RAWALPINDI: Director General Inter-Services Public Relations (DG ISPR) Major General Asif Ghafoor held a press briefing, calling on the US and Afghanistan to do more.
The military spokesman also spoke about Indian aggression along the Line of Control (LoC).
Major General Ghafoor termed federal minister Khawaja Saad Rafique’s statement about the army irresponsible.
‘Saad Rafique’s statement is irresponsible’
Referring to an earlier statement given by Minister for Railways Khawaja Saad Rafique, Gen Ghafoor said the statement by the minister “doesn’t appear to be unintended”.
“The statement is very irresponsible and unwarranted as you are targeting the chain of command and the subordination system of Pakistan Army,” said the military spokesperson.
Rafique, while addressing a ceremony marking his father’s anniversary earlier, had praised the army chief for briefing the Senate and had said it was a confidence-boosting move for everyone.
The minister had said that there was no difference in the narrative and added that the army chief had talked in favour of democratic norms and continuity.
However, the minister had said others should also support the army chief’s stance on whom “his command is applied to”.
“They should also follow that order,” said Rafique and added that those who do mischief should also support the army chief.
The military spokesman added the Army is a very disciplined and organised institution and “if this discipline and subordination is not present in the Army, it would not be the best in the world”.
“Pakistan Army is an institution which takes pride in its institutional mechanism.”
He further said, referring the minister’s statement that it was taken with concern.
“There are some institutions which are also protected by the Constitution,” adding the statement was in violation of the Constitution.
“If the Army is determined and confident to stay within the bounds of the Constitution, it is the responsibility of every citizen to respect the law and the Constitution and stay within its bounds.”
Rafique on Thursday evening said his statement regarding the Army earlier was presented out of context by certain media channels.
He also said that DG ISPR is a sincere individual and he was saddened by Gen Ghafoor’s statement and added that he plays a silent role for cohesiveness among state institutions.
He further stated that it is not appropriate that out of a 27-minute long speech only a few words are picked and played up and he has never adopted an irresponsible or unconstitutional stance.
The railways minister also said that he has never targetted the subordinate system and can neither think of doing so.
India does not want Pakistan to succeed in war on terror
Major General Asif Ghafoor said India did not want Pakistan to succeed in the war against terrorism and had increased ceasefire violations across the LoC in 2017.
“52 civilians were martyred and 254 injured [in the 1,813 violations],” Maj Gen Ghafoor said.
The military spokesman added that India had falsely claimed on December 25 that their soldiers had entered Pakistan and killed Pakistani soldiers.
The Army spokesman stressed this was false propaganda being created by India for their domestic audience to divert focus from the effective struggle they were facing for Kashmir’s freedom.
“While our political, diplomatic and moral support continues and will continue for the just struggle of our Kashmiri brothers, you cannot lure us into unprofessional undertakings to reinforce your beaten narrative of our physical interference in occupied Kashmir.”
He also added that the “US needs to check the anti-Pakistan Indian role not only from inside Afghanistan but also through the enhanced and increased ceasefire violations along the LoC and working boundary so that we remain focused in our effort for peace not only in Pakistan but beyond the region.”
According to Major General Ghafoor, only engagement based on trust and cooperation will take us forward, not coercion.
‘Pakistan has done enough’
The Army spokesman reiterated that no organised infrastructure of a terrorist organisation exists in Pakistan. His statement was in reference to the unfounded talk by the US and Afghanistan on the presence of terrorist bases in Pakistan.
“We have been saying that Pakistan has fought twice an imposed and imported war inside Pakistan. We have sacrificed a lot. We have paid a huge price both in blood and treasure. We have done enough and we cannot do any more for anyone. Whatever we are doing and shall, will only be done for Pakistan.”
The spokesperson clarified that the Coalition Support Fund, received from the US, is reimbursement of money spent for operations in support of the coalition for regional peace.
“Had we not supported, al-Qaeda would not have been defeated,” the ISPR chief stated.
‘Time for Afghanistan, US to do more’
Commenting on blaming Pakistan for inaction against the Haqqani Network, Ghafoor said: “Blame for inaction against [the] Haqqani Network might have been relevant owing to our capacity issues till Zarb-e-Azb”.
However, he added, the Army went into North Waziristan indiscriminately and took action against the Haqqani Network as well. “The effect of any operation does not appear at that time. What we do today or this year, the impact will be felt in subsequent years and months.”
He further said that if there any facilitators or abettors inside Pakistan that can only be addressed if 2.7 million Afghan refugees are sent back to Afghanistan for which pull factors needed to be created by Kabul and Washington.
