A recent news item disclosed that the Planning Commission had sought the prime ministers approval for cutting the allocation for the Federal Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) by a massive 36 percent. If approved, the Federal PSDP would be reduced from the original budgetary allocation of Rs 446 billion to Rs 285 billion during the current financial year. According to the report, if the Finance Ministry had its way, the allocation for the Federal PSDP would be reduced by 44 percent lowering it to Rs 250 billion. Obviously, this massive downsizing will slow down the process of economic recovery, increase the incidence of poverty, delay the achievement of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) particularly in health and education sectors, and delay progress on major infrastructure projects relating to such crucial sectors as energy, irrigation, transportation and communication. The growth rate of the GDP may decline to about 2.5 percent against the target of 3.3 percent in 2009-10. The main reason for this massive shortfall, besides shod-dy planning and budgeting, is the increase in defence budget by 28 percent raising it from Rs 393 billion (including military pensions) to more than Rs 520 billion. There cant be a more telling example of the misplaced priorities that our country has been pursuing for the past six decades. The latest proposed cut in development expenditure and increase in the defence expenditure as against the budgeted figures are hardly unusual. This practice by now has become an annual routine. For instance, during the preceding financial year, the defence expenditure was increased from the budgeted figure of Rs 346 billion to Rs 361 billion including military pensions. On the other hand, the PSDP including the share of the provinces was reduced from Rs 550 billion to Rs 419 billion, a decrease of Rs 131 billion. For the current financial year, the government proudly claimed at the time of the presentation of the budget in the National Assembly, that the PSDP including the share of the provinces was being increased by 54 percent to Rs 646 billion as against the revised estimates for 2008-09 at Rs 419 billion. We now know that the actual PSDP including the share of the provinces is likely to be around Rs 400 billion during 2009-10, that is, even less than the comparable figure for the last financial year. So much for the present so-called 'peoples governments tall claims regarding its focus on the alleviation of poverty and accelerating the pace of economic progress The results of this annual farce that the successive governments have been playing on the people of Pakistan are not difficult to imagine. The average annual GDP growth rate which was estimated to be 6.5 percent in 1980s, came down to 4.6 percent in 1990s and is again likely to be around 4.6 percent during the first decade of the 21st century according to the available data. By way of comparison, India for the last many years has been recording annual GDP growth rate of about 8 percent. As for human development, according to the UN Human Development Report for 2009, we were ranked at 141 out of 182 countries on the scale of human development index. The same report points out that our performance in the fields of education and health lags far behind other developing countries. The neglect of the education sector is particularly worrisome, as in the modern knowledge-driven world progress without assigning the highest priority to education generally and to sciences and technology in particular is inconceivabl. One of the most important tasks that any leadership faces is the allocation of resources to competing claims for economic development and welfare', on the one hand, and military purposes, on the other. The higher the allocation of funds for military purposes, the lower the amount available for development. If the leadership over-emphasises the military at the expense of economic progress, it sows the seeds for the nations comparative decline endangering its security in the long run. If it neglects the military sector, it runs the risk of endangering the nations security in the immediate future. The test of the leadership lies in striking a balance in the allocation of reso-urces for military and economic purposes which would launch the country on a sustainable high rate of economic growth, while ensuring its short-term and long-term security. Considering Pakistans low level of development, widespread poverty, dilapidated physical infrastructure, and poor state of education and health sectors, it is clear that our civilian and military leaders have been guilty of assigning too high a priority to the military sector at the cost of the economic progress and welfare. This is not surprising in view of the preponderant weight of the military establishment in the governments decision making process whether we have a military government or a democratically elected one. If this trend is not reversed through necessary corrective measures, the danger is that in comparative terms our country will continue to experience an economic decline posing a serious threat to its long-term security. Our military establishment must assume a large share of the blame for the current unsatisfactory state of affairs because of its acquisitive approach aimed at obtaining a bigger share of the nations resources than what was necessary. While paying lip service to the need for strengthening the country economically, it has in actual practice acted in a contrary fashion. It has over-emphasised the military aspect of security at the expense of its political, economic and diplomatic dimensions. It has also failed to develop a strategic doctrine which would ensure the nations security within the constraints of its limited resources. Instead it has slavishly pursued the military doctrines of the Western countries which are not constrained by the lack of resources as Pakistan is. Our army leadership has also been guilty of adventurism (e.g. Kargil under Musharraf) with disastrous consequences for the country strategically, politically, economically and diplomatically. Further, the mismanagement of Pakistans Afghanistan and Kashmir policies by the army in 1990s has inflicted an enormous cost upon the country in military and economic terms besides fomenting religious extremism, brutalising our society, and aggravating the problem of terrorism. We would be well advised to take a leaf out of Chinas book and study how skilfully its leaders have managed the nations affairs since 1970s. Their policies have ensured Chinas security in the face of threats at varying times from the USSR, India and the US while putting it on a trajectory of high economic growth rate. In contrast, the USSR committed the mistake of building a heavy military superstructure on weak economic foundations and internal political infirmity leading to its collapse, despite the excess of its nuclear and conventional weaponry. Let us hope that our leaders will draw the right lessons from history and adopt a grand strategy based on internal political stability fortified by the right combination of economic strength, pro-active foreign policy and military prowess instead of over-emphasising the military dimension of security at the expense of economic development. The writer is a retired ambassador. Email: javid.husain@gmail.com