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Tuesday, June 22, 1999 Published at 11:30 GMT 12:30 UK

World: South Asia

Analysis: The cost of conflict

By South Asia Analyst Alastair Lawson

The conflict between India and Pakistan over Kashmir is expensive for both sides.

One estimate released this week put the cost of the Indian military presence in Kashmir at around $4m. But Pakistan also pays equally high bills on its side of the Line of Control.

Both India and Pakistan insist they have funds to pay for their respective military deployments in Kashmir.

[ image: Fighting and repairing the damage is getting expensive]
Fighting and repairing the damage is getting expensive
While it is difficult to estimate exactly what those costs are, India spends considerably more than Pakistan on defence.

That is principally because it has a larger army and has territorial borders adjoining Pakistan and China that it says need to be protected.

Moreover, Delhi has recently borne the additional expense of deploying more troops and hardware in Kashmir as part of its efforts to remove a group of armed men who it says are Pakistani-backed infiltrators.

Pakistan's pain is greater

The Indian defence budget of roughly $10bn a year is much bigger than that of Pakistan. However, Pakistani taxpayers pay nearly three times as much per head on defence as their Indian counterparts.

Yet it is estimated that the bill to keep Indian troops on the remote Siachen glacier amounts to $700,000 a day. Delhi is expected to pay similarly high bills for its operation to remove the guerrillas from the mountains in Kargil.

For Pakistan, it is far cheaper to keep its troops on Siachen, because it has better road access to the glacier. Unlike India, it is not so reliant on supplies being transported by air.

The limits of debt

But Pakistan is economically weaker than India, and last year came close to defaulting on its foreign debt after sanctions were imposed by the United States and Japan following its nuclear tests.

In the recent budget, the government announced that defence spending had gone up by around 10% for the next year.

That's an increase that Pakistan, closely watched by its foreign creditors, can ill-afford to pay.

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