Islamabad, Oct. 31: President Pervez Musharraf today said Pakistan has no plans to cut defence spending despite needing emergency aid to rebuild after the devastating October 8 earthquake.
“The government is not contemplating any cut in defence budget, as we cannot jeopardise security for the sake of reconstruction,” he said in Islamabad.
Musharraf said the country’s security remains important for the government. “However, at the same time, we will also ensure quick reconstruction and rehabilitation of quake-hit areas (in Northwestern Frontier Province and the Kashmir region).”
Pakistan’s military budget increased to 223.5 billion rupees (3.74 billion dollars) in June this year from last year’s 216 billion rupees (3.62 billion dollars).
The 7.6 magnitude earthquake on October 8 left more than 58,000 people dead in Pakistan with nearly 78,000 wounded and another 3 million without shelter.
Musharraf said Pakistan would host an international donors’ conference to be attended by UN secretary-general Kofi Annan on November 19 to raise funds for reconstruction after the October 8 quake.
Musharraf said financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and the Asian Development Bank would be invited along with international donors and Pakistani industrialists.
The UN said only about $117 million of $550 million flash appeal launched for Pakistan had been provided so far.
The UN warned that, with many survivors still without food or shelter, it could only keep its vital helicopter fleet running for another week unless more money was forthcoming.