COAS General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has said that the question of resumption of supplies to Nato, suspended since its helicopter gunships attacked the Pakistani border checkpost at Salalah, killing 24 soldiers, would be decided by Parliament. Perhaps of more significance was his statement about $1.5 billion payable under the Coalition Support Fund (CSF); General Kayani also said that the military was getting only 18 or 19 percent of the national budget, with the army only getting about eight or nine percent. Along with Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Qamar Suleman, he also said that the western and eastern borders of the country were safe. While the safety of the eastern border is a reference to the Indian threat, the reference to the western border is a reference to occupied Afghanistan. The two chiefs were speaking after a ceremony they attended at Shahbaz Air Base, Jacobabad, which had previously been occupied by US forces before being taken back by the PAF. General Kayani’s mention of the military budget must have been provoked by media reports suggesting that they were consuming 70 percent of the budget.

While the armed forces must not be neglected, and they must not be grudged what is spent on them, there is no need for extravagance. There should be no thought of any monetary conditionality placed on the resumption of supplies to the Nato forces in Afghanistan. The CSF is by no means some sort of reward for fighting the USA’s war. However, even the money that was promised has not been paid, leaving Pakistan to bear the costs.

While the chiefs have made their statements, it is now for the government to decide what is to be done. It should not give its armed forces the task it faces on the western border, of facing attacks from a supposed ally. The recommendations of the Parliamentary Committee on National Security must be debated by the whole House. The government must be prepared to do what is needed to ensure the proper defence of the country.