On Friday, the public relations officer of Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal issued a statement saying that the army needs to stop commenting on the economic affairs of the country. Director General of Inter Services Public Relations (DGISPR) Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor was especially called out because of his recent interview to a private TV channel. In that interview he remarked on the economic situation of the country. Chief of Army Staff (COAS) also addressed Karachi’s business community on Wednesday, claiming that economic stability is closely tied to the security situation of the country.

Objectively, and as opposed to what Mr Ahsan Iqbal claims, the comments on the economy are not incorrect – the macroeconomic situation of the country is troubled to say the least. Furthermore, it is also true that the military plays a vital role in securing and facilitating economic ventures.

However, the military making these comments, especially in public events, is problematic.

Due to the recent instability in the government setup, experts were speculating growing control of the army and mounting tensions with the Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) government. Amidst of all these claims, DG Rangers clarified the situation by highlighting army’s promise to uphold the democratic principles of the country. He also, as a representative of the institution, promised support to the civilian government to ensure the smooth functioning of the system.

However, the army seems to be ignoring its own promises and continuing to interfere in areas that do not come under their authority. Ahsan Iqbal is right in pointing out that the economy and its policies do not fall under the jurisdiction of the army. It comes under the jurisdiction of the finance minister and broadly speaking, the government. The constitution does not permit the army to involve itself in political matters and matters of policy.

Furthermore, they are failing to realise that their continuous remarks on civilian matters are picked up by foreign publications and news channels. They then portray this as a signal of growing discord in the Pakistani state and some have even insinuated a “soft coup”. The establishment has reprimanded the government several times for “portraying a negative image” – now their comments are doing the same thing.

The military’s input is invaluable. However, if they have concerns, they should be conveyed to the government and not the public. Public platforms cannot be used in such a manner; they inevitably give proceedings a political tone.