Pakistan Army should refrain from commenting on economic issues as "irresponsible" statements could tarnish the country's image globally, Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal said today, amidst growing unease between the military and the civilian government.
Iqbal's response came a day after Director General of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), Major General Asif Ghafoor told a private TV channel that, "If the economy is not bad, it is not doing so well either," Dawn news reported.
His remark followed an address by army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa to leaders of Karachi's business community earlier this week, in which he had stressed that economic stability was tied deeply to Pakistan's security concerns.
Bajwa said that national security and economy were interlinked and called for broadening tax base and bringing in financial discipline.
Iqbal said that Director General of ISPR should refrain from passing comments on the country's economy.
In a statement, the interior minister, who is in Washington, also said that "irresponsible remarks can affect the international standing of Pakistan."
Pakistan's powerful military has ruled the nation for over half of the country's existence since independence from Britain in 1947.
The interior minister said Pakistan's economy was much more stable as compared with the situation in 2013.
"We have seen a rise in imports as the industrial sector is investing in the power sector but it's nothing to be alarmed about," he said.
"Revenue generation has witnessed a two-fold increase because of the improvement in the tax collection system," he was quoted as saying by the Express Tribune.
Iqbal said Pakistan's current development budget was its biggest in the country's history.
He added that the government had allocated more funds and resources for security.
"We don't need to seek loans from the IMF," he retorted to the recent criticism that Pakistan was carrying a "beggar's bowl" and there were economic concerns because of its "sky- high debt".
Major General Ghafoor earlier this month had justified the deployment of Rangers personnel outside a court hearing corruption cases against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, saying that written orders were not issued on all occasions.
When asked to comment on the hard-hitting statements issued by Interior Minister Iqbal after he was refused entry to the judicial complex, he observed that the personnel performing their duties should be appreciated.
"A soldier who is deployed [somewhere] is doing his duty, and if he is told not to allow irrelevant people... it is possible [to consider] someone who does not have [credentials] as an irrelevant person," Ghafoor had said.
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