WASHINGTON: Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal has said he “respects every soldier” and is “proud of the Pakistan Army” for carrying out the anti-terror operation, Radd-ul-Fasaad.
“I am proud that the Pakistan Army is carrying out Radd-ul-Fasaad Operation [Elimination of Discord]… and the government is providing funds for the countrywide anti-terror operation from the national exchequer,” the interior minister said hours before flying back to the country from the United States visit.
The interior minister’s further explanation came following the backlash over his recent comments in which he had advised army to refrain from commenting on country’s economy.
Inter-Services Public Relations DG Major Gen Ghafoor’s, in an interview on a private TV channel, had said: “If the economy is not bad, it is not doing so well either.”
On October 11, Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa had voiced concerns at the country’s ‘sky high’ debt and called for broadening the tax base and bringing in financial discipline to break the ‘begging bowl’.
Ahsan Iqbal, referring to his earlier remarks, said: “I didn’t mean to hurt anyone. I respect every soldier of Pakistan.”
A day earlier, Ahsan had tried to pacify the situation by saying that his criticism of the DG’s comments on the economy was meant to point out that every department had its own jurisdiction and was not “confrontational”.
ISPR DG Gen Ghafoor had expressed his disappointment at the reprimand.
“I was disappointed as a soldier and a citizen of Pakistan. We conducted a seminar with the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI). There were three former finance ministers, one former State Bank governor [in attendance]. The army chief gave a keynote address. I talked about it in my beeper [to a private TV channel] as well,” he had said, adding that he had only spoken about issues that the army chief had also talked about.