The Pakistani military on Wednesday announced rare cuts in the country’s defence budget. Major General Asif Ghafoor, the armed forces spokesperson, said the voluntary cuts in the defence budget for the next financial year will not be at the cost of the country’s security.

“We shall maintain effective response potential to all threats,” he tweeted. “[The] Three services will manage impact of the cut through appropriate internal measures.” Ghafoor said that that the cuts were necessary as money had to be routed to developmental projects in tribal areas and Balochistan.

The director of the defence media wing said the decision will have no impact on the military’s response to any security threats or endanger the lives of soldiers. “The no pay raise decision is also only for the officers and not the soldiers,” he added.

However, Ghafoor did not mention to what extent the military budget will be slashed.

Prime Minister Imran Khan appreciated the military’s “voluntary cuts” in defence spending, in a tweet late on Tuesday. “I appreciate Pak Mil’s unprecedented voluntary initiative of stringent cuts in their defence expenditures for next FY because of our critical financial situation, despite multiple security challenges,” he said. “My govt will spend this money saved on development of merged tribal areas & Balochistan.”

In February, the former information minister, Fawad Chaudhry, had said there would be no reduction in the defence budget, Dawn reported. However, last month, the Imran Khan-led government said that all civil and military institutions will contribute to the austerity-oriented federal budget for 2019-’20.

In 2018, Pakistan had increased its military budget to about $9.6 billion.

Pakistan is currently in the grip of an economic crisis. The country’s increasing foreign debt has widened the deficit in its current account. The country’s currency has also been losing its value since 2017. On May 13, Pakistan reached an agreement with the International Monetary Fund for $6-billion bailout package over five years.