KARACHI: The outgoing chief military spokesperson said on Thursday that the “superior military strategy” of army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa had averted an apocalyptic war that the recent armed confrontation between Pakistan and India could have triggered in South Asia.
“Pakistan and India were on the brink of war in February 2019, but the operational preparedness of Pakistan’s armed forces and their effective response [to Indian aggression] paved the way for peace,” Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor told defence correspondents of Pakistani media outlets during a farewell on Thursday.
The two nuclear-armed rivals have fought three wars and last February came close to a fourth when Indian forces made an abortive attempt to carry out a so-called surgical strike in Balakot triggering a quick reprisal from the Pakistani military in which two Indian warplanes were shot down and one of the pilots was captured alive – only to be released later as a goodwill gesture.
“All the three services proved their mettle during the confrontation with India,” he added. “The Pakistani leadership successfully tackled the threat.”
Maj Gen Babar Iftikhar has been posted as new Director General Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) who, according to Maj Gen Ghafoor, would take over the charge on February 1.
Akcent has 'fantastic tea' with DG ISPR
Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor, who has been posted as General Officer Commanding (GOC) Okara, leaves his post after three headline-grabbing years.
India’s civil and military leaders have stepped up belligerent rhetoric since their humiliating drubbing in the February confrontation, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying on Wednesday that his country could make Pakistan “bite the dust within 7-10 days”.
Maj Gen Ghafoor condemned the “irresponsible statements” of the Indian leadership. “The [Indian] military could not defeat 8 million Kashmiris in 71 years. How can they even talk of defeating 207 million Pakistanis,” he said.
“Pakistan and its armed forces will always surprise you,” he said while laughing off Modi’s threat. “We have repeatedly said that you will trigger a war, but we would have the last laugh,” he said while directly addressing warmongers in India.
Having said that, Maj Gen Ghafoor said war is no-win situation in which there are no winners while humanity pays the price. “Pakistan’s civil and military leadership wants peace in South Asia. And it is high time the Indian leadership also realised the importance of peace in the region,” he added.
Major-General Babar Iftikhar appointed as new DG ISPR
The outgoing military spokesperson also lavishly praised Pakistan intelligence agencies. “The ISI [Inter-Services Intelligence] is a top intelligence agency of the world,” he said. “The ISI, together with MI [Military Intelligence] and IB [Intelligence Bureau] successfully stemmed the tide of terrorism in Pakistan,” he added. “We’re proud of our intelligence agencies.”
Maj Gen Ghafoor’s transfer was expected but it came days after an unseemly social media spat with a TV anchor, which triggered a guessing game in the media. However, he said whatever he said in his capacity as DG ISPR was not his personal opinion.
“A military spokesperson never says anything beyond the institution’s policy.”
The ISPR, with Maj Gen Ghafoor at the helm, outwitted and outmaneuvered the Indian military in the war of narrative – something the Indians would also testify to.
“When are we going to have our own equivalent of the DG ISPR because [India’s armed] services have their own PRs and they are going in different ways,” India’s National Cyber Security Coordinator Lt Gen (retd) Rajesh Pant was quoted as saying last December.
When a defence correspondent in the audience said the Indians would be happy with his exit from the ISPR, Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor said, “It’d be an honour for me.”
He also heaped praise on the defence correspondents who, according to him, were his “core team” during his posting as DG ISPR. “They strengthened the spirit of Pakistan’s armed forces with their responsible reporting,” he added.
“Pakistan has fought a battle for its survival during the past two decades – and the defence correspondents stood rock solid by their armed forces in this fight,” he added. “The media played an important role in the achievements of the armed forces.”
He further said that the media won the hearts of the armed forces and the families of its martyrs.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