Do we have to have Amartya Sen or Milton Friedman tell us that our economy is bad shape, and that if not contained, the situation may spiral out of everyone’s control, putting the country on the verge of economic collapse?
No. The basic economic indicators testify to the sordid state of the country’s economy. Foreign exchange reserves are fast dipping; exports have plummeted; inflation is at an all-time high; job creation is non-existent; investment, both local and international, has dried up; and the general economic outlook is much bleaker than ever before.
This is an exceedingly alarming situation, for a country’s prosperity and security situation relies solely on its better economic and financial outlook. While the business community has cried foul over the precarious economic situation for the last couple of months, of late the army too has expressed its serious concern over the issue, with the army chief urging the government to focus on containing the situation before it is too late.
Interior minister Ahsan Iqbal reacted strongly to the army chief’s concern, saying the army should refrain from commenting on the country’s economic issues.
As if this were not enough for one to conclude that the veiled tussle between the army and the ‘democratic’ government is out in the open, the DG ISPR, in another news conference, took exception to Ahsan Iqbal’s remarks, insisting that the poor economic situation will directly affect the security situation, making it very difficult for the army to fight the war against terrorism.
So-called democrats like Asma Jahangir will once again frown over the army’s explicit attempt to make inroads into the political arena, but the fact is that army is already involved on many fronts. You call the army during floods and any natural or man-made catastrophe. The army is taking care of the security situation of the country, both at the border and within cities. Karachi is at peace today because of the Rangers’ concerted efforts, although in any genuinely democratic country it’s the police’s job to establish law and order in a city.
The question is: If you depend on the army for even matters that falls within the purview of the civic administration, why do you grumble when the army shows its justifiable concern over the economic situation of the country?
A force that is rendering immense sacrifice for the safety and security of the motherland is also well within its rights to be concerned about a situation that directly affects it. Only yesterday, four Frontier Corps (FC) personnel were martyred and three others injured in an improvised explosive device (IED) blast in the Kharlachi area of Kurram Agency near the Pak-Afghan border on Sunday. According to An Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) handout, the troops targeted by the blast “were part of a search party for handlers of the rescued foreigners”, Caitlan Coleman and Joshua Boyle, who were recovered by the army near Kohat.
Ahsan Iqbal and Co. would do well to avoid confrontation with the army and focus on improving the country’s economy.