How is Pakistan buying fighter jets, submarines despite the economic crisis? – The Times of India

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Despite facing a dire economic situation with a foreign debt totaling $124.5 billion, equivalent to 42% of its GDP, Pakistan is persistently expanding its military capabilities, notably through substantial arms imports and collaborations with China. A report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) indicates that between 2019 and 2023, China accounted for 82% of Pakistan’s arms imports, reflecting a deepening military relationship between the two nations.
“China is strongly contributing to the strengthening of Pakistan’s military by providing fighter jets, warships, missile technology, drones, etc.This is part of China’s strategy to counter the influence and power of Quad-4 (that includes India) and the West’s other regional alliances,” an opinion piece in the EurAsian Times said.
During President Xi Jinping’s 2015 visit to Pakistan, a significant agreement was forged for China to construct eight Hangor-class submarines for Pakistan, enhancing its naval power. “The submarines will play a pivotal role in maintaining peace and stability in the region. It would add a new dimension to the ever-tested Pakistan-China friendship,” said Admiral Naveed Ashraf, Pakistani Chief of Naval Staff. This deal is part of China’s broader strategy to counterbalance the influence of the Quad alliance and Western powers in the region.
Amidst this backdrop of military enhancement, Pakistan grapples with an acute economic crisis, exacerbated by last year’s devastating floods which led to a severe reduction in the GDP growth projection from 5% to 0.29%. The financial strain is further highlighted by a comment from the Business Standard, noting, “Pakistan has no food for its people but purchases weapons.” The national budget reflects a 15.4% increase in defense spending, totaling 1804 billion rupees, even as the nation contends with skyrocketing inflation and widespread poverty.
The economic hardships have led to public discontent, with Pakistani media reporting severe shortages of basic necessities such as food and medicines. Many believe that the real power in Pakistan lies with the military, which commands a significant portion of the national budget and operates vast revenue-generating enterprises. This perception is reinforced by international discussions, such as those held by the IMF, which highlight the disproportionate allocation of resources to the military at the expense of civil needs, the EurAsian Times report said.
Adding to the controversy, recent reports from the BBC and other media outlets have suggested that despite Pakistan’s official stance of neutrality in the Ukraine conflict, there have been covert operations involving the supply of arms to Ukraine. These reports allege that under American pressure, Pakistan engaged in secret deals that not only violated its declared neutrality but also provided substantial profits from arms sales.

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