- Need to differentiate between different shades of grey
While speaking at the 218th corps commanders conference, Gen Bajwa spoke on a number of issues of which two need special mention. The first relates to the economic performance of the government. While the conference expressed satisfaction over improved internal security situation and progress on regional peace initiatives, the COAS observed that ‘the dividends of improved internal security situation must reach out to people of Pakistan through socio-economic development’.
As things stand the economy remains in a bad shape with Standard & Poor’s bringing down Pakistan’s long-term credit rating to ‘B-Negative’ from ‘B’. With a radical reduction in terrorist attacks, one of the major disincentives for potential investors is no more there. The government’s ineptness has however stood in the way of attracting sufficient investments that can put the economy on rails. A few positive moves have been made to facilitate ease of doing business. The government’s Economic Advisory Council (EAC) however remains divided over vital issues like joining the IMF. Similarly bureaucratic hurdles continue to stall work on CPEC SEZs. This has led the Chinese ambassador to complain that poor trade policies, high taxes, no tax incentives and lack of business-friendly policies keep Chinese investors at bay. Political exigencies continue to deter the government from bringing the large trading community into the tax net while it relies instead on indirect taxation. This along with the rise of inflation to over 7pc is making life difficult for the common man.
There can no two opinions about the need on the part of the army to focus on strategising and implementing comprehensive national response against machinations by hostile intelligence agencies/inimical forces to undo the national gains for peace and stability. There is however a need to avoid putting those who oppose perceived acts of injustice against smaller nationalities into the category of inimical forces instead of removing their perceptions through dialogue and timely action in case any injustice has been perpetrated. The killing of Akbar Bugti ignited the fire that continues to rage in Balochistan. The country can ill afford another conflagration of the type. The strike in Balochistan following PTM leader Arman Loni’s killing should be an eye-opener.