–ISPR DG says Pakistan has already taken peace initiatives, ball is now in India’s court to defuse tension
–Says world should help Pakistan in getting rid of militant organisations instead of levelling allegations
Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General Major General Asif Ghafoor on Wednesday said that after the peace initiatives by Pakistan, the ball is now in India’s court to see what steps it will take for de-escalation between both countries.
Talking to CNN, Ghafoor said that releasing captured Indian pilot Abhinandan Varthaman was a huge step by the Pakistani government to de-escalate the conflict. “The situation will get very bad if they further tried to escalate it,” Ghafoor asserted.
Emphasising on the resolution of Kashmir issue, the ISPR DG said the resolution of lingering Kashmir dispute is inevitable for reduction of tension in the region.
He noted that non-resolution of the dispute is an obstacle in the way of peace in the region.
Referring to the Indian atrocities in occupied Kashmir, Maj Gen Ghafoor said, “The answer to this question [of why the Pulwama attack took place] lies in the United Nations Human Rights Commission’s report [on Kashmir].”
The report, which the UN said was the first-of-its-kind for Kashmir, was released last year and highlighted “chronic impunity for violations committed by [Indian] security forces”.
“When you suppress a population to the extent that they are being killed, raped, being shot with pellet guns, there is a natural reaction,” Maj Gen Ghafoor said.
He said that it was pertinent to “move towards [a] Kashmir resolution” as it was the “flash point” for regional stability.
He also rubbished India’s claims of having targeted a JeM establishment in Balakot which resulted in the killing of “a very large number of militants”, saying “not a single brick was harmed and no bodies were found”.
“Indian claims are false,” he stated and pointed out that Indian officials themselves have admitted that they cannot determine the number of casualties inflicted.
The military’s spokesman urged the international community to assist Pakistan in the country’s fight against terrorism instead of levelling allegations alone.
Maj Gen Ghafoor said: “Anybody who operates from Pakistan, we feel, is not in the interest of the country. Instead of blaming Pakistan, it is time that the world should assist and facilitate Pakistan in getting rid of such organisations,” he stated.
He denied that Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) — the group that accepted responsibility for the Feb 14 attack in Indian-occupied Kashmir’s Pulwama district — had made any claim about the attack “from within Pakistan”.
“Jaish-e-Muhammad does not [formally] exist in Pakistan,” he insisted. “It has been proscribed by the United Nations [as well as] by Pakistan.”
Earlier this week, the government had decided to launch a “decisive” crackdown against militant groups. Authorities have already taken over administration of multiple mosques and seminaries that were said to be linked to extremist groups including the JeM and Jamaatud Dawa (JuD).
On Tuesday, the Ministry of Interior announced that 44 members of banned outfits, including Mufti Abdul Raoof and Hamad Azhar, had been taken in “preventive detention”.
Perhaps preempting criticism on the timing of Pakistan’s new crackdown against extremist groups, the DG ISPR said Pakistan was not taking these measures “under anyone’s pressure”.