In what appears to be an attempt to distance himself from comments attributed to him in the media, Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Nadeemul Haque said on Monday that defence was paramount in ensuring a nation’s territorial sovereignty.
Haque’s comments come on the heels of reports that attributed some controversial comments to him, such as him saying that Pakistan cannot progress economically until it abandons its nuclear programme. On Monday, Haque clarified that his concerns were far more connected to economic policy than any political matters. “My concern is growth and it did not mean I deny importance of defence,” said Haque.
“Savings from any one [category of expenditure] will not have any economic impact until the government initiated meaningful economic reforms,” he said. “Economic growth is not dependent on one aspect and the country needs to bring a paradigm shift to ensure sustainable growth necessary to absorb the increasing labour force. Our economy is only growing by 3%, but the labour force is growing by 3.6% per year.”
The reports that attributed the controversial comments to him also suggested that the National Defence University in Islamabad, a military-run institution, had cancelled Haque’s lecture after it allegedly learnt that his speech would be about rolling bank the country’s nuclear programme. However, a copy of the presentation that was leaked to The Express Tribune contained no such material.
The 41 slides of the presentation were about the trend of economic growth in Pakistan, a comparison with regional peers, proposed solutions to the nation’s economic problems, the negative aspects of the current growth strategy being pursued by the government as well as the benefits of the new strategy being proposed by the Planning Commission – one that was approved by the National Economic Council earlier this year.
Haque stated categorically that his presentation to the NDU had nothing to do with the nuclear programme. Military officials corroborated this account. One official, requesting anonymity, said that the lecture was postponed because many of the foreign participants were unavailable due to the Christmas holidays.
According to a statement released by the Planning Commission, the NDU workshop was part of a consultation process involving all stakeholders in an attempt to creating economic literacy and local ownership of the economic reforms being proposed under the Framework for Economic Growth of Pakistan.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 27th, 2011.