–ISPR DG says those alleging Pakistan Army of rigging polls failed to produce supporting evidence
–Says army has no role in accountability or anti-corruption drive, will work to strengthen democracy
–Maj Gen Ghafoor says previous govt approved Saudi employment for ex-COAS Raheel Sharif, army not supporting Musharraf
–Pakistan will launch 10 surgical strikes if India carries out even one against country
The July 25, 2018 polls were the freest and fairest elections in Pakistan’s history, and the armed forces made it possible for the people to exercise their right to vote, Pakistan Army said Saturday.
Talking to journalists in London, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General Asif Ghafoor said that Pakistan witnessed a record voter turnout in the 2018 elections.
The military spokesman stressed that allegations of rigging had been made, but no evidence had been brought forward in this regard.
‘NO ROLE IN ACCOUNTABILITY’:
Major General Ghafoor also said that the armed forces have no role in the accountability process and anti-corruption drive.
“We have our hands full on the eastern and western border. The army is having to maintain the security of the country. Army has its own stringent mechanism of accountability and it’s the most robust and toughest. It happens at various levels and no one is above accountability,” he said.
He stressed that the army believes that democracy is the only way forward and as an institution, Pakistan Army has provided full support to democratic institutions.
“We will work to make sure that democracy continues in Pakistan,” he said. “Whenever the army chief talks to any foreign dignitary, we talk about Pakistan and not about the army.”
The army spokesperson called on all institutions to stand by each other and work together. “Army always stands by institutions, not with individuals.”
On the previous Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government, the army spokesperson said their leadership listened to each and every demand of the Pakistan Army and provided funds for the war against terrorism and fence on the porous Pak-Afghan border.
“The PML-N government approved the operation against militancy and fully cooperated. We cannot allow a porous border. The barricade is not meant to be a divide between the two countries.”
The spokesman added that in Pakistan there was freedom of expression, but the media faced pressures related to the economy. He was of the view that the international media should highlight positive stories about Pakistan, opining that a lot of negativity is shared about the war-torn country.
“A case in point is FATA reforms. We have not seen any objective story in the western press about this, but reports keep coming up on alleged human rights violations,” he said.
Maj Gen Ghafoor believed that a thriving democracy was a result of peaceful coexistence. “The beauty of democracy is that political differences exist. Pakistan has the same but differences should be ethical and without abuses and attacks. Through the power of vote first, the PML-N governed, then the PTI and in the future, it will be someone else,” he said.
He lamented that it was unfortunate that the army had been dragged in some matters. “Pakistan Army is an organised institution. We have to strengthen all institutions including the police and bureaucracy.”
Citing the example of the UK, the ISPR DG stressed that police was more powerful than the army and the same could happen in Pakistan as well. He said, “The army can fight terrorists but this is the job of the police and our army has been doing the job of the police for many years.”
Police and judicial reforms are important and it was the government’s responsibility to bring reforms and legislation, he suggested.
‘NO LINK WITH MUSHARRAF’:
While commenting on his “the year of change” tweet, he said this was taken out of context. He informed reporters that former army chief Gen (r) Raheel Sharif was in Saudi Arabia on a contract approved by the government. He said ex-president Gen (r) Pervez Musharraf was out of Pakistan because he came into politics.
“He [Musharraf] is a retired army general and the army has nothing to do with his politics. We have no linkage with ex-president Musharraf regarding his politics.”
The ISPR DG dispelled impressions that seven former army generals were outside of Pakistan, telling reporters that only Sharif and Musharraf were outside, while others including Kayani, Kakar and Karamat were living in the country.
ON INDIAN ‘SURGICAL STRIKE’:
The army spokesperson said that Pakistan will launch 10 if India carries out one surgical strike. He categorically stated that the surgical strike is a myth and India was running lies to discredit Pakistan. “We have the power to retaliate within 10 minutes if any adventure is carried out. There should be no doubt about that,” he asserted.
He said that the freedom movement of Kashmiris is indigenous and does not have external support.
“Independence of Kashmir is in the DNA of Kashmiris … the movement for freedom is completely independent, India knows it well that there is no interference from Pakistan, Kashmiris are fighting for the war of their survival and India knows … They are freedom fighters and not terrorists,” he added.
Commenting on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the ISPR DG said that the project will strengthen country’s economy and it is the responsibility of the armed forces to provide security to the project.
Maj Gen Ghafoor went on to say that today’s Pakistan is better than yesterday’s Pakistan, adding: “We are heading towards better days.”
He emphasised Pakistan’s success in the war against terrorism. “We are the only success story in the Muslim world in terms of what we have achieved. 76,000 people have laid down their lives for peace and stability in Pakistan,” he said.
The military spokesman stated that due to the war against terrorism, the systems had eroded. “We need to correct those systems and in the last five years those systems have started working well.”
On Karachi, he said terrorism and crime rate were diminishing in the Sindh’s capital. “There used to be 2-3 blasts a day, but it has been peaceful. Karachi has come down in the crime index. Our bureaucracy and others have worked together,” he responded to a question.
The DG ISPR said that Pakistan has no issue with the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) but there are concerns about the way it’s operating and the message it is trying to portray to mislead Pakistanis. He said that the PTM leader Manzoor Pashteen was a Pakistani who studied at an army school and at no point, the army has said anything against him.
“The issue is wider and beyond any individual. Pakistan Army has made unprecedented sacrifices in FATA and other areas, coming to the area and clearing it of terrorists who had made these areas havens of terrorism against Pakistan. We cannot forget that it’s in these areas that Pakistanis and its armed forces were attacked and football played with the remains of the deceased. Where were all those people then when terror was being unleashed from these areas?” he asked.
The army spokesperson went on the say that the “our enemies are doing their best to sow seeds of discord amongst Pakistanis. We understand that Manzoor Pashteen has no power to organise these protests abroad but we do know who is behind these protests and the sources of funding.”