more security cahllenges from within, e.g. HQ Attack, PNS Mehran,Bannu etc., than from outside.
    Will the Hatfs, Baburs and Ghaznis protect Pakistan against a Bannu II?
    Or are they going to need protection from a repeat of PNS Mehran?

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  • Hadi Khan
    Jun 7, 2012 - 9:54AM

    Bold of ET to pick up this almost taboo subject. I wish this engenders a debate among the politiicians. Let the National Defence Academy make a study of the downfall of Soviet Empire a part of their study – how Soviet Union went down trying to match US military spending.

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  • Yuri Kondratyuk
    Jun 7, 2012 - 10:06AM

    The problem for Pakistan is that
    India, which also allocates an
    inordinate amount of money to defence
    in its budget

    The argument doesn’t make sense unless the term inordinate is defined. But, in terms of percentage of GDP, India spends less than Pak.

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  • Nasir
    Jun 7, 2012 - 10:40AM

    @All Indians:
    Don’t worry about Pakistan’s defense budget. Think about your own poverty by reducing own defense budget.

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  • Rana mohsin
    Jun 7, 2012 - 11:12AM

    it is said “you pray for peace and you prepare for war ” because you can have peace only when you are prepared for war balance of power help to maintain peace but if you are depending on prayers for peace then prayers only hardly work so conducting missile test is necessary to maintain peace between india and pakistan.as far as economic situation of pakistan is concerned as long as we don’t have an honest leadership we can’t have good economy. our pressing need at the moment is power shortage how can we have good economy with out our factories running so it should be advised to government that generate some power. we have lot of our problem solved if we have enough power to run our factories.

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  • Jpy
    Jun 7, 2012 - 11:45AM

    @narayana murthy:
    I also fully agree with you. It is the easiest way of a sudden death

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  • Usman
    Jun 7, 2012 - 12:26PM

    @Hadi Khan:
    Taboo subject? The Pakistan Armed Forces are regularly demonised and bashed in English newspapers every day. On the other hand, any talk about legitimate defense needs? Now that is the real taboo here.

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  • Sameer Mehta
    Jun 7, 2012 - 2:42PM

    One thing I don’t understand is why Pakistan has to fear India when India has never attacked any country ever. Take an example of Bangladesh. It is a muslim country, it has boundary, River and many other disputes with India and it is very weak even in comparison to Pakistan..But India has never attacked or even threatened it. It clearly shows India have no expansionist ambitions. So why Pakistan is obsessed with India.

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  • Sameer Mehta
    Jun 7, 2012 - 2:52PM

    India has no expansionist design. History speaks. Just take an example of Bangladesh. It is a muslim country. It has many disputes with India including boarder and River water sharing dispute. It is very weak military wise even in comparison to Pakistan but India has never attacked it or even threatened it. India is surrounded by many small countries but it has never tried to attack or capture any land. India and Pakistan can easily have good relations with each other and Pakistan has nothing to fear from India if it honestly desires peace.

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  • harkol
    Jun 7, 2012 - 3:02PM

    Sir, India too is going through an economic crisis and a reduction in any govt. expenditure would be welcome. However, Indian defense expenditure is not in-ordinate. As a ratio of GDP, it spends lesser on defense than China or Pakistan.

    In India, the Army cribs about not getting sufficient allocation. In Pakistan, Army eats what ever it wants, then leaves the crumbs to civilian govt. to spend!! That is the difference.

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  • Jun 7, 2012 - 3:37PM

    Heard a military analyst saying India’s Defense Budget is bigger than Pakistan’s total outlay for 2012-13

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  • Ordinary Villager
    Jun 7, 2012 - 3:42PM

    @MIGFlats: A small reminder that Ghaznavids were slaves of Turks. Just search for Muslim dynasty of Turkic slave-soldiers and the name Ghaznavi will prop up. So Ghaznavids were not Afghans but they were slaves of Turks and not the kings and Afghans took the name Ghaznavi after that to reflect their slavery. Just search for the word Ghaznavids and everything will be evident to you.

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  • wazirabadi
    Jun 7, 2012 - 3:58PM

    @Sameer Mehta:
    Well.. India is a true example of “baghal mein churi munh mein raam raam” and has never accepted or liked Pakistan. It has been making conspiracies to destabilize or break it ever since its creation. You say India has never attached but you should be knowing it has always been trying to weaken Pakistan by all means indirectly. No doubt both countries are trying to be at peace with each other and we welcome it but we also believe in the saying that if you want peace you should be ready for war and that the need of time.

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  • Hindu Indian
    Jun 7, 2012 - 3:59PM

    @Sameer Mehta: Its waste of time, they will never listen, we never stop telling.

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  • Mehr Tarar
    Jun 7, 2012 - 4:44PM

    Chillingly true. And still no chance of it happening at least in our lifetime.

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  • mr. righty rightist
    Jun 7, 2012 - 7:23PM

    @Wazirabadi

    “has never accepted or liked Pakistan.”

    False. There are Pakistani embassies in India. Which is official acceptance of Pakistan.

    “It has been making conspiracies to destabilize or break it ever since its creation.”

    NO. Pakistan is destabilizing itself.

    “You say India has never attached but you should be knowing it has always been trying to weaken Pakistan by all means indirectly.”

    This is what conspiracy theorists say, when they have not an iota of proof.

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  • Basit
    Jun 7, 2012 - 8:53PM

    @Blue Devil:
    Jingoism and ruling through fear? Are you by chance talking about the PPP and liberal single focused obsession with taliban?

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  • Faesal
    Jun 8, 2012 - 4:03PM

    @narayana murthy:
    Haha! You indians are more concerned about Pakistan’s defence expenditures then your own. Do you ever bother to investigate whats going around in india?

    800 million lives below international poverty standards. Don’t have access to toilets. 75% lives under $2 a month (UN). Half of country under Maoist control. Mass malnutrition, immigration at rapid rate. Yet you guys are completely ignorant about it. Set your house in order first before telling others what to do.
    Annual indian defence budget is about $40.4 billion (2012)

    While Pakistan’s is mere $4.6 billion (2012). The Sheer strength of army personnel, projects (missilies, strategic), Expenditures on on-going war. This money is peanuts.

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  • Sameer Mehta
    Jun 9, 2012 - 1:45PM

    @wazirabadi, Sir, I don’t know about chhuri and Ram, thats your opinion. We all know Pakistan is reality and India has accepted that reality way back in 1947, there is no other option. For disliking Pakistan the reason is very obvious, No one likes a country which is training, supporting, encouraging and sending blood thirsty terrorists to kill innocent people including kids to its soil. Stop doing that we may like you. I had already said History speaks. India has never attacked any country ever, however weak or small.

    I agree to your point that if you want peace you should be ready for war. True. But aren’t you already ready? You have stockpile of nukes which can destroy India many times over. Your threat comes from India and you are ready for it. India’s fear is china which has attacked India in past and it is preparing itself accordingly. Trying to match India missile by missile is futile and self destroying act economically for Pakistan.

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  • Sameer Mehta
    Jun 9, 2012 - 2:07PM

    @Faesal bhai, In India we have total of 233 news and current affairs TV channels and numerous newspapers in addition to many news websites, so we cannot be ignorant about what’s going on in India and world even if we want to. Competition is so high in among media that on one can dare to feed false news or propaganda to Indian people. If one channel or newspaper tries to do so it’s competitors will try everything to make it look like a fool. This is benefit of competition and power of economy.

    You have sited defense expenditure figures but get your method right. Have you tried to calculate it in percentage of GDP? Both countries scale of economy is vastly different. Percentage wise India is spending much less on defense in comparison to Pakistan.

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