ISLAMABAD - COAS General Qamar Bajwa has for the first time raised serious concerns over the economic conditions of the country and especially the rising debt of Pakistan.
He said it is high time that economic growth and sustainability was placed at highest priority.
“Growth has picked up but the debts are sky high. Infrastructure and energy have improved considerably but the current account balance is not in our favour,” he told the audience at the seminar on ‘Interplay of Economy and Security’ held in Karachi on Wednesday.
The COAS said the country’s tax to GDP ratio is abysmally low, which “needs to change if we are to break the begging bowl”, adding that economy remains “one of our highest concerns during National Security Council meetings”.
According to the finance ministry, each Pakistani owes Rs95,000 in debt with the country’s foreign debt and liabilities standing at $58 billion – around Rs6.11 trillion.
“In order to secure our future, we must be ready to take difficult decisions,” he said. “We have to increase our tax base, bring in fiscal discipline and ensure continuity of economic policies.”
Regarding the continuing security operation in Karachi, the army chief said when Pakistan’s enemies want to “choke Pakistan, they try to destabilise Karachi”.
“It is because of this sensitivity, that peace in Karachi has been our top priority,” he said. “We have worked very hard to restore peace and now hope that economic activity would return at a fast pace.”
He also spoke on external security and the need to pursue the National Action Plan, which was initiated after the 2014 Peshawar attack.
He appreciated the security for improvement in the country’s security environment.