ISLAMABAD – Pakistan once again made it clear on Thursday that the armed forces will respond to any misadventure by India in the future as well.
Director General Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) directorate, Major General Babar Iftikhar in his maiden press conference on the first anniversary of ‘Operation Swift Retort’ which resulted in the downing of two Indian planes, that had violated Pakistani airspace on February 27 last year, warned if Pakistan’s sovereignty is challenged, the country will respond with full force.
He said that Pakistan was taking the recent threatening statements by the Indian leadership very seriously. “We are aware of all covert and overt operations of our enemies and are prepared for all scenarios. Pakistan’s civil and military leadership is very much aware of the game being played by India,” he added.
He, however, said there is no space for a war between two nuclear powers because it will have uncontrollable consequences. “If there is a war in the region, there will be far reaching consequences,” he warned. He said the region cannot afford any war. Therefore, he said, Pakistan has always adopted the path of peace. Nonetheless, the armed forces of Pakistan are ever ready to respond to any aggression.
“If there is a challenge to Pakistan’s security, we will respond — do not test our capability and resolve,” he warned.
Major General Babar Iftikhar said after the Pulwama incident, India blamed Pakistan but it offered all cooperation. He lamented that India carried out a failed and cowardice attempt to attack Pakistan on February 26 last year, but in response, its two planes were shot down and a pilot was captured. He termed the day of February 27 as a golden chapter in Pakistan’s history as enemy’s designs were foiled on that day.
He also dedicated 27 February to all the martyrs who sacrificed their life in the line of duty. He said it is a day of thanksgiving as the armed forces came up to the people’s expectations.
Referring to the constant threats on the eastern border, the DG ISPR said Indian forces have been committing ceasefire violations on the Line of Control, putting the regional peace in danger. He counted Indian ceasefire violations at 384 during the current year in which two civilians were martyred and 30 others sustained injuries.
He said even innocent school children are targeted by the Indian forces in Azad Kashmir. He said Pakistan Army responds to the Indian aggression along the LoC in a befitting manner, however, he said, being a responsible and professional army, Pakistani troops only target Indian forces across the LoC.
Talking about the grave human rights violations in occupied Kashmir, Major General Babar Iftikhar said Indian forces have been carrying out atrocities against armless people of Kashmir for 73 years. He said India’s illegal and immoral steps of 5 August 2019 in occupied Kashmir have added to the miseries of the Kashmiri people. He said there had been complete lockdown in occupied Kashmir for 207 days and the life has been paralyzed.
He said the Kashmir issue has been internationalized, and India’s state terrorism in the held territory is being highlighted by the international media despite restrictions. “Jammu and Kashmir is an internationally-recognized dispute between India and Pakistan,” he pointed out. In the past 207 days, the people of occupied Kashmir have been facing major violence and oppression, he lamented and added the UN Secretary General had also expressed concern over the human rights violations in occupied Kashmir. He believed that the issue cannot be silenced any longer. “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,” he held. He was of the view that Pakistan’s leadership has done its best to bring the issue to light.
Regarding the war on terrorism, the DG ISPR said Pakistan successfully fought the war on terror during the last 20 years. He said over 1200 small and big operations were carried out in which 17,000 terrorists were killed. He said the Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad has been continuing to stable and peaceful Pakistan. He said writ of the state has been reestablished across the country through the operation.
He said Pakistan paid a heavy price in the war on terror, sacrificing 80,000 lives and suffering economic loss of 180 billion dollars. “The journey from terrorism to tourism has been a difficult one. Our cricket grounds are now filled once again,” he said. He also saluted the sacrifices made by the religious minorities.
Answering a question about the upcoming peace deal with the United States and the Afghan Taliban, Major General Babar Iftikhar hoped the agreement will have positive impact on the region as Pakistan strongly supported the Afghan-led peace process. He said US-Taliban peace deal was set to take place on February 29.
To a question, he said 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.
To another question, he said the international community is standing with Pakistan’s stance on de-escalation in South Asia and appreciating Islamabad’s positive role in this regard. He said US President Donald Trump acknowledged Pakistan’s role in his recent visit to India, saying that Pakistan is very closely working with the United States for regional peace.
Earlier in the day, the DG ISPR in a tweet had said, “The way we responded on this day [27 February 2019] is a proof that any misadventure by enemies of Pakistan will always be defeated. Our adversaries will be surprised with our bold responses every time.”