Published Date: Jun 29, 2019
Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa on Friday said Pakistan was going through a difficult economic situation due to fiscal mismanagement and the country could not get out of it unless the nation fully supported the government’s difficult but quintessential decisions for long-term benefits. He was addressing a seminar on “Pakistan’s Economy: Challenges and Way Forward” organised by the Institute of Strategic Studies, Research and Analysis (ISSRA) at the National Defence University (NDU) here.
Dr. Ashfaque Hasan Khan, Principal and Dean School of Social Sciences and Humanities (NUST), chaired and moderated the seminar. The speakers’ panel included Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs, Dr. Salman Shah, Adviser to the Punjab Chief Minister on Economic Affairs and Planning, Dr. Farrukh Iqbal, Dean and Director IBA, Dr. Abid Qayyum Suleri, Executive Director Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), Almas Haider, President Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and Syed Muhammad Shabbar Zaidi, Chairman FBR.
General Bajwa said there could not be any sovereignty in the absence of economic sovereignty adding that no one alone could succeed in difficult times unless the nation rose to the challenges unitedly.
He said Pakistan was going through a difficult economic situation but there was no reason to shy away from taking difficult decisions. “We understand that the government has gone for difficult but quintessential decisions for long-term benefits and what we’re doing is playing our part,” he said.
“The armed forces played their part by voluntarily foregoing annual increase in the defence budget and this is not the only step we are taking for improving economy,” he said. He said everybody needed to fulfill their responsibilities in this regard to ensure success of the ongoing difficult initiatives taken by the government.
“There are examples in the recent past when other countries also confronted similar challenges and they came out successfully after taking difficult decisions. In difficult times no individual alone can succeed unless the nation comes together unitedly and it is time to be a nation,” the COAS said.
“InshAallah, Pakistan will wade through all these challenges successfully,” he said. Talking about the regional connectivity, he reiterated his vision that countries could not develop individually rather it was the region that developed.
“For our region to develop, we need to have greater regional connectivity amongst all neighbors,” he continued. He thanked the NDU for organising the seminar and panel and participants for their participation.
“Such type of interactions are important to enable both the government and other stakeholders to exchange their views on issues of national importance,” he said and endorsed the undeniable linkage between security and economy, as both directly complement each other.
In his key note address, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh dilated upon reasons which increased challenges for Pakistan. He counted perpetual security threats, inconsistent economic policies, poor economic discipline and a lack of will to take difficult decisions in the past as major contributors to the economic situation the government is facing today.
A large number of economy experts, think-tanks and representatives of business community attended the seminar. The seminar dilated on ways to overcome budget deficit, low tax collection base, circular debt, lossmaking 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.
Meanwhile, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Information and Broadcasting Dr. Firdous Ashiq Awan Friday said the statement of Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa had emerged as a ray of hope.
Commenting on General Bajwa’s address in a tweet, she said the civil and military leaderships were on the same page for the first time in country’s history to steer the motherland out of crises hindering its march towards financial solvency and reinforced defence.
She said the nation was going through difficult economic conditions and it was for the first time in the country’s history that tax collection had taken the shape of a national movement credit for which went to Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan.
She said it was Imran Khan who had taken practical steps to put the country on the path of self-reliance. “This is called patriotism,” she said and urged the nation to wage a struggle to steer the country out of current problems.
Dr Firdous said the prime minister had taken bold decisions keeping in view the national interests. “A bright future will be our destination if we manage to pass through the crises with courage and stability,” she added.