–ISPR chief backs PM’s peace offer, says ‘battle-hardened forces would provide a military response to India if necessary’
–Ghafoor says India has always tried to destabilise Pakistan whenever it moves towards stability
–Says pension and other benefits of former ISI chief Gen Durrani have been stopped for violating military’s code of conduct
RAWALPINDI: Pakistan Army on Friday tried a put a cap on war hysteria gripping the sub-continent in the aftermath of the Pulwama attack, saying it was not preparing to initiate anything, but it will respond to India in case of aggression.
Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General Major General Asif Ghafoor addressed a press conference at General Headquarters to respond to Indian allegations of Pakistan’s involvement in Kashmir attack that had killed at least 44 paramilitary personnel and the subsequent calls in India for an attack on Pakistan.
Gen Ghafoor said Pakistan Army’s battle-hardened forces would provide a military response that would catch India off guard if and when necessary. “We have defended our country against terrorism […] We are battle-hardened,” he warned.
Explaining Pakistan’s preparations, he said India won’t be able to catch Pakistan off guard as “we studied you for 70 years, watched you, prepared our capability for you. Our response will also be for you”.
“We do not wish to go into war, but please rest assured that should you initiate any aggression ─ first, you will never be able to surprise us. Pakistan armed forces will never be surprised by you. But let me assure you, we shall surprise you,” he promised.
“We do not wish to go to war but please be rest assured should you [India] initiate any aggression, first you will never be able to surprise us. But let me assure you, we will surprise you. We shall also dominate the escalation ladder. Never think due to our commitments elsewhere we will have any capacity lack,” he said.
“We have the will and determination, ways and means to reach our desired state. We can respond to a full spectrum threat. We hope you get this and don’t mess with Pakistan,” Gen Ghafoor asserted.
The DG ISPR explained, “On February 14, a Kashmiri youngster targeted Indian security forces. After the incident, India starting bombarding Pakistan with allegations without any thought or proof. Pakistan took time to respond. We wanted to investigate the allegations and when we were sure-footed, the prime minister responded.”
“He made an offer to India which has never been made before. The premier offered to probe India if actionable evidence is shared,” he maintained. “We hope India will wisely consider Pakistan’s offer for peace.”
“We have a 72-year history. In 1947, Pakistan obtained independence and this is something India has not been able to accept till date. In 1965, tensions emerged at the LoC and our country which was progressing was affected. Then in 1971, our distance from East Pakistan was exploited. However, we were able to get through that as well because of our resilience. From 1971 to 1984, there were no incidents on our eastern border and we began progressing again. But then the Siachen happened, one day when Pakistan Army wasn’t there,” he added.
“Then India moved towards nuclear weapons and n 1998, we obtained nuclear power. Then in 2008 we were fighting a decisive war against militants and emerging successful so India started to mobilise its troops on the border,” he added.
“Whenever the situation improves in Pakistan, India tries to destabilise the country,” the head of the military’s media wing asserted.
“In February, when the Pulwama attack happened there were eight important events in Pakistan — Saudi crown prince’s visit, the Afghan reconciliation process, UNSC talking about terror financing, EU deliberating on human rights violations in occupied Kashmir, Kulbhushan Jadhav hearing, FATF hearing and decision on Pakistan, PSL and Kartarpur meeting. The elections are upcoming in India and the indigenous struggle in occupied Kashmir is high.”
“How would Pakistan benefit from Pulwama attack in light of these events? Pakistan would be at a loss,” DG ISPR stressed.
Ghafoor questioned the motives of the Indian government for hurling accusations at Pakistan, saying the attack took place “miles away from the Line of Control (LoC) and the explosives used were not from Pakistan. The car used was not from Pakistan either. The attack was carried out by a youngster from occupied Kashmir who was mistreated by Indian security forces.”
“People in Indian media and social media had predicted an attack like this prior to the elections.”
Questioning whether Pakistan is in diplomatic isolation, Gen Ghafoor said, “You have seen how the heads and delegations of foreign countries are visiting.”
The DG ISPR also noted certain technical details regarding the Pulwama attack and the claim of responsibility made in a video by a Kashmiri youth that made it appear doubtful that Pakistan had any role in the attack.
“India began showering Pakistan with accusations immediately after the attack without sparing a moment to think, and without any evidence in hand,” Ghafoor said.
“From the Line of Control onwards, Indian security forces have layered defences,” he said, explaining that there were layered lines of defence, one after another.
“How is it possible for anyone from Pakistan to cross the LoC and go to some area where the population of security forces is greater than that of locals?”
“You should question your security forces, that ‘You’ve been sitting here for decades, you spend so much on defence, how was this infiltration possible?’,” he stated.
‘DURRANI FOUND GUILTY’
Speaking about former chief of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Lieutenant General (r) Asad Durrani, Gen Ghafoor said, “He has been found guilty of violating the military code of conduct. His pension and other benefits have been stopped.”
“Two senior military officials are under arrest for espionage. They are not part of a network and the army chief has ordered their court-martial,” he further said. No additional information was offered as to who the officers were, or which country they were spying for.
The army’s spokesman concluded his address by saying Pakistan does not wish to have any conflict with anyone, including India, but “if any aggression is imposed, we will defend every inch of our motherland”.