DG ISPR ‘disappointed’ by Ahsan’s statement, ‘stands by’ his comments

Published: October 14, 2017


ISLAMABAD: Democracy in the country faces no threat from the Pakistan Army but from the unfulfillment of the requirements of democracy and not coming up to the expectations of the people, military spokesman Major General Asif Ghafoor said on Saturday.

Maj-Gen Ghafoor, the Director General of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), told a press conference that the country needed stability to move forward and emphasised that the government and the established democratic system needed to continue.

“I have to say this because there are a lot of rumours about martial law and [the installation of a] technocratic government,” he said. “Democracy could only face threat if its requirements are not met and people’s aspirations [are not] fulfilled,” he added.

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

The ISPR chief said all the decisions at the national level were the prerogative of the prime minister. “There is civilian supremacy in the country and the chiefs of Pakistan’s armed forces are being appointed by the civilian government,” he added.

“If there’s a Rangers operation in Sindh, it is sanctioned by the government. Similarly, Punjab Rangers’ operations are also sanctioned by the government. All such decisions are taken by the elected government,” he said.

About his statement on the state of country’s economy and a strong reaction from Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal, he said there were two elements of the minister’s statement – one that it was an irresponsible statement and that only the enemies of Pakistan could talk like that.

“On this I was disappointed as a soldier and as a citizen of Pakistan” he said, explaining that the context of his statement was a seminar on economy in Karachi in which well-known economists and opinion-makers were invited and Amy Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa was the keynote speaker.

Criticism of DG ISPR’s comments on economy wasn’t confrontational: Ahsan Iqbal

He also played the recording of a private TV show. “I never said we are not doing anything to improve our economy. You may see all my statements,” he said. “I never said that it is only the armed forces that are working. No institution can work in seclusion. There will be ups and downs and I said a lot of work has been done and lot more needs to be done”, he added.

The spokesman emphasised that security and economy were closely linked. “When people interacted with the army chief after that seminar [on Wednesday] he urged them to play their role in improving economy and pay taxes,” he said.

Maj-Gen Ghafoor pointed out that in the last year, there were hardly 39% recoveries of taxes on the notices the government had served. Out of the 39% recoveries, 95% were indirect taxes, and of the 5% direct taxes, 60% were tax deductions from the salaries of government employees, he said.

“I don’t think I had said anything [negative]. I stand by my words,” he said. “Our basic purpose of this seminar was to sit together and see if [we] have to improve our economy… what role security should [we] play for that and how economy can fulfil security needs.”

The ISPR chief ruled out any joint military operation on the Pakistan soil – a proposal made by Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif during his recent US visit. “There is no concept of joint operation on Pakistani soil, full stop,” he said.

Technocrat govt can’t resolve Pakistan’s issues: PM Abbasi

“There had never been and there will be no [such] operation of Pakistani forces with any force of the world,” he said, adding that he had already clarified this issue before – though not with reference to the foreign minister’s statement but in general terms.

However, he went on to say that sometimes military terminologies needed clarification. “In military terminology when we say joint operation it means our own troops acting together along with other country’s troops,” he added.

Maj-Gen Ghafoor expressed Pakistan’s readiness for cooperation with the US on security front which is “trust-based” and for the common objective. The army chief had started a policy of engagement with the US, he said. “We have security cooperation [with US] and it will continue to improve.”

On former ISI chief Lieutenant General Rizwan Akhtar’s premature retirement and the rumours spreading on social media, he said the general was taking the retirement due to some personal compulsions.

When asked about reports of shifting of Taliban political office from Doha to the UAE, he said Foreign Office might be approached for the comments because the matter did not fall in his domain.

At the press conference Maj-Gen Ghafoor also narrated how the military rescued the Canadian-American family from their kidnappers this week.

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Reader Comments (9)

  • Atif Siddiqui
    Oct 14, 2017 - 6:26PM

    Cutting the perks of officers and increasing the salary of jawans might be a good thing. Recommend

  • Sameer
    Oct 14, 2017 - 7:29PM

    No reason to be dissappointed. After all, it was your Musharraf who did so good for this country but put a nail in our backs by letting these vultures in to Pakistan via NRO in the first place.Recommend

  • FN
    Oct 14, 2017 - 7:42PM

    Either they should explicitly take over or they should stop interfering in matters of the government. You can’t claim democracy is not under threat while you try to dictate civilian government and criticize is openly. Recommend

  • Ayesha Khan
    Oct 14, 2017 - 8:01PM

    Economy is sliding and it indeed is in bad shape.
    And by the way Mr Ahsan Iqbal is not Finance Minister so why did he go Annual Meeting of World Bank and not the Finance Minister??. And why is the Finance Minister not making comments on Economy?Recommend

  • Amir
    Oct 14, 2017 - 8:27PM

    The interior minister told reporters in Washington that “such irresponsible statements could damage Pakistan’s image globally”.

    What image is Ahsan Iqbal talking about? The image of a nation led by crooks and criminals over the past decade ???Recommend

  • disappointed
    Oct 14, 2017 - 8:35PM

    Military has a full plate in handling terrorists and doesn’t need to waste time talking about financial leverage and other topics that aren’t part of it’s stated objectives. Seems like all the major players in Pakistan feel free to comment about how others are doing their job. Recommend

  • SM
    Oct 14, 2017 - 8:58PM

    General saab, the army had no business commenting on the economy. This country can be so much stronger if every institution stays within its constitutionally prescribed limits.Recommend

  • MS
    Oct 14, 2017 - 9:12PM

    One of the solution to such confrontation is to allocate a fixed percentage of GDP to defence expenditure and let government make it’s independent policies. If economy grows so would be defence budget. Defenders enforce their own economic and foreign policies but want fixed amount irrespective of economic situation of the country. Recommend

  • Ali
    Oct 15, 2017 - 11:12AM

    Good law and order and security situationn are a prerequisite for strong economy. What has the army done to ensure safety and security in the country since Musharraf era?Recommend

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