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Pakistan Army chief gets more powers: Appointed member of National Development Council

By Anuj Cariappa

Islamabad, June 19: In a move that would further expand the powerful Pakistani military's influence, army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa has been made a member of the newly-formed National Development Council headed by Prime Minister Imran Khan, the media reported.

The Express Tribune, quoting a notification issued by the Cabinet Division, reported that the 13-member council set up by Prime Minister Khan will also include the foreign minister and advisor on finance.

General Qamar Javed Bajwa

The cash-strapped Pakistan government is seeking financial bailout packages from global multilateral lenders like the IMF and the World Bank to tide over a ballooning balance-of-payments crisis that threatens to cripple its economy.

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The powerful army, which has ruled Pakistan for more than half of its 70 plus years of existence, has hitherto wielded considerable power in the matters of security and foreign policy. But now, the military will play greater role in economic matters of Pakistan as the Khan-led government grapples with serious financial woes.

Prime minister Khan was widely seen as the Pakistan Army's favoured candidate in the 2018 general election.

The National Development Council (NDC) will aim at setting policies and strategies for development and provide guidelines for regional cooperation, according to the notification.

It will also provide measures for local coordination and provincial chief ministers will also be invited to the council's meetings.

In addition, members of the council will be tasked to formulate and tailor policies to achieve accelerated economic growth, approve long-term planning for national and regional connectivity.

Pakistan Army is already backing the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a series of infrastructure projects that are currently under construction throughout Pakistan that would connect China's Xinjiang province with the Arabian Sea via Gwadar port in Pakistan.

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On Monday, the Commander Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) General Han Weiguo, visited the headquarters of the Pakistan Army in Rawalpindi and met General Bajwa.

According to Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the media wing of the military, during the meeting, both leaders discussed matters related to regional security and professional interest.

The Chinese commander lauded the role of Pakistan Army in the war against terrorism and continued efforts for regional peace and stability, said a press release by ISPR.

Bajwa reaffirmed Pakistan Army's unwavering support for CPEC security, the ISPR said.

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