Pakistan’s Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor has slammed the comments of Interior Minister and said that the national security is linked to national economy.
A day after Pakistan’s Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal commented on the country’s economic stability, Maj Gen Ghafoor said that he was disappointed by the minister’s remarks. He further added that while the national economy is not in a good shape, it is not in a bad shape either.
Maj Gen Ghafoor also said that there is no threat to the democracy from the Army and ruled out a possibility of joint operations with the US armed forces. He also clarified that his statements on the economy were based on the takeaways from a seminar that he attended with the Army Chief that was organized by the Chamber of Commerce.
The Interior Minister, Ahsan Iqbal, retaliated by saying that the civil authorities in the nation can do a better analysis than the Army and hence the Army must refrain from making such statements in the future as it tarnishes Pakistan’s image globally.
Last week, Pakistan’s Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, had said that the Army is keeping a strict eye on the economy and shared some apprehensions he had about the developments in the nation. Bajwa said:
“The economy is showing mixed indicators. Growth has picked up but the debts are sky high. [The situation regarding] infrastructure and energy have improved considerably but the current account balance is not in our favour.”
He also described Pakistan as a “strategically challenged state”. He further added:
“External actors are attempting to assert control and dictate our security priorities that have strong linkages with our economic future. The centre piece of this effort is the CPEC.”
These statements raise two questions. Let’s take them one at a time.
1. Why is Maj Gen Ghafoor stressing on economy and security?
Is there any connection between the Army and CPEC? Well, there is. China Pakistan Economic Corridor is being seen as a life saver for Pakistan’s economy. Even Gen Bajwa had mentioned it as a ‘centre piece of economic effort’. In the same lecture Gen Bajwa went on saying:
“It was fashionable to say that economics had subsumed security, but with the reemergence of parochial passions today security has once again become the foremost business and task of the state. It is high time for us to [give] economic growth and sustainability the highest priority. Let me share with you that during the National Security Council meetings, economy remains one of our highest concerns.”
Even though, India and US have mentioned that the CPEC goes through disputed territory, the Pakistani Army is tagging it as a cooperation between China and Pakistan. It is no secret that the two nations have become closer than ever, and the CPEC is a well-veiled opportunity to give Chinese military direct access to disputed territories military.
Gen Bajwa also mentioned:
“However, the completion of the project and, more importantly, optimisation of its socio-economic dividend for Pakistan and the region hinges on one word: ‘security’.”
The mere fact that a military person is talking highly about CPEC as a security is a clear indication that they are way too interested in CPEC.
2. Maj Gen Ghafoor explicitly mentioned that there is no threat to democracy from the Army. What was the need to stress upon it if there was no pertaining threat?
We all know that Pakistan has fallen into the hands of military rule too many times and even today, it will not be wrong to say that the nation is run by the military. Maj Gen Ghafoor’s statement points at the fact that Pakistan is de facto under military leadership.
The interior minister rebutted the statements and said that the civilians can do a better job at economic analysis. He said that “institutions do not work in isolation” and the army performs the operations within the parameters of law. Well, if it in fact did, why was there a need to point it out?
Is it that the real truth of how Pakistan functions is going to be revealed or is it that the nation is waiting to fall into the hands of a military dictatorship? Well, we just have to wait and find out.