Islamabad: In an unprecedented voluntary move, Pakistan's military has decided to cut its defence budget for the next fiscal year amid an austerity drive launched by the government to help solve the cash-strapped nation's economic problems.
Major General Asif Ghafoor, Director General of Pakistan's Inter Services Public Relations or ISPR -- the media wing of Pakistan's military, in his twitter message on Tuesday said that voluntary cuts in the defence budget for next fiscal year would not be at the cost of defence and security.
"Voluntary cut in defence budget for a year will not be at the cost of defence & security. We shall maintain effective response potential to all threats. Three services will manage impact of the cut through appropriate internal measures," Maj Gen Ghafoor said.
Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Tuesday that he was very appreciative of the Pakistani military's "unprecedented voluntary initiative of stringent cuts in their defence expenditures" especially in light of the country's poor financial situation.
Imran Khan said he was grateful for the move that came "despite multiple security challenges" that Pakistan faces.
Pakistan's Science and Technology Minister Fawad Chaudhry said this was "not a small step at all. Only a strong civilian-military coordination can rescue Pakistan from the deep problems of governance and economy," he said.
On May 28, Pakistan Prime Minister's Special Assistant on Information, Firdous Ashiq Awan, had announced that the country's federal budget will be presented on June 11.
Last month, the government announced that all civil and military institutions would contribute to the austerity-oriented federal budget for 2019-20.
"There will be austerity in the coming budget. We will try to keep government expenditures to the minimum possible level," Imran Khan's adviser on Finance and Economic Affairs Hafeez Shaikh had said.
Pakistan in 2018 was the 20th biggest military spender in the world with an expenditure of USD 11.4 billion, a report published by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri) said in April.
The military spending of 2018 made up for four per cent of Pakistan's gross domestic product (GDP) which is the highest level since 2004, according to the report by the Sweden-based institute.
The top military spender in the world is the United States, which spent USD 649 billion on its forces last year. The US military spending, however, has decreased by 17 per cent over the past decade, the report said.