ISLAMABAD    -   Top military leadership has reviewed geostrategic, national security environment and ongoing situation in India-occupied Kashmir, reiterating their resolve for befitting response to any Indian misadventure.

The Corps Commanders’ Conference presided over by Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa was held here on Thursday at General Headquarters in Rawalpindi, according to a press release issued by the military’s media wing.

“Forum reviewed geo-strategic and national security environment, and ongoing situation in IOJK (India-occupied Jammu and Kashmir). Forum acknowledged effective highlighting of Kashmir dispute exposing Indian human rights violations in under siege IOJK during the UNGA session,” said the press release.

The meeting expressed appreciation for effectively dealing with foreign backed efforts in destabilising Pakistan through various machinations.

The commanders reiterated their resolve for befitting response to any Indian misadventure or aggression, in the backdrop of threats being issued by Indian military commanders through their irresponsible media statements.

Speaking on the occasion, the COAS said Pakistan Army was fully configured, prepared and determined to defend honour, dignity and territorial integrity of motherland at all cost.

“Kashmir is jugular vein of Pakistan and no compromise shall be made which denies right of self-determination to our brave Kashmiri brethren,” the press release quoted the COAS as having told the conference.

SEMINAR ON ECONOMY

COAS Qamar Javed Bajwa the other day hosted a seminar on ‘Interplay of economy and security’ at Army Auditorium, affording an opportunity to country’s leading businessmen and the government’s economic team to discuss the ways to arrest the economic slowdown.

Speaking on the occasion, the army chief said that national security is intimately linked to economy while prosperity is function of balance in security needs and economic growth. He apprised the participants about improved internal security environment of the country which has provided space for increased economic activity.

COAS said that accessibility and responsiveness of govt economic team to business community and displayed understanding between public and private institutions is a good sign for intended positive trajectory in economic activity.

According to an official handout, General Bajwa said that aim of various discussions and seminars was to bring stakeholders at one platform to formulate recommendations for a synergistic way forward.

Government economic team apprised the business community about the initiatives being introduced by them to facilitate businesses, and the encouraging results of stabilisation efforts on national economy.

Businessmen shared their suggestions with the govt team to further improve environment for ease of doing businesses and assured that they will cooperate in implementation of govt reforms and also play their part by paying taxes and investing in a socially and economically responsible manner.

The army chief thanked all participants for purposeful utilisation of the joint forum by the stakeholders for discussions and stressed the need for follow up seminars that could help in policy formulation and provide recommendations for subsequent processes and implementation.

The government’s economic wizards including Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr Abul Hafeez Shaikh, Federal Minister for Economic Affairs Hammad Azhar and Federal Board of Revenue Chairman Shabbar Zaidi attended the meeting.

It was learnt that the leading businessmen, who attended the seminar used the opportunity to express their concerns about the worsening economic situation of the country.

Reposing confidence in the COAS, they complained of the dismal economic situation, recorded protest against the economic policies of the incumbent government, and sought resolution of their problems.

A leading trader said the meeting with COAS was positive as “we were given chance to express over viewpoint”. “Economic situation is very dismal, as inflation and unemployment are increasing due to the economic policies of the government,” he said. He quoted the ministers as rejecting the impression that government is working on International Monetary Fund (IMF)’s dictation. They were of the view that government was pursuing its own economic policies, which had stabilized the economy.

The government’s side informed the meeting that government had successfully controlled the current account deficit, which was major threat for the economy.

Similarly, tax collection is first quarter has also recorded healthy growth. “They (Ministers) assured us that situation will improve in next few months,” the trader concluded.

The businessmen however expressed their concerns and informed the COAS that businesses were shutting down in the country because of the economic policies of the government.

They demanded that government should resolve the traders’ issues to save their business; otherwise the factories and manufacturing units would be shut leaving countless labourers unemployed. They also complained about increasing cost of doing business.

The independent economists believe that country’s economy is set to face a recession due to the government policies. Notable economist and former secretary finance Dr Waqar Masood has said that economy is going into recession in next few months.

The production, exports and growth are declining, which would result in increase in unemployment and poverty. The growth of Large Scale Manufacturing (LSM) had recorded negative growth of 3.3 percent in July, which showed that production of key industries had fallen.

“This recession is serious. It is the result of policies pursued in the last 14 months. Even before the (IMF) Fund programme was put in place, unprecedented adjustments in exchange rate and interest rates were effected,” Masood said.

“A 24 percent devaluation and near doubling of the interest rate were too steep to allow a soft landing. Consequently, growth nose-dived to 3.3 percent (which is still over-estimated as the subsequent data after April 2019 suggests) from 5.5 percent a year earlier; LSM contracted by 3.3 percent and agriculture was also down as far as major crops were concerned,” he added.

Another economist, who is working with government’s economic advisory council, said on the condition of anonymity that businessmen have no confidence in government’s economic team. He also feared that economic situation is slowing down, which force the top business community to approach COAS.

A businessman, who attended the meeting, informed The Nation that they have expressed their reservations over the slowdown in economy due to the economic policies of the government. The cost of production had increased, which was discouraging investment in the country.

He said that government’s policy of increasing interest rate and depreciating local currency has not helped in achieving the results, as inflation is rising while exports are not picking momentum.

“The government’s policies are resulting in decline in production of big industries, as the large scale manufacturing is recording negative growth from last few months,” he added.

He wondered how the government would increase the tax collection when the economic activities are sluggish. He said some representative of the business community have also expressed their concerns over the CNIC condition.