According to the spokesperson, Pakistan was contributing in a big way to assist peace in Afghanistan. “To control cross-border movement, we have started to fence 2,611 kilometres of Pak-Afghan border. We have also started construction of additional posts and forts. On the average every 1.5-2 kilometres, we will have a physical presence.”
He added that additional FC wings had been raised to enhance the capacity along the border.
Gen Ghafoor also asked what else could Pakistan do and what more did the US and Afghanistan want. “In fact, it’s the turn and time for Afghanistan and US to do more, rather than asking Pakistan.
“No other country than Pakistan is interested in peace in Afghanistan because we understand that peace in Afghanistan is essential for peace in Pakistan as well.
After the press conference, while answering a question about Pak-US relations, the DG ISPR said: “We are friends and allies. When it comes to the respect of Pakistan and security, we will do whatever is best and do it together as a nation. We do not want any type of confrontation. But state-level statements are one thing and implementation is another.”
Terror incidents averted
Sharing terror incidents averted by intelligence agencies, the ISPR chief said 254 incidents were averted in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA, 177 in Balochistan, 28 in Sindh and 18 in Punjab.
Moreover, sharing statistics, the DG ISPR said the army implemented 768 development and public sector projects.
He added that 96 per cent of temporarily displaced persons have returned to their native areas in the tribal areas.
Terror networks busted
During the detailed press conference, Ghafoor also gave details of major intelligence achievements of the year.
Multiple terror networks were busted by security forces, which included Ansar-ul-Sharia Karachi, TTP’s Lahore and Swabi chapters, JuA’s Kurram chapter and others.
He added that forces also apprehended six suicide bombers and 14 threats were averted.
The ISPR spokesman further stated that during the year, 946 threat warnings were issued, out of which 227 were issued in September and October.
‘No pressure for Jadhav’s meeting with family’
DG ISPR commenting on the recent meeting between Indian spy Kulbhshan Jadhav with this mother and wife, said there was no pressure for this. “If there was pressure, we would have agreed to consular access.”
“A spy who is an established terrorist on humanitarian grounds was given a chance to meet his family, this should have been appreciated. But India will never do that.”
During the question-answer session, he added: “Kulbhushan’s case – we take him as an Indian agent who on Indian orders was working to create instability in Pakistan.”
The spokesperson when asked about Indian allegations of Jadhav’s family being harassed, responded: “The foreign office had informed India that Jadhav’s family would have to go through a security check and the types of checks which would take place.”
Army chief’s message: ‘United we rise’
Towards the end of the press conference, the army spokesperson shared a special message from Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa: As there is an established conglomeration of anti-Pakistan forces (state/non-state) attempting to destabilise and weaken Pakistan, we must continue to present a united front to defeat their nefarious designs.
‘If there’s a conspiracy, they should come up with evidence’
Touching on the internal political situation of the country, he said the Pakistan Army is well aware of the threat and challenges the country is facing. “We do not want to get distracted and aim to take Pakistan towards peace and stability. The army has no response to events in the political domain. If there is a conspiracy [about army’s involvement in politics], they should come up with evidence.”
Pak-Afghan military engagement
The military spokesman said military relations with Afghanistan were not ideal but there had been improvement following the army chief’s visit.
“Pakistan-Afghanistan military to military engagement is important. We cannot call it ideal, but the situation has improved after the army chief’s visit to Kabul.”
‘No rogue elements in Pakistan Army at present’
With regards to the statement of former army chief and president Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf that rogue elements in the establishment may have been behind former premier Benazir Bhutto’s assassination, the army spokesperson said he is the spokesperson for the sitting army chief. “A clarification [in this regard] should be sought from Musharraf. [At present] there cannot be any rogue element in the Pakistan Army,” he said.
‘Khushal Balochistan, Khushal Pakistan’
Gen Ghafoor said the army chief on November 15, in a national security meeting, initiated the Khushal Balochistan Program.
“The prime minister of Pakistan assigned some objectives to the Army, which it was supposed to achieve and gave approval of this program titled Khushal Balochistan.”
He added that the initiative will actually be ‘Khushal Balochistan, Khushal Pakistan’ program.
He further said the initiative is based on four pillars; expediting development projects in the province, security for the development projects, acting against terrorists in the province and to separate the people from foreign agenda.
“If misguided nationalist forces could not succeed in deviating the people of Balochistan, then they should know that they will never be successful.”
He further said that at least 2,000 rebels have rejoined the society.
“We are aware of our enemies on Balochsistan and they should know their time is over.”