DG ISPR should refrain from commenting on economic issues: Ahsan Iqbal

Published: October 13, 2017

ISLAMABAD: The chief military spokesperson should not be commenting on national economy, Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal said on Friday – a day after Major General Asif Ghafoor said, “If Pakistan’s economy is not bad, it’s not good either”.

“DG ISPR [the director general, Inter-Services Public Relations] should refrain from commenting on national economy,” said the minister while speaking to journalists informally in Washington on Friday. “Irresponsible statements could hurt Pakistan’s global image,” he added.

Maj Gen Ghafoor made the comment in an interview with a private TV channel on Thursday – a day after army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa voiced concerns at the country’s ‘sky high’ debt and called for broadening tax base and bringing in financial discipline to break the ‘begging bowl’.

Addressing a seminar on ‘Interplay of Economy and Security’ in Karachi on Wednesday, Gen Qamar said Pakistan’s economy was showing mixed indicators as “the growth has picked up, but the debts are also sky high”.

Conversely, Iqbal, who is currently touring the United States, said Pakistan’s economy was much more stable as compared to the situation in 2013.

‘Sky high debt’ worries COAS

“We have seen a rise in imports as the industrial sector is investing in the power sector. There is nothing to be alarmed about,” he added.

“Revenue generation has witnessed a twofold increase because of the improvement in the tax collection system.”

He said Pakistan’s current development budget was its biggest in the country’s history.

“We don’t need to seek a bailout package from the International Monetary Fund (IMF),” he added. “The government has allocated more funds and resources for security purposes.”

Analysts say the apparent spat show growing unease in civil-military relationship. Earlier this month, the interior minister also had a tiff with Rangers when he was denied entry into Islamabad’s accountability courts by paramilitary troops.

Incensed by the incident, Ahsan said he would not allow a “state within the state” and ordered an inquiry into deployment of the Rangers outside the courts as the administration had denied it had called in the paramilitary troops.

He had threatened to resign if he could not find out who had deployed the Rangers when deposed premier Nawaz Sharif was appearing before the accountability court in connection with a corruption reference against him.

Later the DG ISPR said the Rangers were deployed at the courts due to security threats. “It is not compulsory for every order to be written,” he said while referring to the deployment order.

However, he defended the Rangers saying the paramilitary troops performing their duty at the court should be appreciated.

“A soldier deployed [somewhere] performs his duty, and if he is told not to allow irrelevant people… it is possible [to consider] someone who does not have [credentials] as an irrelevant person,” he had said.

Interior minister’s ‘unwarranted attack on ISPR’

Meanwhile, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan termed Iqbal’s statement an “unwarranted attack on ISPR”, saying the statement was part of the ‘Dawn leaks’ agenda.

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Reader Comments (15)

  • Waqas Ahmad
    Oct 13, 2017 - 8:03PM

    Then Civil Govt and politicians should refrain from screwing the economyRecommend

  • amir
    Oct 13, 2017 - 8:06PM

    the politicians have ruin the country because of their self interest and nefarious ways to justify corruption.

    But for once I do agree the army job is to protect the nation from enemy of the state. They are an institution which is under the civilian government. And if we look the ground reality are different, they are answerable to no one. And they are also business minded, where they should not be in. Real estate, airline, telco, banks, FMCG, fertilizers, farming, logistics, construction.

    Controversial comment as one cant speak against the sacred institution, let’s see if ET has the courage to allow thisRecommend

  • powayman
    Oct 13, 2017 - 8:28PM

    Neither Military or Interior Minister is responsible for financing Pakistan. And the Interior Minister isn’t responsible for maintaining Pakistan’s foreign image. Seems like most of the Big Wigs in Pakistan haven’t figured out what their jobs are. BTW – where’s Dar?Recommend

  • Sabi
    Oct 13, 2017 - 8:49PM

    This is how they work to rollback democracy in this country, I know it and I feel sad for the poor people of this land.Recommend

  • Nadir Sadiq
    Oct 13, 2017 - 10:24PM

    And it is OK to amend laws to bring a thief back as chief of a political party – That is very elevating in the world. The General has the right to say what ever he likes he is a Pakistani too and a better one at that than most of the political leaders – Specially the sell out bunch of PML-NRecommend

  • Hugh Slaman
    Oct 14, 2017 - 1:19AM

    Typical response. Create a mess, and when people point it out, accuse them of damaging Pakistan’s reputation. Then go back to looting money and creating mess.Recommend

  • Tahir
    Oct 14, 2017 - 2:04AM

    Russian had 700 nukes at 8.s but fall due to bad economy.. this is what army is seeing fall of pakistan due to bad economy and they could not let it fall…
    Civilian govts were never good to economy due ro corruption all they matter..Recommend

  • BrainBro
    Oct 14, 2017 - 2:43AM

    Debt is all Pakistan’s got right now. The Army is right, but then again it’s a game of thrones. Let’s see who wins in the end.Recommend

  • amjed jaaved
    Oct 14, 2017 - 5:41AM

    Instead of washing dirty linen in public, both civil and military authorities should sit together again, if their earlier sitting at NSC was not useful. They should examine economic issues and sort them out. Of course debt service and defence budget take away a big chunk of our federal budget.Recommend

  • Ch. Allah Daad
    Oct 14, 2017 - 6:09AM

    Interior Minister is also Minister of Planning, Development and Reforms. He is visiting US in this capacity, therefore he can talk about economy and image of Pakistan. If you don’t know Planning, Development and Reforms, these have some connections with economy.Recommend

  • Atif Siddiqui
    Oct 14, 2017 - 8:37AM

    Half of Pakistan’s annual budget if pensions are included, goes to them. The rest for 200 million people.Recommend

  • common Pakistani
    Oct 14, 2017 - 10:53AM

    it can only happen once the corruption and extortion dna of mafia rings aka political parties stop screwing up Pakistan’s wealth. All these self-proclaimed “democratic” civilian politicians are looting and taking wealth of Pakistan abroad. These self-serving criminal cliques have piled up huge loan onto Pakistan and this nincompoop ahsan iqbal’s party is guilty of corruption.Recommend

  • Abdullah
    Oct 14, 2017 - 12:02PM

    Agreed. He is spot on.Recommend

  • Farhan
    Oct 14, 2017 - 4:14PM

    Ahsan Iqbal is correct.

    Pakistan has huge debts but it is slowly getting on track. Any military intervention in pure economic issues would only hit the confidence of investors on Pakistan.Recommend

  • Capt sajid abdul saeed
    Oct 14, 2017 - 7:37PM

    It,s only losers here,no winners,rest assured.and pakistan unfortunately wont be the first unbecoming nation in the history to go bust.next ,we shall be parting with our nuclear assets
    To avert an economic collapse which will only be deffered by a few years at the most.I love pakistan but as a group of incompetent and dishonest people on the whole we have already even sold the futures of our generations to come.Recommend

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