Pakistan maintains defence budget increase as security improves

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Friday announced it will once again increase its annual military budget by 11 percent, even as security improves in the country which has fought militant insurgencies for more than a decade.

Finance minister Ishaq Dar informed parliament in his annual budget address that the country would provide 860 billion rupees ($8.6 billion) to the armed forces during the 2016-17 financial year.

“The defence budget has been increased to 860 billion rupees which is 11 per cent more than the last year,” Dar told parliament.

Pakistan also increased its defence budget by 11 percent in 2015-16.

The country has been fighting a homegrown insurgency for over a decade, with heavy deployments of troops in the border area near Afghanistan where militants have previously operated with impunity.

The government will also maintain a 100 billion rupee ($1 billion) grant for the rehabilitation of thousands of families who have been forced from their homes by the insurgency and military operations to uproot the militants from the country’s northwest.

Pakistan estimates it has lost more than 50,000 people and billions of dollars in revenue due to the ongoing war against extremism, while thousands of its families have been rendered homeless. AFP