–Pakistan Army says ‘ready for war but wants to walk path of peace’ after Indian army chief threatens ‘painful retaliation’
–ISPR DG rejects India’s claim that BSF soldier’s body was mutilated by Pakistan Army, says talks offer still open for New Delhi
RAWALPINDI: Pakistan Army on Saturday warned India that the nuclear-armed country is capable of defending its borders if a war is waged on it, moments after Indian Army chief General Bipin Rawat made inflammatory remarks against Pakistan.
“We [Pakistan Army] are ready for war but choose to walk the path of peace in the interest of the people of Pakistan, the neighbours and the region,” Major General Asif Ghafoor, director general of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), said in reaction to Gen Rawat’s comments.
While addressing the Indian media, the Indian army chief said, “We need to take stern action to avenge the barbarism that terrorists and the Pakistan Army have been carrying out. Yes, it’s time to give it back to them in the same coin, not resorting to similar kind of barbarism. But I think the other side must also feel the same pain.”
On questions of talks with Pakistan, Gen Rawat reiterated the government’s stand that “talks and terrorism cannot go together”.
“I think our government’s policy has been quite clear and concise. We’ve made no bones about the fact that talks and terrorism can’t go hand in hand. Pakistan needs to curb the menace of terrorism,” Gen Rawat added.
Reacting to the “surprise action” warning of the Indian army chief, the ISPR DG said: “India should not disturb the peace process”, terming Gen Rawat’s statement “irresponsible”.
Gen Ghafoor said Pakistan has a long-standing record of fighting terrorism, adding “we know the price [that is paid] for peace”.
“We have struggled to achieve peace in the last two decades. We can never do anything to disgrace any soldier,” he asserted, strongly denying the claims made by India that hold the Pakistan Army responsible for the killing of a Border Security Force (BSF) soldier.
“They have in the past as well laid the blame on us for mutilating the body of a fallen soldier. We are a professional army. We never engage in such acts.
“As far as the issuance of postal tickets is concerned, the UN released a human rights violation report following which the then interim government issued those tickets highlighting the plight of Kashmiris.
“To turn this into an excuse that the peace process has been tainted or that Pakistan has somehow changed its stance, is inappropriate,” the ISPR chief said.
“There is a freedom struggle going on in the Indian occupied Kashmir, and Burhan Wani onwards, it is completely a political movement,” Ghafoor said, adding that the struggle for independence has become a part of the DNA of Kashmiris and this is now the third generation which is willing to sacrifice their lives for the cause.
“They [India] should come forward for a dialogue. Whenever attempts for dialogue have failed, it is because India has run away from the table.
“The government of Pakistan’s offer still stands for India to come forward and hold talks with us,” the ISPR chief said.
Moreover, Gen Ghafoor reasoned that India was resorting to such statements as it faced domestic issues, including the corruption allegations on the Modi government.
Gen Rawat’s comments came shortly after Prime Minister Imran Khan took to Twitter earlier on Saturday to respond to India’s cancellation of the meeting between the Pakistani and Indian foreign ministers on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), calling New Delhi’s reaction “arrogant and negative”.
“All my life I have come across small men occupying big offices who do not have the vision to see the larger picture,” added PM Khan.
PM Khan had earlier written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressing his desire for talks between the two countries and also suggested a meeting between the foreign ministers of the two countries.
On Friday, the Indian government cancelled a meeting between the Pakistani and Indian foreign ministers, scheduled to be held on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, just a day after confirming the development.
‘INDIA TRYING TO DIVERT ATTENTION’:
Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry also promptly issued a response, backing the DG ISPR’s statement.
“Pakistan and India are nuclear powers; a war is out of question,” he said.
The information minister termed the Indian army chief’s statement an attempt to divert the attention of Indian public from the mega corruption scandal and the subsequent calls for resignation faced by PM Modi-led BJP government.
Chaudhry said that the Indian army chief’s statement was inappropriate and that the general must refrain from using statements as a political tool.
“The Indian army chief needs to understand that he is not a BJP leader,” Chaudhry remarked, adding that “the world stands witness to who wants war and who wants peace”.
“As a peace-loving nation, Pakistan desires peace [with India],” he stressed, highlighting the fact that peace will be in the benefit of billions across both nations.
He said that Pakistan had reached out in hopes for peace and will continue its efforts to that end.