–ISPR DG says Pakistan stands by Kashmiri people, will go to any extent to protect them from Indian aggression
–Says army chief didn’t want extension in service but PM used his prerogative keeping in view security situation
RAWALPINDI: As tensions continue to soar between Pakistan and India over the Kashmir issue, Pakistani military’s chief spokesperson Major General Asif Ghafoor on Wednesday warned India against any misadventure, saying Pakistan will use anything to protect its eastern border as it has “no ‘no first use’ policy”.
Addressing a press conference at the General Headquarters, Ghafoor, the director general of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), said Pakistan’s “perpetual threat is just one and has been for the past 70 years. When it comes to the eastern border, everything is devoted to it, full stop”.
“An army is supposed to protect its country’s sovereignty,” he said, adding that war becomes inevitable if the country is threatened. “Now it is up to India and the rest of the world if they want to go down on that path,” he warned.
“We have no ‘no first use’ policy, these are weapons of deterrence,” he said while commenting on a statement by the Indian defence minister, wherein he had hinted at a change in India’s ‘no first use’ policy.
Maj Gen Ghafoor said, “If they (India) want to change their policy then it is their choice. But there is a second after first. Statecraft does not run on emotions, it runs on reality. It is easy to take a popular decision than a wise decision.”
Ghafoor’s presser comes amid heightened tensions between India and Pakistan following the Indian government’s decision to revoke Article 370, stripping Occupied Kashmir of its special status.
A communications blackout and heavy restrictions on movement imposed by the Indian authorities from the eve of this development entered their day 31. Pakistan downgraded diplomatic relations with New Delhi and suspended all bilateral trade.
The ISPR DG said the Pakistani armed forces were standing by the people of Kashmir and will go to any length to protect them.
“I want to give this message to Kashmiris that we stand by you and will continue to do so. It is sad that your struggle for independence is being presented as terrorism,” he said. “Kashmir is our jugular vein and we will go to any lengths to protect it.”
“How can you think that we can do a deal over Kashmir? “We have not agreed to do that in 72 years, why would we do that now?” the ISPR chief went on to add.
‘HITLER LOVERS IN POWER’:
“India is a country with a huge population, a follower of Hitler is in power [there]. The world community has interests in India.
“In India, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Nazi ideology are in power. They endanger minorities, including Muslims and Dalits,” he said, adding that minorities are unsafe in India.
He went on to compare India and Pakistan and the ramification of their actions in the region.
In the occupied Kashmir, he said, the “fascist” government of India Prime Minister Narendra Modi has “uprooted Jawaharlal Nehru’s efforts for the [peaceful] region”.
In contrast, the armed forces have established peace in Pakistan and the country is also playing its role for regional peace. “We have avoided escalation,” he said of recent tensions with India over Kashmir.
Speaking about Pakistan’s peace overtures, he said Prime Minister Imran Khan in his first speech after taking oath as the prime minister had extended an offer of dialogue to India [but] “in response India sent in two warplanes and received a befitting reply”.
He said India has “continued to attack Pakistan indirectly, alluding to the arrest of Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav.
“Maybe India thinks that it should take action against us that would weaken us. We want to tell India that wars are not only fought with weapons and economy, but with patriotism.”
He said Pakistan has been fighting a hybrid war for the past 20 years and considering the conflict spectrum, Pakistan’s options of response revolved around the economy, diplomacy, finance, intelligence, etc.
He recalled that there are United Nations resolutions on the conflict in Kashmir.
“For the first time in 50 years, the UN Security Council held a session on Kashmir. The PM and the foreign minister have talked to several nations’ heads and foreign ministers.
Thanking international and local media for effectively covering the oppression in Kashmir, he said the issue of Kashmir which was previously ignored by the world has now gained international attention.
He also mentioned Pakistan’s role in the US-Taliban peace talks. He said: “We are playing a role in the Afghan reconciliation process. If peace is established in Afghanistan, our troops deployed at the western border will probably be removed.”
It may be noted here that Pakistan has reportedly deployed its troops to eastern border in the wake of heightened tensions with India.
Discussing the fencing on the Pakistan-Iran border, he said cooperation between Pakistani and Iranian forces has improved recently.
He said first the Pak-Afghan border was considered sensitive, which is why fencing is underway there. “Now [militants] had started to infiltrate from the Pak-Iran border and we felt that it has become sensitive,” Maj Gen Ghafoor said.
“We increased FC (Frontier Corps) forces there and now we are fencing,” he said, adding that 70 per cent of the work on the fence has been completed.
About rumours regarding the establishment of relations between Pakistan and Israel, Maj Gen Ghafoor said rumors such as these are spread as part of ‘fifth-generation warfare’.
“We are the only country in the world whose passport refuses entry to Israel; we have had this stance for the past 70 years,” he said, adding that any change in this policy would be a “political decision”.
In response to a question, Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor said the decision to grant an extension to Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa was a prerogative of the prime minister, which he had exercised.
“The army chief did not want [an extension]. After over 40 years of service, every person wants to return to normal life and rest, but he has a personal rapport with many heads of states. It was the prime minister’s prerogative and he exercised it and let’s hope it pays off,” he added.