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Pakistan always talked about peace with India: DG ISPR

03 January, 2019

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Islamabad: ISPR Director-General Major General Asif Ghafoor has urged India to change its aggressive approach in the region. In a TV interview broadcast by ARY News, the latter said that India has seen the result of going to war with Pakistan.

Major-General Ghafoor said Pakistan and India had a 70-year-old history in which Pakistan always talked about peace.

“We have told India a number of times that we want to progress towards peace but India has always showed aggression. Let me make this clear, if India resorts to a war with Pakistan, then we are ready to respond to it,” he said.

He reiterated the army’s claim that India has never carried out any surgical strikes in Pakistani territory. “The Indian government hasn’t given the proofs of surgical strikes to even its own people”, he said.

On the the country’s war against terrorism, he said that Pakistan has come a long way since the start of Operation Sherdil in 2008, adding that it had been two years since the Operation Radd-ul-Fasad was launched in the country. The ISPR DG said the operation was aimed at ensuring the rule of constitution and law in the country.

He said more than 75,000 secret operations were carried out throughout the country in the last two years in which more than 35,000 illegal weapons were recovered.

Talking about the fallout of military operations that resulted in the displacement of thousands of people from erstwhile Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), the military’s spokesperson said that the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA had borne the brunt of terrorism, and given up their properties to live in camps so that military operations could be carried out. He maintained that the grievances of Internally-Displaced Persons (IDPs) had been resolved, saying that now there was a need to provide the IDPs with education and livelihood opportunities.

About the demands of the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM), he said the military had no objection to PTM’s fair demands, however, he didn’t specify if there were any particular demand that the military deemed unfair. Rights activists and independent observers have time and again endorsed all of PTM demands as being within the ambit of the country’s constitution. Recently, at a political rally in Garhi Khuda Bux, PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari had criticised the authorities in Islamabad for what he said were attempts to corner the movement.

Further in the TV interview, the ISPR DG said the border with Afghanistan was 2,611 kilometres long and one of the objectives of the Operation Radd-ul-Fasad was to fence the border.

He said that no country could wish for peace in Afghanistan more than Pakistan because a peaceful Afghanistan meant a peaceful Pakistan.

“Only a coalition government in Afghanistan can ensure peace,” he said, adding that development works in Afghanistan should remain in progress even after the United States exits the war-torn country.

Dismissing the impressions in some quarters that defence budget or government land was being used in Pakistan Army’s welfare projects, he said that such claims were untrue and not a single penny from these sources was used in welfare projects run by Pakistan Army.

“A big chunk from the defence budget goes back to the government in the form of taxes, even the welfare organisations of the Pakistan Army pay their taxes,” he said.

“The Pakistan Army meets its necessities while remaining within the budget allocated to it, and no allocation of the Shuhada Package is used for the armed forces but the families of the army’s martyrs”, he said.

Recounting the performance of military courts since their latest inception in 2015, he said that so far, 717 cases were referred to the military courts, out of which 646 cases had been decided.

“The military courts have awarded 345 convicts death sentences while 296 have been handed various sentences”, he said.

“The extension granted to the military courts is ending soon; the government has to decide whether it wants to extend their tenure or not”, he said.

Rubbishing the allegations levelled against Army for meddling in the elections, he said that the elections were a national activity which always brought change, and the Pakistan Army had no interference in the election process.

“In recent years, the democratic system has enjoyed army’s support more than any point in the past; we wish to see political stability in the country because it results in the ultimate progress of the country”, he said.

Major General Asif Ghafoor, the spokesman for Pakistani military, said “India always opted for an escape route from [bilateral] talks,” noting that problems would not be resolved by issuing threats of a war.

He said the new war is for progress, against ignorance, and for health, education and employment.

Speaking about situation in Afghanistan, the DG ISPR said Pakistan wants development to continue in Afghanistan after United States’ pull-out from there.

“If there would be peace in Afghanistan, then Pakistan would also be peaceful,” he said.

Asked about on-duty Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav who has been held by Pakistan, he said the International Court of Justice was to conduct a hearing of the case in some time.

The Pakistani military spokesman said that Jadhav’s mercy plea was pending with Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

Commenting on elections in the country, Major General Ghafoor said polls are a national activity that does bring a change and the military has nothing to do with it. He, however, maintained that Pakistan would only prosper in the presence of democracy and political stability.

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