Says we need a comprehensive effort to pursue NAP & remove vulnerabilities well before they turn into threats
Says many of the planned measures, if implemented timely, will contribute directly to economic & even political stability of the country
Says we have also expressed & demonstrated our genuine desire to have normal & peaceful relations with India; however, it takes two to tango
KARACHI, Oct 11 (SABAH): Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa has said that we have a much improved security situation on the internal front. He said the challenges to the state’s writ have been defeated, though residual threat still resides. The situation is stable but there is apparent fragility at places. “Therefore, we need a comprehensive effort to pursue National Action Plan and remove vulnerabilities well before they turn into threats” he said. “Many of the planned measures, if implemented timely, will contribute directly to the economic & even political stability of the country” he said.
This was stated by General Qamar Javed Bajwa while addressing the “Seminar on Interplay of Economy & Security” held in collaboration with FPCCI in Karachi on Wednesday. “We have also expressed and demonstrated our genuine desire to have normal and peaceful relations with India; however, it takes two to tango” he said. He said Karachi, the economic capital of Pakistan, generates a significant part of our revenue. “When our enemies want to choke Pakistan, they try to destabilize Karachi because when Karachi bleeds, Pakistan bleeds” he said. COAS said
“Today, Pakistan is a strategically challenged state. External actors are attempting to assert control and dictate our security priorities that have strong linkages with our economic future”. “The centerpiece of this effort is China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)” he said. “I want to use this opportunity to earnestly convey to our neighbours to the East and to the West that our destinies are inextricably linked” he said.
General Qamar Javed Bajwa said “I am really honoured to be here today amongst the most learned and vibrant community of Pakistan”. “I commend efforts of the organizers for organizing this seminar on such an important topic. I must appreciate the quality of papers presented here and hope that their conclusions will resonate through all the concerned quarters in both economic as well as in security domains” he said.
COAS said “As I often tell my friends that the first page I see in a newspaper after the headlines; is that of “business and economy” as economy touches almost all aspects of our life”.
“Rather, it would not be wrong to say that economy is reflection of quality of our life. It reflects the wealth of a nation, but in doing so, it also indicates the nation’s health, including the strength of its institutions and the trust of its people” he said.
General Qamar Bajwa said “There was a time at the end of the cold war, when it became fashionable to say that human civilization had come to a point where the cold logic of economic interests alone would dictate national security”.
He said “Unfortunately, that is no more relevant now, as in the last two decades or so, we have seen reappearance of age old fault lines and reassertion of ancient parochial passions of race, language, religion and identity hence security has once again, become the foremost business and task of the state”.
He said “Today, security and economy are interlinked. Erstwhile USSR had no dearth of armoured divisions but it broke up due to weak economic base. Similarly, rich countries without corresponding security apparatus, may invite aggression from others, Kuwait is a good example”.
COAS said “All nations today are reviewing the old dilemma of “Guns versus Butter”, that is; how to achieve a balance between economic viability and national security. Countries like Pakistan never had the luxury of such a review. We live in one of the most volatile regions of the world, dealing with multiple crises since inception, but increasingly so during the last four decades”.
“Therefore, we must be able to evolve on the way. We have to continuously ensure a viable balance between economy and security. Only then will we arrive at a future that ensures sustained peace and happiness for our people” he said.
General Bajwa said “Let me first talk on security – National security today, is a wide ranging subject. Leaders across the world understand clearly that security is the product of an interplay of factors that encompass the political, economic, military, social, human and environmental facets. That makes security a very complex issue. As the Army Chief, I am primarily responsible for the military security including its external and internal dimensions. However, it would be naive of me to talk of uni-dimensional security without first understanding the effects of all the aforementioned factors”
He said Police and judicial reforms are obvious examples, adding that Madrassah reforms are also vital – We cannot afford to leave a large segment of our youth with limited options – Madrassahs must enable their students to become useful members of the society who are not left behind in any field of life.
COAS said “Now few words about our external front which continues to remain in a flux. With a belligerent India on our East and an unstable Afghanistan on our West, the region remains captive due to historical baggage and negative competition. But on our part, we are making a deliberate and concerted effort to pacify the western border through a multitude of diplomatic, military and economic initiative, not to mention the phenomenal boost to human security that we have provided in FATA and surrounding areas. In fact, what we have done in FATA and started in Balochistan could easily be termed as the best example of a holistic approach to security. We have also expressed and demonstrated our genuine desire to have normal and peaceful relations with India; however, it takes two to tango”.
He said due to dedication and sustained hard work of Army and other LEAs, slowly and gradually, the improvements in security environment have started to pay off. We have had mega events in the country in the fields of sports and culture this year. Recently, we not only had the most peaceful Muharram in years but the Bohra community validated our claim of improved security by selecting Pakistan for their annual gathering. Similarly, early harvest projects, both CPEC and non CPEC, are nearing completion; with Pakistan Army providing security to our Chinese friends, he said.
COAS said “But there’s still a long way to go. The economy is showing mixed indicators. Growth has picked up but the debts are sky high. Infrastructure and energy have improved considerably but the current account balance is not in our favour. Our tax to GDP ratio is abysmally low and this needs to change if we are to break the begging bowl. At the same time, the common man across Pakistan needs reassurance of benevolent and equal treatment from the State in return”.
General Bajwa said “If I were a statesman or an economist, I would say that this is high time for us to place economic growth and sustainability at the highest priority. Let me share with you that during National Security Council meetings, economy remains one of our highest concerns. But in order to secure our future, we must be ready to take difficult decisions. We have to increase our tax base, bring in fiscal discipline and ensure continuity of economic policies”.
