February has been a stressful months for India-Pakistan relations after a suicide bombing in Kashmir killed 40 Indian security personnel, an attack claimed by Pakistan-based militant group Jaish-e-Mohammad. In response, the Indian Air Force launched 10 100 kg bombs on terrorist camps and launch pads in Balakot, and three other areas in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave the military a free hand while his counterpart Imran Khan said they would retaliate if attacked.
With the possibility of a war between both the countries, and the UN and other nations urging both of them to exercise “massive restrain”, let's take a look at the military strength of both neighbours.
Data from the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) reveals India allocated $58 billion, 2.1 per cent of its GDP to support its 1.4 million active troops, last year. Pakistan spent $11 billion, about 3.6 per cent of its GDP, on its 653,800 troops. It also received $100 million in foreign military assistance in 2018. Over 20 per cent of Pakistan's annual government expenditure between 1993 and 2006 was spent on the military. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said the military accounted for 16.7 per cent of government spending in 2017. Comparatively, India's military spending as a percentage of its government expenditure remained under 12 per cent during the same period.
MISSILES AND NUCLEAR WEAPONS
India has nine types of operational missiles, including the Agni-3 with a range of 1864 miles to 3106 miles. While Pakistan's missile programme, built with Chinese assistance, includes mobile short and medium-range weapons that can reach any part of India, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). The Shaheen 2 has the longest range of up to 1242 miles. Pakistan has 140 to 150 nuclear warheads, compared with India's 130-140 warheads.
India has a 1.2 million-strong army, supported by more than 3565 battle tanks, 3100 infantry fighting vehicles, 336 armored personnel carriers and 9719 pieces of artillery. Pakistan's army is comparatively smaller with 560,000 troops backed by 2496 tanks, 1605 armored personnel carriers, and 4472 artillery guns, including 375 self-propelled howitzers. In a report an IISS said despite its larger army, the capability of India's “conventional forces is limited by inadequate logistics, maintenance and shortage of ammunition and spare parts.”
The Indian air force is substantially larger with 127,200 personnel and 814 combat aircraft, but there are concerns about its fighter jet fleet. India's defence plans require 42 squadrons of jets, about 750 aircraft, to defend against a two-pronged attack from China and Pakistan. Officials say India could have 22 squadrons by 2032 with its older Russian jets like the MiG-21 retiring soon. Pakistan has 425 combat aircraft including the Chinese-origin F-7PG and American F-16 Fighting Falcon jets. It also has seven airborne early warning and control aircraft, three more than India.
India's navy consists of one aircraft carrier, 16 submarines, 14 destroyers, 13 frigates, 106 patrol and coastal combatant vessels, and 75 combat capable aircraft. It has 67,700 personnel, including marines and naval aviation staff. With a significantly smaller coastline, Pakistan has 9 frigates, 8 submarines, 17 patrol and coastal vessels, and 8 combat capable aircraft.