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> How to Review the Defence Budget in Pakistan: Pakistani and Indian Experts talk to Pakistani MPs
   PILDAT holds Exclusive Briefing for the National Assembly Standing Committee on Defence
Briefing Session
June 23, 2009
Hotel Marriott, Islamabad


Islamabad, June 23; Pakistan’s Former Minister of State for Finance Mr. Omar Ayub Khan and India’s former Secretary Defence Finance Mr. Amiya Kumar Ghosh delivered the briefing on How to Review the Defence Budget to the Chairperson and members of the National Assembly Standing Committee on Defence today in Islamabad. The briefing was chaired by Chairperson National Assembly Standing Committee on Defence Dr. Azra Fazal Pechuho while Mr. Faisal Karim Kundi, Deputy Speaker National Assembly, Mr. Aftab Shaban Mirani, MNA and former Defence Minister, key members of the Defence Committee and other MPs and parliamentary staff were part of the briefing.


The exclusive briefing, a PILDAT initiative, was aimed at assisting Pakistan’s Parliamentary Committees on Defence as well as individual MPs to carry out their role of oversight of the defence sector. Parliamentary Control and Oversight of the Defence Sector is an accepted democratic principle in the world. Major part of this control and oversight is exercised through the work of parliamentary committees. PILDAT has been running a dialogue process on improving civil-military relations in Pakistan since September 2004 towards the larger goal of strengthening democracy in Pakistan and its role in supporting and assisting Parliamentary committees on Defence is a major part of the same initiative.


Given India’s parliamentary experiences within its sustained democracy, PILDAT commissioned a paper on “How to Review the Defence Budget” that could outline the role of the Indian Parliamentary Committee vis-à-vis the Indian defence budget over the years. The paper, authored by Mr. Amiya Kumar Ghosh, Distinguished Fellow, Centre for Air Power Studies and former Secretary Defence Finance, India, who was also a speaker at the briefing, provided a succinct summary of the role, powers and various approaches employed by the Indian Parliamentary Committee on Defence since 1994. The paper, together with the latest report of the Indian Parliamentary Committee on Defence and the Indian Defence Budget, which, in the interest of transparency is available on Indian Lok Sabha’s website, were made available to the participants of the briefing.


Mr. Omar Ayub Khan shared a comparison of the Defence budget made available to Parliament for the consecutive years and also presented a comparison of the defence budget with that of India. He highlighted that the Parliamentary committees had the necessary powers to carry effective oversight. He especially highlighted the powers to hold in-camera briefings and the powers to take evidence or call for papers, records or documents. He explained the budget process in detail and suggested that the inputs by the committee on the defence budget could be best timed at March-April each year.