Monday June 17, 2024

NSC briefed on security, economic challenges

The National Security Committee maintained that there would be no compromise on the national interest and the terrorists challenging Pakistan would be responded to with full might

By Mehtab Haider & Muhammad Anis
December 31, 2022
PM Shehbaz chairing the National Security Committee meeting in islamabad on December 30, 2022. PID
PM Shehbaz chairing the National Security Committee meeting in islamabad on December 30, 2022. PID

ISLAMABAD: The National Security Committee (NSC) in its meeting on Friday maintained that there would be no compromise on the national interest and the terrorists challenging Pakistan would be responded to with full might.

The committee will meet again on Monday, January 2 after a two-day break.

Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif chaired the committee meeting.

Defence Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif, Minister for Foreign Affairs Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Minister for Finance Senator Ishaq Dar, Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Sahir Shamshad Mirza, Chief of Army Staff General Syed Asim Munir, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Muhammad Amjad Khan Niazi, Chief of Air Staff Zaheer Ahmad Babar Sidhu and some senior officials attended the meeting.

The meeting pledged that the state of Pakistan won’t compromise on the national interest and would not allow anyone to harm the national security.

The meeting resolved to safeguard the fundamental interests, security and development with utmost courage, consistency and perseverance.

“On Monday, the NSC meeting will take more decisions in the light of proposals put forward today,” a statement issued by the Prime Minister House said.

Paying rich tribute to the supreme sacrifices of martyrs in the fight against terrorism, the forum expressed condolences and commiserated with their families and collectively prayed for the spiritual elevation of the departed souls in the heaven.

The meeting expressed the resolve that the militants were the enemies of Pakistan and that the entire nation was united on one narrative against terrorism and terrorists and those who challenge Pakistan will get response with full might.

Intelligence agencies gave a detailed briefing on the overall situation of peace and security in the country, the factors behind the recent wave of terrorism and the steps taken to curb them.

It was decided that the IMF program would be revived and diplomatic efforts would be used to

secure the support of the US and western allies in a bid to convince the IMF for adopting a lenient attitude towards Pakistan.

“All roads lead to the revival of the IMF program,” said a top official privy to the discussions and added that the government would finalize the required steps by taking tough decisions for paving the way for striking staff-level agreement and accomplishing pending 9th review and release of $1 billion tranche under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF).

For revival of the stalled IMF program, the government will have to unveil additional taxation measures through a presidential ordinance for imposition of flood levy from 1 to 3 percent.

Under the Circular Debt Management Plan (CDMP), the government will have to hike electricity and gas tariffs in order to convince the IMF to revive the IMF programme.

Additional taxation measures have not yet been firmed up, as the government will review the FBR performance first and then decide on the additional burden of taxes. It is a catch-22 situation for the government to slap additional taxes at a time when the economy is heading towards recession in the presence of low growth and higher inflationary pressures.

The worsening macroeconomic fundamentals in the wake of the lowest foreign exchange reserves possessed more risks for multiplying the possibilities of choking the economic activities because the letter of credit (LCs) could not be opened up owing to the persistent dollar liquidity crunch.

The government will ascertain exact taxation measures after reviewing the performance of FBR in the outgoing month.

So far, the FBR has collected Rs710 billion in revenues and it is expected that tax collection would further go up on the last day on December 31, 2022.

The FBR envisaged a tax collection target of Rs965 billion for December 2022 and the FBR might face a shortfall in achieving the desired target.

A finance ministry high-up when contacted said that they had directed the FBR to fetch the desired target so let’s see how much FBR materializes its monthly target.

In the next three months (Jan-March) period of FY2023, Pakistan’s debt servicing requirements will stand at over $8 billion, including deposits of $2 billion from the UAE for which Pakistan will make a request for rollover for another year, $5 billion as principal amount repayment and $462 million as mark-up payments.

Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar apprised the forum about Pakistan’s interaction with the interim Afghan government.

The NSC meeting was convened in the wake of surge in terrorist acts in the country, particularly in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan.

On Wednesday, the Pakistan Army’s top brass resolved to uproot terrorism “without any distinction” as the country battles a fresh wave of insurgency, which has left many soldiers martyred and several others injured.

Earlier this week, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif too reiterated his resolve to uproot terrorism by using all available resources.

The premier said he would take all possible steps to control terrorism in all its forms.

In seven separate blasts across districts in Pakistan’s southwestern province, five soldiers were martyred and more than a dozen others were injured.

Earlier this month, militants also took over a Counter-Terrorism Department’s (CTD) compound in KP’s Bannu area, which was cleared by the Pakistan Army soldiers three days later. However, four soldiers embraced martyrdom and 10 sustained injuries.

It may be pointed out that COAS General Syed Asim Munir also called on Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif at the PM House on Thursday.

The country’s overall security matters with particular reference to the NSC meeting agenda came under discussion during the meeting.