The military’s chief spokesperson has said Pakistan may progress only through political stability and that change only comes through public mandate.
“2018 was the year of change for Pakistan as it was the election year. A change only comes through general election,” the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General Major General Asif Ghafoor said on Wednesday while talking to ARY channel.
Maj Gen Ghafoor said in the recent years the Pakistan Army has provided unprecedented support to democracy. Pakistan will progress only if there is democracy and political stability. Let’s unite and do something that benefits the people, he added.
The ISPR chief made it clear that the army would not take any step that is detrimental to progress. He lauded the role and unflinching sacrifices of the internally displaced persons (IDPs) of former Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata).
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Saluting the people of Fata and Khyber Pakhtunkhawa who bore the brunt of the long war against terror, he said, "We will provide shelters, education, health and jobs to those people who sacrificed their houses and other things in war against terrorism." He said this is the time of rehabilitation of the IDPs who had to leave their permanent settlements during this conflict.
The ISPR chief while commenting on the operations launched by Pakistan Armed Forces to wipe out terrorists from the soil, said the Pakistan Army achieved a great successes in Shair Dil, Zarb-e-Azb, and Radd-ul-Fasaad operations.
Appreciating the role of valiant armed forces, he said: “For the last two decades, we had to face challenges including terrorism but the security forces made the war on terror a success for Pakistan.”
During the operation Radd-ul-Fasaad, the security forces recovered 35,000 illegal ammunition from terrorist elements. He said the new war would be waged for progress and development. “We have to focus on education if we want to maintain peace in the country,” he said.
To a question about Afghanistan, he said peace in Afghanistan is in the larger interest of Pakistan. Pakistan would continue efforts for establishing peace in Afghanistan, he added.
Talking about arch rival India, he said three wars have been fought with India but the Indian government has always fled from the negotiating table set by Pakistan for peace in the region. He said India prime minister has been using provocative language against Pakistan to win elections.
“The foreign office has expressed its reservations over the negative statement of the Indian Premier Narendra Modi. We have repeatedly asked the neighbouring country for peace talks.”
To another question, he said Pakistan is fully capable to defend its territorial integrity. The Pakistan Army, he said, holds an impregnable ability to defeat India. Any misadventure by India would be given a befitting response, he added.
The ISPR chief said the case of Indian spy Kulbushan Jadhav is in the International Court of Justice so no comments would be made on it. He said media of no other country was as free as media in Pakistan.
He said seven cadet colleges are working in Fata while nine are functioning in Balochistan. “The armed forces have a strong accountability system in place,” he said in reply to another question.
He hit out at New Delhi saying how can the Indian army carry out surgical strikes in Pakistan when even their drones are not allowed to cross into the country's territory.
He said that peace in Kabul would translate into lasting peace in Pakistan. "We have seen a spillover of terrorism from Afghanistan in our country," he said.
When asked about the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM), he said, "I'm sure their leadership wants the betterment of the country and will work with the government to this end."
Maj Gen Ghafoor said Islamabad wants Washington to leave Afghanistan with a sustainable system in place whenever it decides to withdraw all its troops.
He said the Kashmir dispute is the main stumbling block between Pak-India ties.
When asked about the military courts, he said that in the last four years 646 cases had been finalised out of which 100 death sentences had been awarded, while 5 acquittals were made owing to a lack of evidence.
During the interview, when questioned about media censorship, Maj Gen Ghafoor said the media is completely free in Pakistan, adding that,"the onus is on the media to report in a responsible manner."
He said that it was interesting that all statements about muzzling media organisations in Pakistan are coming from outside the country.
The military spokesperson added that there is a need for media organisations to highlight positive happenings in the country. He added that social media platforms should not be used against the interests of Pakistan.