The army is subordinate to the Constitution of Pakistan and there’s no threat of a clash among the state institutions, DG Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Maj. Gen. Asif Ghafoor said categorically while addressing a press conference here on Thursday.
He said all the institutions should work together and no individual or institution was important than the motherland. He said no such impression should be given that the army was behind the accountability process and wanted martial law in the country. “Such things should not even be talked about,” he said while responding to a volley of questions.
When told that an impression was being given by a big political group that the army was behind the accountability process, he said the army was doing a difficult task. “We obeyed the orders of Supreme Court and our two representatives became part of the JIT. The army did not produce anything during the process. It is our stand that the process should be carried out by those who have the domain to do so,” he said.
To a question about an amendment to the Election Reforms Bill, 2017 with regard to Khatam-e-Nabuwwat (SAW), he said there could be no compromise on this issue. “Neither the armed forces have compromised on Namoos-e-Risalat (SAW), nor would they compromise on it in future,” he said.
Asked why a press release was not issued following a special corps commanders meeting at the General Headquarters (GHQ), Gen Ghafoor said: “Silence is also an expression.”
Asked about the unpleasant situation outside the accountability court during the production of former prime minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and barring Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal’s entry to the court by the Rangers personnel, he said a small local event should not be seen from the enemy’s narrative. “I just talked about the enemy’s narrative and every institution needs to act in a responsible way when there is any incident.” He said the Rangers were under the Ministry of Interior.
“Three wings of Rangers were requisitioned under Article 147 for security in the capital. Once the requisition has been made, coordination is carried out at the local level between the police, district administration and Rangers,” he explained. “This has been happening since 2014 and the arrangement is refreshed every three months.”
Gen Ghafoor said there’s a verbal coordination between the Rangers, administration and the police on day-to-day basis for an event and it was not necessary that every order should be in written form.
“If a soldier is doing his duty and is told not to allow irrelevant people … [Now] it is possible that someone who is not carrying a [authorised personnel] card is [in fact] a relevant person, but Rangers possible that someone who is not carrying a [authorised personnel] card is [in fact] a relevant person, but Rangers personnel do not know this. Even if the army chief does not have a [security clearance] card [when he arrives at a venue], he is told by [the posted] personnel that he is not allowed [to pass].”
“We need to appreciate the personnel for their [commitment to their] duty,” he said. “There is need to improve coordination and there’s no clash like situation among the state institutions. Once confusion about orders for security measures ended in 10 to 15 minutes, their leader was allowed to go inside,” he said.
Responding to a question about the statement of Nawaz Sharif in which he, while talking about his ouster, referred to the Fall of Dhaka, the DG ISPR said: “If you look back, then there are 70 years. One should look into successes of the last 15 years and improvement in the security situation. If anybody continues looking back, they will continue doing so while hurling blames.” He said no individual was important than the institution and even the army chief was not important than his institution. “We should look forward and work closely with each other,” he said.
“Our western border also meets Iran, and it is important to mention that our deployment is not against Iran or Afghanistan but against non-state actors,” General Ghafoor said. He said the operations conducted in the border areas were not against the people, the state or the armed forces of Iran or Afghanistan, but against the non-state actors.
He explained that some of the troops deployed on the western border, numbering around 200,000, had been sent back to cantonments, as the situation there had improved significantly. He said 100,000 troops were still stationed on the eastern border.
Talking about the visit of army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa to Afghanistan, he said the meeting between Gen Bajwa and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani continued for one and a half hours in a highly pleasant, good and reassured environment.
“You will see that no negative statement came out after the meeting,” he said, adding that an environment of positivity had emerged during the meeting. He said the western border was being fenced while forts and posts had been built and would be strengthened further in the coming years.
However, he pointed out that threats from India were perpetual and that the eastern border was unsafe because of India’s regional hegemony objectives. He maintained that Pakistan did not want a war but if war was imposed, then Pakistan’s armed forces had the right to defend and give a befitting response.
“If they fired one bullet, our troops will respond with five,“ he said while referring to the Indian ceasefire violations at the Line of Control (LoC) and the Working Boundary. He said India had paid the price for its violations, adding that a total of 222 killings were reported including 180 deaths on the Indian side.
“Unlike India, we cannot fire indiscriminately, as there are Kashmiri brothers on the other side, so when there are casualties on that side, it is soldiers and infrastructure. But war is not the solution,” he said, adding that the solution could be if India engages in talks with Pakistan, otherwise it would continue to face consequences.
He said India had indulged in the highest number of ceasefire violations during the year 2017 than in any other year only to divert the world attention from its internal situation and political struggle of Kashmiris in held Kashmir.
He admitted that Pakistan was facing many threats and pressures due to its geographical importance in the region and beyond and the economic interests of some powers. “It has to be seen whether these threats are from state actors or non-state actors.”
He said Pakistan still had to keep troops on the western borders due to strategic reasons, as threats were still there from non-state actors like the TTP.
General Ghafoor pointed out that the Pakistan Army and ISI were the target of enemy narrative that they were not in control of anybody. “There are no other countries like Pakistan, as all other countries that faced such problems either collapsed or had to have foreign armies take control. This is why you will hear the narrative that the Pakistan Army and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) are not in anyone’s control,” he said.
He said there was a need to understand that the anti-Pakistan forces would target the army and ISI which were not allowing their designs to be fulfilled. “If you understand this narrative of enemy, then you will understand as to how much important are the armed forces for the security and independence of a country,” he said, adding that the security wheel played the leading role when there were threats.
“We were and are still relevant to the world, but if our enemies use this relevance negatively and manage to project the army as part of problem and part of solution, then they will succeed in their designs,” he said, adding if the narrative of enemy was accepted by the people, then gains of Pakistan might reverse.
Talking about successes against terrorism, he said no other country had achieved successes like Pakistan in view of internal threats. “Any other country either ceases to exist or has to seek help from any other country,” he said, adding that it should be seen as to how much successes were achieved in the last 15 years by the army with the support of people.
To a question about the RAW agent Kulbhushan Yadav, he said his appeal was with the army chief. “You will hear a news soon,” he said.
Referring to the ongoing operation Raadul Fasaad, General Ghafoor said it was being conducted successfully and intelligence based operations (IBOs) will continue in the country. “There was a huge security risk during Muharram. After many years, Muharram has passed peacefully in Pakistan,” said Ghafoor.
Elaborating further, he said two suicide bombers, along with their handler, were arrested in Karachi while a car bomb was recovered from Quetta. He also spoke of a Bohra community gathering in Karachi which saw 21,000 foreigners participating, including 12,000 Indian citizens and the event was conducted successfully.
Referring to the World XI match and the cricket match in Miranshah, he said both were also conducted successfully and in the coming days, there would be a hockey match in Karachi. “There were thousands of people watching the match in Miramshah and that would not have been possible if there were security threats.”
Responding to a question about the statement of Chairman US Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford that the ISI had links with terrorists, he said the official had not said that the ISI was supporting terrorists adding that there’s a difference between links and threats. “If the link is to defuse threat, then it is for the right thing,” he said.
To a question about the incident of Taleemul Quraan in Rawalpindi, he said the enemy attempted to exploit sectarian differences but failed. He said no local person from any sect was involved in the incident.
“The intelligence agencies and police are carrying out an investigation and I have no updates about it,” he said.
Responding to a question about the Milli Muslim League, the political wing of Jamaatud Dawa, and its participation in the political process, he said: “Every Pakistani has the right to participate in the polling process.”