Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Monday said a military chief has the right to discuss or comment on the economic condition of the country.

He was making comment on the recent controversy which started following Gen Qamar Bajwa’s remarks during a seminar on economy.

Abbasi, while giving an interview to Aaj TV, clarified that there was no tension in the civil-military relationship.

“The army chief has expressed his opinion. He went to address an economic forum, everyone does that,” the Prime Minister said.

Last week, army chief Gen Bajwa has said that the army was keenly watching developments in the country’s economy and shares some of the apprehensions being voiced about it.

“Growth has picked up but the debts are sky high. (The situation regarding) infrastructure and energy have improved considerably but the current account balance is not in our favour,” the army chief was quoted as saying by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).

The ISPR chief Asif Ghafoor later said that “the country’s economic health, if not worse, was not good either”. This draw a strong response from Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal urged Ghafoor to refrain from making comments on the national economy.

“Such irresponsible statements can dent Pakistan’s global image,” the minister had said.

Responding to criticism of Gen Bajwa’s comment on the economy, the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) also jumped in and said that the military could not remain indifferent to deteriorating economic situation of the country.

The Primie Minister said, “The economic indicators are very transparent. World Bank’s report is not too favourable but The Economist has placed Pakistan in world’s five growing economies.”