Military Budgets in India and Pakistan: Trajectories, Priorities, and Risks

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The strategic competition between India and Pakistan is evolving, with India outpacing Pakistan in conventional capabilities while Pakistan seeks to compete with nuclear capabilities. India’s economy is eight times larger than Pakistan’s, and may be 15 times larger in 2030. Absent reconciliation between India and Pakistan, how each state converts economic power into military strength will reflect longstanding grievances. India’s advantages are diminished by an ad hoc approach to defense budget management and other constraints, but long term trends point to Indian ascendance. Pakistan cannot match India conventionally in the long term, and any attempt to do so will exhaust its economy. Responding to adverse defense spending trends with increased reliance on nuclear weapons, especially short-range weapons, may be a cost effective approach, but it is likely to diminish Pakistan’s national security. 

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