Talk of ‘deal’ with Nawaz Sharif mere speculation: DG ISPR

RAWALPINDIThe Pakistan Army has called “talk of a deal” with Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Quaid Nawaz Sharif as “mere speculations”, urging the public to keep the Establishment away from the political affairs.

Addressing a news conference over multi-security challenges in the region on Wednesday, Inter-Service Public Relations (ISPR) Director General Major-General Babar Iftikhar while repudiating reports doing rounds on the country’s media these days of a ‘deal’ struck between the Establishment and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, Major-General Babar Iftikhar urged the people to ask those talking such things to explain what kind of ‘deal’ they were talking about, what were its reasons, and who had struck it, even if it was admitted for the time being that the deal had been struck?

“If anyone asks you about a deal then you should ask the circumstances and the name of the person who is cracking a deal with them,” he said.

“These people are telling the half-truth. They had neither succeeded in the past nor will they succeed in future,” he stated categorically.

He termed it speculation and said that it is better to minimize such discussions as the country has far important issues like health and education. He declared “The less we talk about this ‘deal’ thing the better would be for the country.”

Babar Iftikhar made it clear that there was no problem between the military and the government.

Babar Iftikhar declared that despite India’s false propaganda of infiltration, the Line of Control (LoC) had remained peaceful throughout the whole year.

Babar Iftikhar maintained that India had also blamed Pakistan for “fake encounters”, but New Delhi’s allegations pointed towards its “political agenda”, putting the regional peace at stake.

The ISPR chief maintained that India has been facing extremism internally but it has been indulging in false propaganda of so-called infiltration.

Babar Iftikhar said that the worst siege in human history has been continuing in Occupied Kashmir.

He said under the ceasefire agreement reached with India in February last year, the Line of Control (LoC) “remained peaceful throughout the year”. “The biggest dividend is that the people who live around the area, have seen a definite improvement in their daily lives.

“But alongside this, the false accusations and the propaganda by the Indian leadership that has continued points towards a particular political agenda,” he said.

Babar Iftikhar said the fundamental purpose of this is to draw away the attention of the international community from the “systematic demographic changes” India is implementing in occupied Jammu and Kashmir.

He noted that on the one hand India is on a path of religious extremism, which the whole world is aware of now, and on the other, it has endangered the entire region’s security with its “never-ending series of defense procurement”.

The ISPR DG said that this will not only shift the balance of traditional warfare but will lead to an arms race in the region, which will have a severe and negative impact on peace.

At the LoC, India’s security mechanism, including the anti-infiltration grid, and with it the false propaganda of infiltration is laughable and raises questions regarding their own security mechanism, he said. “Recently, the Indian army staged a fake encounter in Kirin sector which is front of Neelum Valley, and in the name of countering infiltration, martyred an innocent Kashmiri, and then blamed Pakistan for it,” he said.

He said the photos circulated by Indian media of the alleged terrorist named Shabbir, is not only alive but is present at home in the Azad Kashmir area of Sharda.

Noting that India has martyred several Kashmiris before this around the LoC area, he said that the truth is that it has already tried to externalize Kashmir’s indigenous freedom struggle. But now, voices have begun to reverberate throughout India, occupied Kashmir, and the entire world that Indian armed forces are targeting innocent Kashmiris in the name of counter-terrorism and are trying to illegally crush their completely legitimate and indigenous freedom struggle, Maj Gen Iftikhar said.

He said in Kashmir the worst siege in human history has been going on since August 2019.

Speaking of The Russell Tribunal on Kashmir, which was held in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Hercegovina, between December 17-19, 2021, he said its findings are “eye-opening”. He said that 15 international judges and experts took part in the tribunal, which focused on four areas, namely genocide, decolonisation, secular colonialism and war crimes against Kashmiris.

The DG ISPR threw light on issues relating to the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, including its fencing, which he said was being done to protect people and not divide them. “During 2021, on the western border, the security situation was challenging,” Maj Gen Babar said. “The western border management, specifically the Pak-Afghan border … there were some specific local dynamics and these are being addressed at the relevant level.

The DG ISPR said that the Pak-Afghan border fencing was “94 percent complete”, adding: “We are totally focused, and under the western border management regime, the work that is underway will be completed in some time.”

“The fence on the Pak-Afghan border is needed to regulate security, border crossing, and trade. The purpose of this is not to divide but to protect them.”

“People can cross the border from designated points,” he explained, adding: “This process will be eased in coming months. The blood of our martyrs was spilled in fencing of the border. It is a fence of peace. It will be completed and remain.”

The DG ISPR deemed the recent uprooting of the fence by Taliban fighters as “one or two localized problems”, which he said is being discussed by the governments of both countries.

Maj Gen Babar also reviewed the armed forces’ performance during 2021, calling their work ‘wonderful’. “In 2021, intelligence agencies issued 890 threat alerts, on the basis of which 70pc incidents were averted,” he said. “The masterminds and their facilitators were unmasked.”

“In tribal areas, more than 70,000 mines … were recovered and lives were saved. Many officials were injured and martyred during the process.”

“In 2021, 248 troops were martyred. We salute them and their families. [Their sacrifices] helped establish peace. More than 100,000 ammunition were also seized.”

The ISPR DG regretted that the anti-establishment campaign was underway for some time now, the purpose of which was to drive a wedge between the country’s armed forces and the masses. He made it clear that only the state was authorized to use force, and said that no private militant outfit was allowed to take the law into its own hands.

At the same time, Major-General Babar Iftikhar stated emphatically that there was no ceasefire with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), and the operation against the terrorist group was in progress. He said Pakistan initiated talks with the TTP only at the request of the Afghan government.

Regarding the situation in Karachi, Babar said it was a matter of satisfaction that a considerable drop had been witnessed in violence in the port city.

However, he made it clear that the establishment was keeping an eye on the situation in the country’s commercial hub, and wished the situation returned to complete normalcy. He said there was a massive drop in the incidents of extortion, kidnapping, and target killings in Karachi and that was why the city has improved its ranking from six on the world crime index to 129.

Major General Babar Iftikhar also said that in Balochistan attempts to sabotage CPEC (China–Pakistan Economic Corridor) have failed. Despite these challenges, we have not allowed any disruptions to development projects.

He further said “Under the National Action Plan (NAP), the action was taken against terrorists. We can tackle extremism by focusing on the NAP. The ulema and media have also played their part. In Pakistan, no group or person can be allowed to take the law in their hand. Only the state can exercise this power.”

Looking ahead, he said: “2022 also marks 75 years of our independence. We have faced all challenges and we have to play our part in making the country prosperous.” TF REPORT

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