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Army chief has every right to discuss economic condition of the country: Shahid Khaqan

17 October, 2017

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ISLAMABAD/NANKANA/SAHIB: Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has said a chief of army staff has every right to discuss or comment on the economic condition of the country.

“The army chief has expressed his opinion. He went to address an economic forum … everyone does that,” the prime minister maintained in an interview to a private TV channel, in the backdrop of a recent controversy which started following Gen Qamar Bajwa’s remarks during a seminar on economy.

The prime minister clarified that there was no tension in the civil-military relations. “I agree with ISPR chief. Every decision must be taken by the parliament and according to the constitution. If democracy is attacked the country will suffer,” he said.

Last week, Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa had said that the army was keenly watching developments in the country’s economy and shared some of the apprehensions about it. “Growth has picked up but the debts are sky high. [The situation regarding] infrastructure and energy have improved considerably but the current account balance is not in our favour,” the army chief was quoted as saying by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).

Furthermore, ISPR chief Asif Ghafoor had later said that “the country’s economic health, if not worse, was not good either”. His remarks draw a strong response from Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal who urged Gen Ghafoor to refrain from making comments on the national economy.

Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal also said on Monday that the matters with army had been ‘settled’ after his clarifying remarks in response to Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General Maj-Gen Asif Ghafoor’s statement on economic situation of the country. “I gave a statement, which was discussed and explained by the army and the matter is done now,” the interior minister told reporters at Nankana Sahib after meeting with the family of late Captain Husnain who embraced martyrdom in an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) blast in Kurram Agency a day earlier.

The minister said his recent statement was not against the army, adding that government and the army had no differences with each other. “We all ride the same boat … and have to do our part to steer through the storm,” he said.

Elaborating further, the interior minister said Pakistan Army and the government are mutually supporting each other which is essential for country’s prosperity and security. He said the enemies of the country wanted to fuel an environment of mistrust to achieve their nefarious objectives, adding those trying to create misunderstanding on the national issues will not succeed in their nefarious designs.

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