An ex-servicemen’s group on Tuesday said the recent statements of the federal ministers cast doubt over whether the government and the army are on the same page in the fight against terrorism.
In a statement, Veterans of Pakistan (VOP) expressed deep concern over, what they called, “the foreign minister agreeing with the US demand that Pakistan needs to do more”, arguing that this went against the statement of the COAS that this group had moved to Afghanistan, a long time ago. They said the army’s stance is supported by the latest statement of former Afghan president Hamid Karzai that the Taliban controlled half of Afghanistan.
In a special meeting of the VOP Executive Council, chaired by Lt Gen (retd) Ali Kuli Khan, the military men said that FM Khwaja Asif also referred to Indian spy Kulbhushan Yadhav as a prisoner whose exchange could be considered. The prisoners that are exchanged are generally poor fishermen, they noted.
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They accused Asif of failing to mention that on his US visit, he was given a warning that Pakistan had to do more before the US adopts other means that would hurt Pakistan.
The veterans added that the Foreign Office has made no comment on the highly successful visit of our COAS to Afghanistan and his bold offer for a joint watch of the border.
The foreign minister should have asked the American government to support Pakistan’s planned wall along the Afghan border to prevent unlawful cross-border movement.
“Finally, the cat came out of the bag when the US defence secretary, using Indian language,” stated that they are opposed to CPEC because it is passing through ‘disputed territory’,” VOP added.
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If the US wants to promote democracy in Afghanistan, then elections under UN peace force are the best means, they said, adding, “Democracy comes from the ballot and not the bullet. Under the cover of peace talks, America actually wants the Taliban’s surrender.”
The VOP was appreciative of declarations by the services chiefs that the armed forces were fully supportive of CPEC while claiming that there are suspicions in certain quarters about the government’s intentions because of the slow progress on the development of Gwadar port and related infrastructure.
On the Ahsan Iqbal-Rangers feud, they said our interior minister has created his own front against the army over the issue. They advised that instead of creating a scene in public, Iqbal should have gracefully left and ordered an inquiry. They added that he was not being prevented from performing his duties as interior minister as he was only going there as a supporter of a man on trial.
The ISPR DG “correctly stated that the sentry could stop even COAS if he was without entry pass”, they said.
Members also felt that employment of Civil Armed Forces on police duties is gradually on the increase. This is having an adverse effect on their primary function of watching the international borders.
Vice Admiral (retd), Ahmad Tasnim, Brig (retd) Mian Mahmud, Brig (retd) Arbi Khan, Salim Gandapur, Col (retd) Dalel Khan, Maj (retd) Farouk Hamid Khan, Brig (retd) Masudul Hassan, and others were also present at the VOP meeting.
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