ISLAMABAD -  The government seems to be offended by army’s commenting on the economic situation of the country, as a minister yesterday advised ISPR chief to refrain from commenting on the state of economy.

Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa on Wednesday delivered a speech on the connectivity of security and economy wherein he also commented on the state of country’s economy, saying that it was “showing mixed indicators”.

Then in a TV interview on Thursday ISPR DG Major General Asif Ghafoor gave his views about the economic situation, saying that if Pakistan’s economy was not bad, it was not good either.

Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal, who also holds portfolio of planning and development, on Friday reacted to it, calling the economy stable and telling Asif Ghafoor to refrain from giving statements and analysis on the subject.

“The irresponsible statements affect the international reputation of Pakistan. Pakistan’s economy is far better as compared to 2013,” Ahsan, who is on an official visit to Washington, was quoted by his ministry as saying.

The military has been a powerful institution in Pakistan, holding power directly in times of martial laws and commanding sweeping influence in almost all spheres of public life when there have been civilian set ups in the power saddle.

The ruling PML-N under the lead of Nawaz Sharif has been seeking to shift the balance of power to the civilian side in a major way and forcing the army to keep within its domain. Especially, after his disqualification by the Supreme Court in July this year as a result of Panama leaks verdict, Nawaz has made the establishment of civilian supremacy their stated purpose.

The interior minister’s reaction is a manifestation of the efforts towards that goal. Moreover, Ahsan only a couple of weeks ago had a bad experience with the paramilitary Rangers, who defied his orders to let some PML-N leaders enter the Courts Complex on the occasion of Nawaz’s appearance before the NAB court.

Army Chief Gen Qamar Bajwa, in his address to a seminar on ‘Interplay of Economy and Security’, had talked about the challenges to country’s economy, calling for broadening tax base and bringing in financial discipline to get away with the foreign loans.

But Ahsan did not say anything about COAS’s speaking on the subject and saying almost the same thing, though in different words, as was said by ISPR DG.

The interior ministry quoted the minister as saying that country’s imports were affected because of the investment on energy projects but it was bearable.

He said that collection of taxes had increased up to double figure and the biggest development budget of the country’s history was being implemented and resources were being provided for the security operations of the country. He also said that the government did not need to opt for IMF program.

Interestingly, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar – who is the most relevant person to explain the economic situation – is embroiled in graft cases and is unable to give full attention to his job.

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Dar is the only person other than members of Sharif family who is facing corruption trial in accountability court as result of apex court’s verdict in Panama Papers case.

PTI chief Imran Khan was quick to respond to the interior minister's statement in a tweet, calling the "unwarranted attack" on ISPR "absurd". He blamed Nawaz Sharif and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar for "crushing the nation under debt".