Time to wade through economic challenges as a nation: Army Chief

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RAWALPINDI: Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa said on Friday the country is going through difficult economic situation owing to fiscal mismanagement.
He was addressing a seminar on “Pakistan’s Economy: Challenges and Way forward” organised by Institute of Strategic Studies, Research and Analysis (ISSRA) at National Defence University (NDU), according to ISPR.
COAS said there is an undeniable linkage between security and economy as they both directly complement each other.
He said there cannot be any sovereignty in the absence of economic sovereignty and highlighted Pakistan’s efforts for restoring regional peace that will lead to better trade connectivity.
Talking about regional connectivity, COAS reiterated his vision that countries cannot develop individually but its region which develops.
“For our region to develop we need to have greater regional connectivity amongst all neighbors,”
On current economic situation, COAS said: “We are going through difficult economic situation due to fiscal mismanagement. We have been shying of taking difficult decisions. Army forces played their part by voluntarily forgoing annual increase in defence budget and this is not the only step we are taking for improvement of economy.”
“We understand that 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. There are examples in recent past when other countries also confronted smaller challenges and they came out successfully after taking difficult decisions. We shall also wade through these challenges.
“In difficult times no individual alone can succeed unless nation comes together. It’s time to be a nation,” he concluded.
Thanking NDU for organising the seminar and panel and other participants, COAS said such types of interactions are important to enable both government and other stakeholders to exchange their views on the issues of national importance.
The prime minister’s advisor on Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs Abdul Hafeez Shaikh in his key note speech dilated upon reasons which resulted in increasing these challenges. He counted perpetual security threats, inconsistent economic policies, poor economic discipline and lack of will to take difficult discisions in the past as major contributors to the economic situation the government is facing today.
The panel of speakers included Dr Salman Shah, advisor to the Chief Minister of Punjab on Economic Affairs and Planning and Dr Farrukh Iqbal, dean and director of IRA.
Dr Abid Qayum Sulen, Executive Director, Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), Almas Haider, President Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Syed Muhammad Shabbar Zaidi, Chairman FBR, Dr Ashfaque Hasan Khan, Principal and Dean of School of Social Sciences & Humanities (NUST) chaired and moderated the seminar.
A large number of economic experts, think tanks and representatives of business community attended the seminar.
The Chair in his introduction highlighted the linkage of economy and security. He quoted, Paul Kennedy – a British Historian specializing in the history of international relations and economics power as saying, “A nation’s military strength rests on its economic strength.” He also quoted Robert McNamara, former president of World Bank as saying, “Security means development and without development there is no security.”
He, thus, concluded that if the national economy is weakened, the country’s national security will weaken.
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 prevailing economic environment.

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