Minutes after a press conference hosted by the director general of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) concluded, Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal stressed the need of a "joint voice" to highlight the "positive aspects of the country" before the world.

The message came after the army clarified it was only expressing its concerns and did not mean to destabilise the current political order.

Seeking perhaps to mend fences, Iqbal explained to DawnNews that Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor's earlier comment that "the country's economic health, if not bad, was not good either" had hurt him.

That statement echoed what the army's spokesman had said minutes earlier: "I was disappointed as a soldier and a citizen of Pakistan" at the interior minister's reprimand for commenting on economic matters.

Nonetheless, the interior minister said, the civilian and military leadership should now provide some hope to the nation.

"We need to convert our disappointment into hope," he said.

The minister said the country's economy had been brought back on track thanks to "unity within the country".

"We now need to restore the trust of the world," he added.

'Owning the economy'

"Pakistan's economy is stable," Iqbal had said in a statement on Friday, a day after the ISPR chief expressed that the economy had not been doing spectacularly.

"Irresponsible statements will bring disrepute to the country," Iqbal had added in a statement issued as a reprimand to the ISPR chief.

Responding to the interior minister's criticism, Maj Gen Ghafoor expressed his disappointment on Saturday and clarified the army's position.

"Never did I say that Pakistan's economy has been destroyed or something of that sort," he clarified. "Last year, the taxes recovered were only 39pc, and from private sector the recovery was only 40pc. It is too meagre," he said. "That is all I said — that the tax base needs to be increased — and I stand by it," he concluded.

More importantly, he also stressed that the current political setup needs to be allowed to work and "an established democratic system needs to continue."

"Democracy has nothing to fear from the Pakistan Army," he assured, but warned that the democratic process may flounder if the requisites of a democracy were ignored.

He also voiced the need for unity, saying: "When it comes to Pakistan, the security and survival of Pakistan, we all are one."

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