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I was disappointed as a soldier and a citizen of Pakistan: ISPR

15 October, 2017

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ISLAMABAD: Dispelling the rumours of a martial law and the installation of a technocratic government, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor stressed the need for “stability” in the country.

“There is no threat to democracy from the Pakistan Army; [but] there could be a threat to democracy if its [democracy’s] requirements are not met,” he said while addressing a press conference on Saturday. “The government needs to continue and an established democratic system needs to continue,” he said.

To Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal’s criticism of the ISPR commenting on matters of the economy, Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor expressed his disappointment at the reprimand. “I was disappointed as a soldier and a citizen of Pakistan. We conducted a seminar with the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry. There were three former finance ministers, one former State Bank governor [in attendance]. The army chief gave a keynote address. I talked about it in my beeper [to a private TV channel] as well,” he recounted.

“The Pakistan Army is a state institution and it is very important to sit and talk about things,” he explained. “If we need to improve the economy, we will have to bring certain changes and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor needs to be supported [holistically].”

“Never did I say that Pakistan’s economy has been destroyed or something of that sort,” he clarified.

“We have all done a lot of work for the economy. And I have said the same thing: we have to sit together. It is a very simple [request]: that everyone needs to cooperate,” he said.

“The army chief told the traders [at the seminar] in informal talk that everyone should play their role [for the country’s economic betterment]. He told them to pay their taxes,” he said.

The ISPR spokesman said that the nature and character of war had changed because the direct strategy of waging war had been replaced by indirect warfare. “Social media has a huge role in this. Do not forward as received. Research! Don’t spread misinformation,” he said tangentially. “When it comes to Pakistan, the security and survival of Pakistan, we all are one,” he said. “Every Pakistani and every institution is one against them – the outside forces should know this.”

“Last year, the taxes recovered were only 39pc, and from private sector the recovery was only 40pc. It is too meagre,” he said. “That is all I said – that the tax base needs to be increased – and I stand by it,” he said. “When I say something here, I am speaking on behalf of the armed forces. I am not speaking in a personal capacity, as I am the spokesperson of the armed forces.”

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