What do the masses in Pakistan value more: national security or educational development?
By: Iman Basit (Summer Intern- Batch 2)
Abstract: According to Bloomberg, in the 71 years of Pakistan’s inception, its military has come to earn an annual income of $1.5 billion with investments in multiple sectors of the economy and a 20% share in the GDP. This is an anomaly for a country that spends less than 5% of its GDP on social services like education and healthcare, where one-third of the population is under the poverty line, and which ranks 150 out of 189 on the Human Development Index. To understand this dichotomy, this paper will delineate the civil-military dynamics in Pakistan and discuss factors that led to the military’s dominance over democratic institutions. It will analyze how the public perceives the Army’s budget in comparison to the budget allocations made to the key development indicator: national spending on education. The highlighted trends will then be contextualized to decipher the political and historical factors that increased/decreased support for the military versus education. For this study, education is being used as a comparative development indicator because Pakistan has a youthful demography with 35.4% of its population between 0 and 14 years of age. Moreover, according to a survey poll conducted by Gallup in 2018 in Pakistan, 41% of the respondents believed good education was most essential for a better life (Figure 1).