–Gen Iftikhar says there is no space for war between two nuclear powers
RAWALPINDI: Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General Major General Babar Iftikhar on Thursday reiterated Pakistan Army’s commitment to security and national integrity, saying it will respond “whenever there is a challenge to the country’s security and integrity”.
Addressing his first press conference after taking charge of the military’s media wing, Gen Iftikhar spoke on Pulwama incident, Line of Control (LoC) violations, Kashmir issue and anti-terrorism operations in the country.
“After the Pulwama incident, India blamed Pakistan. We offered all cooperation,” he said, adding: “But on Feb 26, they carried out a cowardly attack. We were prepared, the surprise they wanted to give to us, we gave them one instead and they retreated.”
“We salute the bravery of all our soldiers that continue to fight bravely in front of the enemy. We are aware of all covert and overt operations of our enemies and are prepared for all scenarios. The game being played by India, Pakistan’s civil and military leadership is very much aware of it.”
‘DO NOT TEST OUR CAPABILITY’:
“If there is a challenge to Pakistan’s security, we will respond — do not test our capability and resolve,” he warned.
“There is no space for war between two nuclear powers. The consequences for that will be uncontrollable and things will spiral out of control. Intentions can change overnight but capabilities remain.
“Whenever India has taken any such [aggressive] action, we have given them a befitting response.”
When asked about India’s defense, the DG said: “We are prepared; India is among the top three countries for military spending, despite this we are 100 percent capable.
“We will not let any harm come to our country.”
Earlier in the day, DG ISPR had said: “The way we responded on this day [Feb 27, 2019] is proof that any misadventure by enemies of Pakistan will always be defeated. Our adversaries will be surprised by our bold responses every time.”
Speaking on violations carried out by India across the Line of Control (LoC), he said during the past year there have been 384 violations.
“They do not spare [even] children on their way to school,” he revealed, adding that the most ceasefire violations and casualties were recorded in 2019.
“The Pakistan Army is a responsible force; when we are provoked we respond on military targets, while the Indian forces target civilians.
“If there is a war in the region, there will be far-reaching consequences,” he warned, repeating the words of Prime Minister Imran Khan who, in his speech at the United Nations General Assembly in September last year, had warned of “across the border consequences in case of war”.
‘OPPRESSION IN KASHMIR’:
“Jammu and Kashmir is an internationally recognised dispute between India and Pakistan,” he pointed out, observing that in the past 207 days, the people of occupied Kashmir faced violence and oppression.
“International media and human rights bodies have unmasked the violence in the occupied valley while there are protests in India regarding this. This issue cannot be silenced any longer,” he added.
“The United Nations chief [in his recent tour to Pakistan] has also stressed ending the oppression in the occupied valley. A solution to the Kashmir issue is attached to our national interest. We stood with the Kashmiris in the past, and will do so in the future.”
“The entire world is aware of what is going on in Kashmir and we feel for the people of the valley.
“All our options are on the table. This dispute is being viewed as a flashpoint, we are moving towards a solution but the pace of this is not what it should be.”
“Our country’s leadership has done its best to bring this to light; we are ready, our government needs to decide how to solve this, but everything possible is being done.”
‘FROM TERRORISM TO TOURISM’:
Speaking on Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad, which was launched in Feb 2017 in the aftermath of a fresh resurgence in terror attacks in Pakistan, he said the operation has normalised the country.
“We claimed 40,000 area of land (muraba) back from terrorists.
“The journey from terrorism to tourism has been a difficult one, the people also played a part in this. Our cricket grounds are now filled once again,” he said.
“We respect the white on our flag, and salute the sacrifices made by religious minorities,” he said in a comment on the conditions minorities live in the country.
Commenting on the US-Taliban peace deal set to take place on Feb 29, the DG ISPR stated that while this is the domain of the Foreign Office, there is no news regarding a delay in the signing of the deal.
“There will be positive results from this deal. Nobody wants peace in Afghanistan more than Pakistan. We are hoping for the best,” he said.
He went on to say that there is nothing wrong with Pakistan’s relationship with Afghanistan. “We have a very cordial and good relationship. As far as this peace accord is concerned, Pakistan has done its best to facilitate this [deal], and that has been acknowledged unanimously by everyone. “I don’t see any reasons for our relations with Afghanistan going sour,” he added.
Answering a question about coronavirus in the country, he said: “As far as the armed forces are concerned, we are absolutely ready to help out as and when the government asks us, and all our facilities are alert to the situation.” Military representatives are also part of the conferences called to review the situation in the country, he added.