He said at the micro level, nothing exemplifies the linkage between economy and security better than the city of Karachi itself. He said Karachi, the economic capital of Pakistan generates a significant part of our revenue. “When our enemies want to choke Pakistan, they try to destabilize Karachi because when Karachi bleeds, Pakistan bleeds. It is because of this sensitivity, that peace in Karachi has been our top priority” COAS said. He said “We have worked very hard to restore peace and now hope that economic activity would return at a fast pace, Insha Allah”.
However, in order to maintain sustainable growth and progress, we must ensure law and order in the entire country, he said.
At the macro level, this relationship between security and economy is intricate, and therefore solutions are more complex, he said. Today, Pakistan is a strategically challenged state. External actors are attempting to assert control and dictate our security priorities that have strong linkages with our economic future. The centerpiece of this effort is China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), he said.
This corridor is not just a collection of infrastructure and power projects – it is in fact a complete development platform that has the potential to act as a powerful springboard for shared development in the entire CASA (Central Asia-South Asia) region, General Bajwa said.
However, the completion of the project and, more importantly, optimization of its socio-economic dividend for Pakistan and the region hinges on one word: “security”, he said.
COAS said “This is the future of our people, a vital national interest on which we will never compromise, regardless of the loudness of opposing voices. It is also an example of regional cooperation and a break from politics of confrontation – we want all to benefit from this project”.
He said our region in general and the immediate neighbourhood in particular has failed to take off due to peculiar security challenges. “I sincerely believe that the region will sink or sail together – that is how it has played out across the world” he said.
“I want to use this opportunity to earnestly convey to our neighbours to the East and to the West that our destinies are inextricably linked” he said. However, unfortunately, until the current environment of mutual distrust is eliminated, we cannot possibly imagine our nations rising together into enduring peace and socio-economic development. Peace and stability is in the interest of all and we must strive for it, COAS said.
General Bajwa said Pakistan is capable of creating sufficient fiscal space to address underlying structural problems through tax reforms, documenting economy, diversifying the export base, and encouraging savings to finance a level of investment that could sustain growth rate higher than the rise of population
“But this is not all, we have to rise together. We have to ensure that Balochistan, Interior Sindh, FATA, Southern Punjab and GB also join us on the trajectory of growth and then move forward. It is with this integrated approach, that we will fulfill the vision of Quaid” he said.
COAS said this vision of integrated economic growth across Pakistan and across the region is noble, but it also needs to be secured.
He said “In today’s world, security does not come cheap. It is dependent upon economic prowess. It is here that our entrepreneurs must contribute by producing and exporting more”. “We have done our part on the security front, now it is up to you to take initiative and turn the economy around” he said.
He said “the task at hand is difficult, but we have done it before. In the 60s, we were among the economic leaders in Asia. The seventies brought trouble that tested the very fibre of our nationhood. We have fought hard to stay afloat ever since. We are just finding our feet with improved security. We need to start afresh on the economic front as well”.
“If any nation can survive what we went through, it can also make its mark when the going is relatively easier” he said. Pakistan will go ahead, ladies and gentlemen! Question is; will you be contributors or bystanders to this great nation’s march to glory?
He said “Karachi, InShaAllah will remain safe and sound, I assure you, so the ball is in your court now”.
“In the end, I would like to once again thank the organizers for holding this seminar on such an important topic” General Bajwa said. “I hope the debate generated today will not end here and will instead become part of the wider national and regional discourse” he said.
“The need for realization of and respect for this security-economic connect was never as great as it is today” COAS said.
Meanwhile Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed addressing seminar said that crafting a new narrative is a way forward. He further said that we need a collective approach. There should be zero tolerance for corruption.
Dr Ishrat Hussain, former president state bank of Pakistan delivered a talk on “economy of Pakistan past and future”. While speaking he discussed three possible scenarios which are optimistic, pessimistic and emerging through. He highlighted the wastage of civil resources. Anything new is glamorous and attractive but because of poor maintenance and indifference operation of existing policies brings lots of losses in the country. CPEC is a good strategic option for progress.
Dr Ashfaq Hassan while speaking on CPEC said that leadership, policy and reforms will determine the size of the benefits Pakistan will get from the CPEC. China wants to relocate its industries in Pakistan. He further said that serious efforts are required for the betterment of our higher education. He was critical of absence of seriousness to share details of CPEC with public or at least the stakeholders. He also rejected apprehensions of China becoming East India Company and claims of CPEC passing through disputed territory referring to this of KKH and Mangla Dam.
Dr Farrukh Saleem talked about threats to economic security within national security matrix. He highlighted threats to economic security. He concluded with help of data logics that Pakistan needs to focus on economic growth capitalizing on improved security environment. Pakistan has everything; the only thing we lack is leadership.
Dr Aynul Hassan while talking on Asia’s transition into the 21 century presented comparisons of Pakistan’s economy with rest of the Asian countries. He also discussed imp role played by Traditional economic theories in economic well being of countries. Social sector investment is a long term and continuous proposition.
Zubair Tufail, Chairman Federation of Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry while talking in a highlighted the role of Federation of Pakistan Chamber of Commerce in the economy of Pakistan. He Said that if we want to be economically strong than we should follow the footsteps of China in this regard. Private sector, by providing jobs, can play very vital role for the strong economic position of the country. He said that we must also allow the third world countries to invest in Pakistan .He said that we should ask China to open more markets for Pakistan. He lauded the role of Pakistan Army and Rangers for eradicating the menace of terrorism across the country.
Dr Salman Shah while talking on the importance of CPEC and making Pakistan as a global powerhouse said that an economic corridor generally connects regional economic centres in the most efficient and convenient manner. He said that software of CPEC is more important than hardware. China is now the world’s largest economy. China can be a big source of investment capital, technology and know how for Pakistan economic progress. We should learn from China how to manage and maintain economy. CPEC creates economic and trade connectivity within Pakistan, he said.