The Pakistan government has set the fiscal 2018-19 defence budget at Rs1.1 trillion (US$9.5 Bn) from a revised budget estimate of Rs999bn in the previous year, 19.5pc of the total budgeted outlay, for the current fiscal year.
The increase in the defence budget for 2018-19 is the highest since the PML-N government took over in 2013.
The hike comes at a time when the United States has suspended its military assistance to Pakistan amounting to $2 billion.
Pakistan has reduced its defence capital expenditure following a shift from Western sources of arms to China. In fact, Islamabad has become Beijing’s top arms importer during the last five years. According to a recent Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) report, Pakistan has spent less on weapons acquisition since 2013 while increasing big-ticket weapons buys, thanks to lower-priced military hardware from China.
Islamabad has ordered submarines from China last year and is involved in a venture to upgrade its JF-17 Thunder fighter jet to match with the latest iteration of the US-made F-16 jet, an aircraft whose sale to Pakistan was blocked by Washington on grounds that Islamabad supports terrorism.
Pakistan is looking to become an arms exporter and has met with some success with its Super Mushak basic trainer aircraft and exports of the JF-17 to Myanmar and Nigeria.