RAWALPINDI: Pakistan Army on Wednesday termed talks of any deal between the military leadership and self-exiled former prime minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif as baseless speculations.
“I will say these are baseless speculations. Ask this question from those who talk about such things,” Major General Babar Iftikhar, the Director General ISPR while rejecting reports of any deal between military leadership and Nawaz Sharif said. The reports of deal echoed during first briefing of the new year by DG ISPR when he was asked to comment on such speculations from both the government and opposition circles. “In my understanding, there is baseless speculation and I am very clear about that,” he said.
The press conference of the DG ISPR marked the day of January 5, 1949 when the United Nations accepted right to self-determination of Kashmiri people, the promise which was still unfulfilled by the international community.
The DG ISPR told the questioner to ask speculators as to what specific details of deal were and on what evidences or basis they talk about deal. He maintained that it would be more in the national interests less “if less we talk about such things.”
He once again asked media to keep institution of armed forces away from such discussions. “On every evening on televisions, it is said that establishment has done this and that,” he said.
He told the questioner that Alhamdulillah the civil-military relations were not any issue. “I have said it time and again that armed forces are subservient institution to the Pakistan government and act as its directives and there is no more than this,” he said.
He reiterated that they have been saying to media time and again that the armed forces should be kept out of such discussions. “There are other important issues like health, education, population growth, agriculture growth and infrastructure development which should be discussed,” he said.
The military spokesman was also asked to comment whether the COAS General Qamar Javed Bajwa would be given extension in view of his services for giving peace to the country and for supporting democratic system.
“I requested you earlier not to indulge in such discussions and not to talk about such baseless speculations,” he said.
He regretted that an organised campaign was being launched against Pakistan’s some institutions. “The purpose of such propaganda is basically meant to create gulf between the government, institutions and armed forces and shatter confidence of people on these institutions,” he said.
DG ISPR said to tackle such propaganda against institutions, there was a need to handle issues at individual level and then enact laws so that people involved in such propaganda could be taken to task.The DG ISPR was confident that the people from inside the country and sitting outside who target institutions and their personalities through half-truths and fake news, were bound to fail as happened in the past. “The armed forces take their power from people of Pakistan and efforts to create rifts in this relation are bound to fail,” he said.
He, however, maintained that they were not only aware of activities of people targeting institutions and personalities but also knew their linkages.
Giving a year-ender with regard to Operation Raddul Fasad (RuF), the military spokesman said 248 officers and Jawans sacrificed their lives during different operations during the year 2021. “We pay tributes to Shuhada and their families for their sacrifices which helped in restoration of peace in the country,” he said.
Under the RuF, the security forces conducted no less than 60,000 big and small Intelligence Based Operations (IBOs) during the year 2021 while the civil and military, law enforcement and security agencies played key role in busting and rooting out terrorists’ networks. “The intelligence agencies also issued 890 threat alerts which helped in averting many terror incidents during the year 2021,” he said.
To a question, he said he could not tell exact number of terrorists killed during operations but colossal loss of lives was incurred on miscreants while many of them were apprehended. Under the National Action Plan (NAP), he said some effective actions were taken against 78 terrorist groups and individuals.
For capacity enhancement of law enforcement agencies, as many 17,958 personnel of Khasadars and Levies were given special training in three phases.
Talking about self-reliance and enhancing defence capability in view of defence capability, he said that organisations like Pakistan Ordnance Factories, Heavy Industries Taxila and Pakistan Aeronautical Complex accomplished many projects. “These projects not only helped in reducing burden on national exchequer but foreign exchange was also received through export of defence equipment,” Major General Babar Iftikhar said.
He said on return of normalcy in tribal areas of KP province where operations were conducted, as many 831 development projects worth Rs31 billion were started out of which 558 projects of hospitals, educational institutions, markets and communication infrastructure were accomplished during the year 2021.
He further said that all efforts of anti-state elements to sabotage CPEC and other development projects were being foiled and same was being ensured through sacrifices of armed forces. In this connection, he said 93 percent work on 720MW Kerot hydle power project which is part of CPEC had been completed.
Under Balochistan Vision Programme, work on 199 development projects with cost of Rs601 billion was in progress. He said Pakistan’s armed forces despite COVID-19, took part in military exercises with America, Russian, Saudi Arabia, China, Turkey, Egypt, Azerbaijan and Jordan
He further said that 95 de-mining teams were deputed in tribal areas and they recovered 69,000 mines and explosives thus saving many precious lives and while doing so a number of personnel of security forces were martyred and injured.
To a question, the DG ISPR said that keeping in view regional security matrix, Pakistan armed forces have to continuously enhance their capability. “Procurement of J-10C aircraft from China is also an exercise to enhance this capability,” he said.
He said it was also done to enhance capability of the Pakistan Air Force and get the best possible latest technology adding that they also knew that Pakistan’s adversary continues to procure latest equipment on one pretext or the other.
He pointed out that any conventional imbalance in this region is very dangerous. “Our armed forces are ready to take on any threat with whatever equipment they have,” the military spokesman maintained.
Major General Babar Iftikhar told a questioner that ceasefire with Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) ended on December 9 last and talks with them were on hold while operations against them were going on. “It was confidence building measure to start talks with these violent non-state actors on request of the incumbent Afghan government,” he said.
