Pakistan to freeze defence budget

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Islamabad, Jun 10 (UNI) Pakistan's Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has said his government would freeze defence spendings in the coming budget at last year's estimation as a measure of Country's tangible display to seek peace with neighbours.

''We have decided to freeze, actually reduce, the defence budget when seen in the context of inflation and the rupee-dollar parity and we hope to see a reciprocal gesture from our neighbours for peace and prosperity of the region,'' he said in a policy statement in the National Assembly, yesterday.

The Prime Minister announced that his government had also decided to present the defence budget estimates in a format reflecting the estimated expenditure under major heads.

''Presently the budget of three services, ordnance factories and other defence organisations is presented as a one line allocation and after approval of the budget, the Ministry of Defence apportions allocations of three services and other defence organisations,'' he said.

But it has now been decided to present the defence budget estimates in a format reflecting estimates of expenditure under major heads in parliament, Mr Gilani added.

The Prime Minister said the ministry of defence and the chief of the Army staff had fully endorsed the revised format of the defence services budget estimates.

Mr Gilani said Pakistan is located in a geo-strategically important and turbulent region and we are living in a volatile environment. ''Therefore, we cannot afford to remain oblivious to our defence needs,'' he added.

Mr Gilani said Pakistan stands for peace with honour and shall continue to strive for it without compromising its national interests. He declared that Pakistan's defence was based on the strategy of minimum essential and credible deterrence and it would not enter into an arms race.

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