Report: India, Pakistan biggest importers of arms

India and Pakistan were among the biggest importers of arms, and accounted for more than 18 percent of the world’s total arms imports, from 1988 to 1992, a United Nations report released in New Delhi said Thursday.

The report, prepared by top officials and economists of the U.N. Development Program, said India was the largest buyer of conventional arms between 1989 and 1992, a trend that was largely responsible for the country’s unmet social agenda.

The report also indicted China, Iran, Pakistan, the Republic of (North) Korea, Malaysia and Nigeria as having sacrificed human security in their search for more sophisticated arms.

India and its neighbor, Pakistan, spent some $19 billion on defense last year, which could have been better utilized for poverty alleviation programs in the two countries, the report said.

According to the report, the expenditure incurred by India to acquire 20 Russian MIG-29 fighters could have provided basic education for 15 million Indian girls who are now out of school.

Pakistan’s funds for buying 40 Mirage 2000E fighter planes could have provided safe drinking water for two years to 55 million people in that country, in addition to essential medicines for 13 million people who have no access to health care and other welfare benefits, the report pointed out.

The report said those encouraging the global trade in arms were the very nations charged with global security — the five permanent members of the Security Council.

The report especially rapped the United States for fueling the arms race by selling arms worth more than $54 billion from 1988 to 1992. The former Soviet Union closely followed with $45.1 billion in sales.

However, the report found a silver lining in some developed countries that had started linking financial aid to their citizens with a decrease in their military spending. This, the report said, was a healthy trend.