He said the Afghan government gave an option that it would bring TTP on table and make them accept what Pakistan wants saying that it was Pakistan’s pre-requirement after the new government in Afghanistan came into power that Pakistani Taliban would not act from the Afghan soil. “But our conditions are yet to be settled. There were also some problems and conditions which were not negotiable from our side,” he said.
Major General Babar maintained that there was no ceasefire, Pakistan’s security forces were taking TTP terrorist on and would continue operations against them till getting rid of the menace.
To a question about reports of deployment of S-4000 missiles by India near the eastern border, the DG ISPR said that Pakistan’s armed forces were very well aware of what was happening there and had taken required measures. “Do not know about authenticity of deployment but obviously know that they will deploy the same as they have procured the equipment,” he said.
Asked whether there would be any impact of current economic situation and inflation on procurement of defence-related equipment, the military spokesman said there were no two opinions that economy drives every thing but the current challenges are not new. “We did not ask for increase in the last defence budget in terms of increase in inflation,” he said.
Saying that there was no match between defence budget of Pakistan and India but Pakistan armed forces were maintaining the defence capability within the limited resources and were ready to meet any external or internal threats.
He told a questioner that Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa raised issue of humanitarian assistance for Afghan people at every forum and with every delegation which met him.
He said that Pakistan was very clear about the status of Pak-Afghan border. “It is international border recognised internationally. If any misunderstanding arises between Pakistan and Afghanistan government, it will be resolved like other issues,” he said.
In 2021, the DG ISPR said the security situation along the western border remained challenging, he said, adding, “It has local, operational and strategic dynamics that are being addressed off and on at the levels concerned.”
He added that a special operation was being conducted in North Waziristan in 2021 that resulted in restoring complete state writ on the Pakistan and Afghanistan border.
“This area had inaccessible terrain and harsh weather that provided facility of easy trespassing to terrorists across the international border. The hard terrain and tough weather conditions also halted fencing process in this area which has been completed after the completion of the operation,” the DG ISPR said.
He pointed out that the abrupt pull out foreign forces from Afghanistan in August 2021 and the consequent situation had direct impacts on the security of Pakistan. “We are focused and the initiatives under the western border regime will be completed in the stipulated time,” he said.
The border fence across the Pakistan and Afghanistan border was the need of the hour to regulate security, transport and trade, he said. “As per the devised mechanism under the regime regular movement of the masses is going on and it will be further enhanced with the passage of time,” he noted.
He said that Pakistan has over 1,200 security posts whereas there were only 377 security posts on the Afghanistan side of the international border. “So far we have fenced 93 percent of Pak-Afghan and 71 percent of Pak-Iran border,” he said.
Briefing the media over eastern border management, he informed that the Line of Control (LoC) remained peaceful throughout the year 2021 after a contact between the Director Generals of Military Operations (DGMOs) of Pakistan and India in February 2021 to implement the Ceasefire Agreement made in 2003.
The biggest dividend, he said of the ceasefire was that it brought a significant betterment in the lives of the local populace residing along the LoC. But along with that the Indian military leadership measures to create propaganda against the Pakistan Army of carrying out infiltration into Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJ&K) were being made. It was intended to divert the international community’s attention from worst state-sponsored brutalities unleashed on innocent Kashmiris, and systematic demographic changes being made in the IIOJ&K, he added.
“The propaganda and hoax allegations of reported infiltration by Pakistan amid its anti-infiltration grid is humorous and puts a question mark on its so-called security mechanism,” the ISPR DG said.
India, he said at one hand was facing religious extremism and on the other and it was jeopardizing the regional peace amid its never-ending arms race. “It will have negative impacts on the region’s peace and will also disturb the balance of power in conventional warfare,” he warned.
Major General Babar Iftikhar also pointed out that the Indian occupant forces carried out a fake encounter in Keran Sector across Neelum Valley along the LoC and martyred an innocent Kashmiri and blamed Pakistan for perpetrating infiltration in that incident.
He said that Indian media has been projecting false images of an alleged terrorist namely Shabbir in army uniform whereas the same was alive and living in his house in Shardah area of Neelum Valley.
India, he said had always been trying to externalise the indigenous freedom struggle of Kashmiris whereas the genuine Kashmiri leadership and international community were raising their voices against the illegal suppression of Kashmiris legitimate freedom movement.
He said the worst human siege was in place since the illegitimate act of August 5, 2019 of the Indian occupant regime in Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir.
“The findings of the Russell Tribunal on Kashmir took place in Sarajevo from December 17 to 19 are worth-mentioning that focused four key issues of genocide, decolonisation, secular colonialism and Indian war crimes against Kashmiris in IIOJ&K,” he added.
The Tribunal was participated by 15 international judges, and many other experts who categorically mentioned the Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International reports on Indian forces’ human rights abuses in IIOJ&K.
“Today’s day January 5 is very important as the United Nations promised the people of Kashmir their right to self-determination which remains unfulfilled,” he underscored.
Pakistan, he said paid rich tribute to the unwavering courage, and never-ending sacrifices of Kashmiris for their just right of self-determination that was promised by the international community.