Is US funding corruption in Pakistan Army?

corruption

A high level defence delegation led by Lt. Gen (Retd) Muhammad Alam Khattak has headed to Washington to attend the 24th Meeting of Pakistan-US Defence Consultative Group. The Pakistani delegation has a clear brief: Ask for more money.

Pakistan side will stress for a way forward on issues related to Coalition Support Fund, its reimbursement continuation and enhancement. It remains high on agenda that Pakistan requires security equipment for capacity building and counter-terrorism operations.

Pakistan is in the front line on the war against terrorists. We have sacrificed more than any other nation and operation Zarb-e-Azb has also done more to break the backbone of terrorists than any other operation. None of this is denied. Still there need to be some questions asked about where all the billions are going. In the case of the military budget, the question does not always have a pleasing answer.

Auditor General of Pakistan has found over Rs5 BILLION in funds embezzled from defense budget in one year alone. Earlier this year Defence Ministry admitted that 81 officials were  found guilty of embezzeling Rs1.53 billion from accounts of the Military Engineering Services (MES). Almost none of these funds could be recovered.

These are only two incidents that have been reported. Other reports suggest the problem may be much larger such as how former Chief of Army Staff and military dictator Gen Mushasrraf became a billionaire? Who knows how much has been stolen from defence funds?

Being the richest country in the world, America may not think much about billions going missing, but without proper accounting and accountability for these funds they could be funding the corruption that is destroying the nation’s economy.

Now, about those billions…

Pakistan Rupees

As is so often the case in politics, the lead up to Senate elections has proved to be much more controversial than the actual elections. Accusations of rigging and horse trading abounded, and even PTI has gotten a taste of what it means to be in the hot seat. At the end of the day, however, the high-pitched wailing about ‘billions’ at play were best summed up in less than 140 characters by Cyril Almeida:

And so, as always, the world continues to turn and politicians prepare for the next battle. Now that we have put this chapter behind us, let us return to a question that remains unanswered…where did all those billions go?

No, not those billions…

Those:

Rs5.5 billion foul play in defence funds

The Auditor General of Pakistan has unearthed financial foul play of billions of rupees in spending of funds in Pakistan’s defence sector. The audit report on the accounts of defence services for the fiscal year 2011-12 finds that Pakistan’s defence organisations misused funds or violated prescribed rules during spending of funds exceeding 5490.961 million rupees.

And those:

Defence ministry fails to recover Rs1.5bn from its 81 officials

A defence ministry representative informed the meeting that the 81 military and civilian officials were investigated and found guilty of having embezzled Rs1.53 billion from the accounts of the Military Engineering Services (MES). This sum was siphoned off thanks to fake purchases, fictitious spending and fraudulent payments.

I look forward to reading Farrukh Saleem‘s detailed report…

There is no military solution to Kashmir

locAs firing once again increases along the Line of Control, let us remember the one indisputable fact of the matter: There is no military solution. This is a fact for Pakistan and India, both, and the sooner the two nuclear powers acknowledge this fact, the sooner a real and sustainable solution can be put into place and the Kashmiri people can finally enjoy the peace and justice that they have sought since long.

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The Wrong Defence Budget

Defence Budget of Pakistan

Defence expenditure has almost doubled since last five years. In its latest budget, government has hiked defence spending up to Rs700.2 billion. Even this number does not tell the entire tale, however, as military pensions which have risen to over Rs100 billion are being paid from civilian budget, not defence. This high level of spending is often justified with claims about how Pakistan’s defence spending is the lowest in the region, despite serious national security concerns. But these justifications leave out a critical question which is whether it is even possible for Pakistan to spend its way to security.

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Pakistan Must Respond To The Modern Threat

Aftermath of IED in BalochistanArmy Strategic Force Command successfully conducted a training launch of Short Range Ballistic Missile Hatf III (Ghaznavi) on Thursday. This successful test adds another powerful weapon to our national arsenal and demonstrates that our scientists and engineers have the expertise to produce the most advanced weapons. In continuing to produce ballistic missiles, however, we are producing the wrong weapons for the wrong war.

Nuclear weapons have long been considered a military deterrent because actually using them would by M.A.D. – Mutually Assured Destruction. In other words, in a nuclear conflict both sides lose and nobody wins. This has prevented a nuclear war between great powers such as the US and the Soviet Union during the Cold War, and Pakistan and India also.

Today, ballistic missiles are quickly becoming a weapon of the past not only because their use would result in an immediate response from the rest of the world, but because modern interceptor technology makes them obsolete. While Pakistan was successfully testing the Hatf III ballistic missile, the US was successfully testing the SM-3 anti-missile interceptor. Now, even countries with advanced missile technology cannot be certain that their weapons will hit the targets without being stopped by interceptors.

Ballistic missiles are not only becoming obsolete in modern war because of advances in interceptor technology, though. They are also becoming obsolete because they are designed for a type of warfare that is less likely to occur – conventional inter-state warfare. Most conflicts today do not take place in conventional war theaters like World War I and World War II. Fighting today mostly occurs in heavily populated areas between combinations of traditional security forces and irregular fighters.

In modern wars, the weapons too have changed. Today’s wars are fought with small arms. Large conventional bombers have been replaced by small unmanned arial vehicles (UAV) also known as “drones”. A ballistic missile is a deterrent against large scale threats like other ballistic missiles or troop invasions, but is no use in modern war. As such, it too has been replaced by the small improvised explosive device (IED).

The US has responded to this new era of war fighting by shifting its focus away from developing new large scale conventional weapons to the production of targeted small scale weapons like drones and defensive technology that can neutralise the IED threat. According to reports, the US military is spending over $5 billion each year to study IEDs and develop new technologies to neutralise these weapons.

Defence analyst S.M. Hali has noted that IEDs ‘are wreaking double havoc in Pakistan’. He explains that “IEDs attacks alone in Pakistan has taken lives of 2707 soldiers whereas 1188 NATO soldiers became prey of IEDs in Afghanistan from 2006 to 2012”. Just last week, five people including three security officials were killed when two IEDs exploded in Bajaur Agency. One week later, a policeman was killed and three others injured by a remote-controlled IED in Quetta that was planted by terrorists for targeting Pakistan security forces.

Pakistan’s conventional deterrence is modern and effective. That it provides a sufficient deterrent to any unwise ideas of aggression from traditional adversaries has been demonstrated by the restraint showed in the outcome of historical conflicts. Pakistan now needs to shift its focus from the production of outdated weapons systems to address the threats we are facing in today’s conflicts – small arms and the proliferation of IEDs being used by terrorists to target Pakistan security forces. We have successfully neutralised the traditional threat, now it is time to turn our attention to today’s enemy and today’s weapons. It is the security of the nation that is at stake.

The author is a Ravian with expertise in political science and defence studies.