Sovereignty hinges on economic autonomy, says army chief

Published: June 28, 2019
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A file photo of army chief Gen Qamar Bajwa. PHOTO: ISPR

A file photo of army chief Gen Qamar Bajwa. PHOTO: ISPR

Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa on Friday stated that there cannot be any sovereignty in the absence of economic sovereignty and while the country is going through a difficult economic situation, everyone needs to fulfill their responsibilities so that the initiatives taken by the government succeed.

The COAS was speaking at a national seminar titled ‘Pakistan’s Economy: Challenges and Way Forward’, organised by the Institute of Strategic Studies, Research and Analysis (ISSRA) at National Defence University (NDU) in Islamabad.

The seminar dilated on ways of overcoming budget deficit, low tax collection base, circular debt, loss-ridden public sector enterprises, fiscal indiscipline, undocumented economy, weak institutional capacity, low exports, meeting federal obligations within existing NFC arrangements and the perceptions surrounding the prevailing economic environment.

The COAS endorsed the undeniable link between security and economy, stating both directly complement each other.

‘Cumulative debt has crippled national economy’

He highlighted Pakistan’s efforts for restoring regional peace that will lead to better trade connectivity and reiterated the importance of regional security.

“Countries cannot develop individually, it is the region which develops. For our region to develop we need to have greater regional connectivity among all neighbours,” he stated.

Talking about the current economic situation, Gen Bajwa stated that the country is “going through difficult economic situation due to fiscal mismanagement”.

“The armed forces played their part by voluntarily foregoing annual increase in defence budget and this is not the only step we are taking for the improvement of economy. We understand that the government has gone for difficult but quintessential decisions for long term benefits and what we are doing is playing our part. We all need to fulfill our responsibilities in this regard so that these difficult initiatives succeed,” he added.

Panel of speakers included Advisor to Chief Minister of Punjab on Economic Affairs and Planning Dr Salman Shah, Dean and Director IBA Dr Farrukh Iqbal, Executive Director, Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) Dr Abid Qaiyum Suleri, President Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry Almas Haider and FBR Chairman Shabbar Zaidi.

Advisor to Prime Minister on Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, in his keynote address, shed light on the reasons which resulted into increasing these challenges. He counted perpetual security threats, inconsistent economic policies, poor economic discipline and lack of will to take difficult decisions in the past as major contributors to the economic situation the government is facing today.

The seminar was attended by large number economy experts, think tanks and representatives of business community.

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