ISLAMABAD: The Prime Minister and his team on Tuesday briefed Chief of the Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa on the state of the economy to address the military’s concerns over “sky-high debts” and “growing external imbalances”.
The army chief was also given a briefing on the “real picture” of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and its intended benefits for the country, according to officials privy to the meeting. Gen Bajwa was also informed in details about external sector problems, said the officials.
Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi chaired the meeting, which also reviewed the security situation.
The meeting was held about a week after the army chief publically expressed concern about the country’s debts. He had also called for broadening of the extremely low tax base and bringing in financial discipline to break the “begging bowl”.
After the army chief’s public address at a seminar organised to highlight the interlink between security and the economy, the director general of Inter-Services Public Relations also said that if the economy was not bad, it was not good either, inviting a strong reaction from Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal, who also holds the charge of planning minister.
Iqbal, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, and Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif attended the meeting. The Pakistan-US relationship also came under discussion, said the officials.
It seems the government moved quickly to control the damage caused by Iqbal’s response to the military’s position on the economy. On Monday, Dar also tried to clarify the economic situation and urged commenters to take a holistic, rather than an isolated view, of the public debt position.