Thursday, September 21st, 2017
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In the late 18th century, a Scandinavian company named Nobel Group invented dynamite and thereon gun powder. This proved to be one of the most commercially rewarding inventions of all times. It dealt with death and destruction. For more than 100 years the Nobel Group supplied dynamite and explosives to the warring groups (both sides). If there was no war going on, the agents of this group would create wars to market their deadly products. By 1910, it had become one of the richest corporations in the world; on the back of 50 million deaths. At that time, the family members suffered a pang of conscience. They wanted to be peace loving. They created the Nobel Prize - for peace, medicine, economics, literature, etc. Today the most sought-after accolade is the Nobel peace prize our very own Malala Yousaf Zai has one. This switch from an international murderer to peace prize is the greatest rebranding exercise in history. Another rebranding exercise is currently under way by Mustafa Kamal.

But peace is elusive. Warfare is constant. Rich profits accrue if a war is going on. In aerospace and defence sector in the US, the top 12 companies had revenues of US $340 billion in 2016. These include Boeing ($94 billion), United Technologies ($ 57 billion), Lockheed Martin ($50 billion), General Dynamics ($ 31 billion), Northrop Grumman ($ 24 billion), etc. Donald Trump is beholden to these corporations. The power centre in the US is not the State Department which only has a budget of US $ 67 billion. It is the Department of Defence (DoD) which has a budget of approx US $ 700 billion. People who deal in power realism know where to go in the US.

Arms merchants absolutely love countries that starve their own people, but buy expensive weaponry. In select countries, defence spending as percentage of GDP is as follows:


Afghanistan 16.40%

Oman 16.40%

Saudi Arabia 13.00%

Iraq 12.80%

Israel 6.20%

Russia 4.20%

USA 3.30%

Pakistan 2.80%


From the above you will realise that Pakistan is not a "war monger".

Defence spending in 2015 in US $ billion was as follows (for select countries)


Countries $(bn)


USA 598

China 146

Saudi Arabia 82

Russia 52

India 48

Israel 19


The per person defence spend in 2015 was as follows:


Oman $3,000

Saudi Arabia $2,950

Israel $2,310

USA $1,860


The numerical strength of various armed forces is as follows:


China 3 million (2.3 million Regular others Reser

USA 2.3 million (Regular 1.4 million)

India 2.5 million (Regular 1.3 million)

Russia 2.7 million (0.7 million Regular)

Pakistan 0.6 million (all Regular)

Viet Nam 5.5 million (only 0.5 million Regular)


The primary aim of the armament companies (the merchants of death) is to sell, sell and sell. Consume, consume, consume. They love arms importing countries.

In 2015, the major Arms importers were:


US $ (bn)


Saudi Arabia 3.161

India 3.078

Australia 1.574

Egypt 1.45

UAE 1.29

China 1.21

Pakistan 0.735


The armament manufacturing corporations keep a select list of their major clients. These lists are never made public. The last time a major 'expose' took place when Rajiv Gandhi received kickbacks from Bofors of Sweden. The current grapevine is that General Raheel Sharif (retd's) name has been placed on the select list. As the chief executive of the Islamic coalition against terror, he will have plenty of funds at his disposed for military equipment. The arms merchants are going to be disappointed - Raheel Sharif does not deal in 'kickbacks'.

(The writer is the former Executive Director of the Management Association of Pakistan)

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