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October 14, 2018

Army has no role in accountability process: DG ISPR

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October 14, 2018

LONDON: The Director General, Inter-Services Public Relations (DG ISPR), Major General Asif Ghafoor, has said the Pakistan Army has no role in the process of accountability and the drive against corruption.

He was talking to media persons at the Pakistan High Commission here on Saturday. “We have our hands full with the eastern and western borders and the army is to maintain security of the country.The Army has its own stringent mechanism of accountability and it’s the most robust and the toughest. It happens at various levels and no one is above accountability,” he said.

He emphasised that Army believes only democracy is the way forward and as an institution, the Pakistan Army provided full support to the democratic institutions. “We will work to make sure that democracy continues in Pakistan,” said Major General Asif Ghafoor, who is accompanying the Chief of Army Staff General Bajwa on his visit to the United Kingdom. “Whenever the army chief talks to any foreign dignitary, we talk about Pakistan and not about the Army,” he added.

The DG ISPR called on all the institutions to stand by one another and work together. “Army always stands by institutions, not with individuals.” The DG ISPR emphasised on Pakistan’s success in the war against terrorism. “We are the only success story in the Muslim world in terms of what we have achieved. As many 76,000 people have laid down their lives for peace and stability in Pakistan,” he said. The military spokesman stated that due to the war against terrorism, systems in Pakistan had eroded. “We need to correct those systems and in the last five years, those systems have started working well.” Major General Ghafoor spoke of the incidents of terrorism diminishing in the country and the crime rate decreasing in Karachi. “There used to be 2-3 blasts a day, but it is peaceful now. Karachi has come down in the crime index. Our bureaucracy and others have worked together.” The DG ISPR stressed when the systems are strong, the country will prosper. “Every institution has to work within a policy parameter. Today’s Pakistan is much better than before.”

When asked about polarisation and political divisions in Pakistan, Major General Ghafoor said there is no country in the world without political differences. “The beauty of democracy is that political differences exist. Pakistan has the same but differences should be ethical and without abuses and attacks. Through the power of vote first, the PML-N governed, then the PTI and in the future, it will be someone else.” Maj Gen Ghafoor lamented that it is unfortunate that the army is dragged in some matters. “Pakistan Army is an organised institution. We have to strengthen all the institutions including the police and bureaucracy.”

Citing the example of the United Kingdom, the DG ISPR stressed that the police is more powerful than the army and the same could happen in Pakistan as well. “The army can fight terrorists but this is the job of the police and our army is doing the job of the police for many years.” According to Maj Gen Ghafoor, police and judicial reforms are important and it is the government’s responsibility to bring reforms and legislation. The military spokesman further spoke on the role of the international media and how positive stories about Pakistan are not carried but negativity is highlighted. “A case in point are the reforms in the former Fata region. We have not seen any objective story in the western press about this, and only reports on alleged human rights violations keep coming.” The spokesman added in Pakistan there is freedom of expression, but the media faces pressures related to the economy.

Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor said the PML-N government listened to each and every demand of the Pakistan Army and provided funds for the fence on the porous border with Afghanistan. “The PML-N government approved the operation against militancy and fully cooperated. The barricade is not meant to be an obstruction between the two countries. But we cannot allow a porous border.”

The DG ISPR said the 2018 general elections were the most transparent and free, with the Pakistan Army ensuring that people voted according to their will on polling day. “There was a record turnout in various parts of the country. Voters made their own choice and were not told who to vote for or not.” The military spokesman stressed that allegations of rigging were levelled but no evidence was brought forward. Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor, commenting on his “the year of change” tweet, said it was taken out of context. He informed the reporters that the former Chief of Army Staff General (retd) Raheel Sharif is in Saudi Arabia on a contract approved by the government. He also spoke of former General (retd) Pervez Musharraf, who is out of Pakistan because of being in politics. “The fact is that he [Musharraf] is an army general but the army has nothing to do with his politics. We have no linkage with ex-president Musharraf regarding his politics.” The DG ISPR also dispelled the impression that seven former army generals are living outside Pakistan, telling reporters that only Raheel Sharif and Musharraf are outside, while Kayani, Kakar and Karamat live in the country.

Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor categorically stated that the surgical strike is a myth and India is running lies to discredit Pakistan. “We have the power to retaliate within ten minutes in case of any misadventure. There should be no doubt about that,” he asserted. He said the freedom movement of Kashmiris is indigenous and does not have any external support. “The independence of Kashmir is in the DNA of the Kashmiris and the movement for freedom is completely independent. India knows it well that there is no interference from Pakistan. Kashmiris are fighting the war of their survival and India knows the Kashmiris are right and the struggle will be won by Kashmiris. They are freedom fighters and not terrorists, India has used every kind of power to suppress Kashmiris but failed.”

The DG ISPR said Pakistan has no issue with the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) but there are concerns about the way it is operating and the message it is trying to portray to mislead the Pakistanis. He said the PTM leader is a Pakistani who studied at an army school and at no point the army said anything against him. “The issue is wider and beyond any individual. The Pakistan Army has made unprecedented sacrifices in Fata and other areas, going to the area and clearing it of terrorists who had turned them into havens of terrorism against Pakistan. We cannot forget that in these areas the Pakistanis and its armed forces were attacked and football was played with the remains of the deceased. Where were all these people when terrorism was unleashed from these areas? There was no hue and cry then but now that we have made these areas safe and secure our enemies are trying to sow seeds of discord amongst the Pakistanis. We understand that Manzoor Pashteen has no power to organise these protests abroad but we do know who is behind these protests and the sources of funding.”

Commenting on the COAS visit to the UK, Major General Asif Ghafoor said there has been a great interaction with the military and the civilian leaders. “We are a relevant country and governments like the UK want positive engagement with us which we have always welcomed." He added Pakistan wants the foreign forces in Afghanistan to succeed.

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