As part of a massive fleet modernisation plan, the Pakistan Navy is seeking Rs15 billion over the next three years for its needs, a request that the acting naval chief made directly to Finance Minister Ishaq Dar.
Acting Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Khan Hasham Bin Siddique met the minister yesterday, at the finance ministry, seeking funds to meet the navy’s more urgent needs, as well as future requirements of the naval forces, according to a handout issued by the ministry. The acting naval chief sought over Rs2 billion for meeting immediate requirements and another Rs15 billion for future needs, said an official after the meeting.
The meeting indicates that the Pakistan Navy wants to go for major defence procurements over the next few years, aimed at modernising its fleet. As the smallest of Pakistan’s three armed services, the navy usually gets only one-tenth of the total stated defence budget, with the bulk going to the army. The direct meeting with the finance minister suggests that the navy is keen to get its needs fulfilled.
For his part, the finance minister was supportive of the idea of fleet modernisation, but asked the navy to go through the joint staff headquarters of the armed forces. “The minister directed that a complete picture of Armed Forces Development Plan (AFDP) be presented in consultation with the Joint Staff Head Quarters to assess the budgetary requirements over the next three years,” said the official handout.
However, Dar was also quoted as saying: “If there is a need, the government will not hesitate to help the navy through budgetary support.”
The federal government separately provides funds for the AFDP. This funding is over and above the traditional defense budget and usually ranges between Rs165 billion to Rs200 billion. For the current fiscal year, the government has allocated Rs165 billion under the heading “contingent liabilities”, but is meant for meeting the development needs of the military.