RAWALPINDI: Director General of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Major General Asif Ghafoor said today Pakistan was standing at the watershed of its history and prudent decisions were needed to take the country forward.
“We are at the watershed of our history beyond where the period could be either very good or otherwise. We (the nation) have to take the decision where to take it,” he said at a news briefing here at ISPR.
He said Pakistan would have to resuscitate its economy and everyone would have to play their role for a prosperous country.
The ISPR DG said Pakistan had internal and external fault lines, which were exploited by the enemies. He also expressed concern over the killing of civilians during India’s continued ceasefire violations. The ongoing year saw the highest number of civilian killings. “At least 55 civilians lost their lives, while 300 others suffered injuries due to Indian ceasefire violations,” he added.
He said Pakistan could not respond to India in the same way as it did not suit a professional army and also because Kashmiri brothers were living on the other side of the border. Pakistan, he said, believed in talks for a durable peace but India was continuously backing off from negotiations. He, however, expressed the hope that the situation would change after upcoming elections in the neighboring country.
Talking about the war on terror, Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor said it had been mostly fought in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). He noted that terrorist incidents had significantly decreased in the country. “In 2013, on average around seven to eight terrorist incidents were taking place every month. But now in 2018, this average has decreased.”
Comparing Balochistan to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA, he said in FATA, which was three percent of the
country’s geography, over 200,000 troops had been deployed against around 65,000-70,000 in Balochistan, which was 43 percent of the country’s geography and six percent of the population. “After the Army Chief’s visit to Quetta, we’ve changed the deployment of troops in Balochistan. Initially, our forces and headquarters were in Quetta, but now according to the geography we’ve split them to different sectors and done a readjustment,” he added.
The ISPR DG said terrorist incidents, as well as abduction cases, had decreased in Balochistan. The good thing was that Ferraris were surrendering themselves there. In the past three years, over 2,000 Ferraris had surrendered.
Talking about the law and order situation in Karachi, he said it had improved in the last few years. In 2017,
no terrorist incident took place in the city, while in 2018, only two. The security situation had improved a lot and the credit for that went to the Rangers, he added.
He said the crime rate had also decreased in the megacity. Karachi, which was at number six in the world due to the crime rate, now stood at number 67. “The situation in the city will improve further in the coming days.”
Relevant: Giving an overview of the ongoing countrywide Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad, the ISPR Director General said in the last two years around 44 major operations were conducted and over 4,000 intelligence-based operations (IBOs). The operation would continue till complete success. However, he said, no war could end with just operations as with the government support, the Pakistan Army was working for socio-economic uplift of Balochistan and FATA.
He said the number of polio cases in the country had also decreased. In the year 2014, around 306 cases were reported but in 2018 just eight cases had surfaced. The day would come when Pakistan would be a polio-free country.
Major General Asif Ghafoor said the army was trying to politely engage the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM). “They have suffered in the war (against terror). We still want to deal with them politely. They have spoken orally but so far they have not committed any violence. But they are heading in the direction where it is feared they may cross the line. If that happens the state will have to establish its writ,” he added.
He also talked about the three PTM demands and the steps taken to address them. Their first demand, he said, was about check posts. In 2016 there were 469 check posts in KP and FATA , which had now been decreased to 331.
“When we are sure there is no need for even one check post we will remove these,” he said.
He said the PTM’s second demand was to clear landmines in the area. Efforts were already underway to remove the same. The Pakistan Army troops had also suffered casualties due to the mines and unexploded bombs.
The third PTM’s demand, he said, was about missing persons. He said there had been around 7,000 cases of missing persons since 2011. “Out of these over 4,000 cases have been solved. While 3,000 plus cases are under process and out these around 2,000 cases are with the commission. We also want this issue to be resolved,” he maintained.
Talking about the threat on the western border, he said if there could be surety from Afghanistan’s side, Pakistan could bring its troops back. “But currently we cannot do that because of the security vacuum in Afghanistan.”
He said fencing along 2611km Pak-Afghan border would be completed by the end of next year adding that it
would lead to a reduction in cross-border attacks. He said that political reconciliation in Afghanistan must succeed in adding that Pakistan wanted the US to leave Afghanistan as a friend.
Touching upon the topic of accountability process within the armed forces of Pakistan he said, “We are a
disciplined force. There is a chain of command and rules and regulations.”
He said there were preventive and corrective measures in place in armed forces but if even then rules were violated punishments were awarded. He said in 2017-18 around 400 officers were given punishments, ranging from a warning to dismissals and terms in jail.
He said the government had taken several steps to improve relations with India. He said the initiative to open Kartarpur Corridor for the Sikh community was also projected in a negative way in the Indian media. He said that from the point of entry of the Corridor there would be barbed wire fencing till the place of worship and there would only be one-way entry. “This (fencing) project will be completed in six months. It will have a capacity to accommodate around 4,000 pilgrims daily,” he added.
Responding to a query about the Indian Army Chief’s statement that Pakistan needed to be a secular country to have better ties with India, the ISPR DG said before advising Pakistan India should first set its house in order. He noted that Muslims in India were living in a deplorable condition.
To another query, he said Pakistan would never fight anyone’s war. “We will never fight anyone’s war. This war was imposed on us.”
Answering another question about Prime Minister Imran Khan’s statement regarding the army supporting the PTI’s manifesto, he said he had listened to the PM’s statement thrice, which had been taken out of the context.
Major General Asif Ghafoor also asked the media to play a positive role in molding public opinion and projecting Pakistan’s image.
US Envoy at Faisal Masjid (TEXT AND VIDEO)
ISLAMABAD: United States Chargé d’Affaires a.i. Paul Jones, accompanied by his wife Catherine Jones, visited the Shah Faisal Mosque here.
Turkish Minister calls on Pak PM (VIDEO and TEXT)
ISLAMABAD: Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu called on Prime Minister Imran Khan here today and discussed means to further enhance bilateral cooperation in diverse fields.
Turkish Interior Minister congratulated PM Imran Khan on behalf of Turkish leadership on assuming the office. Visiting minister conveyed Turkish President’the s felicitation message to the Prime Minister.
Assuring all possible support of Turkey to Pakistan he invited PM Khan to visit Turkey. Imran Khan also extended an invitation to the Turkish President and Turkish leadership to visit Pakistan.
Quality healthcare services
RAWALPINDI: Federal Minister for National Health Services, Regulation, and Coordination Amir Mehmood Kiani today said the PTI government under the dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Imran Khan was taking revolutionary steps for the promotion of health sector.
He expressed these views during a visit to Rawalpindi Cantonment General Hospital here today. The minister said the government was going to start a health insurance programme in the country and it would distribute 25 million Health Insurance Cards (HIC) to the poor and needy people by the beginning of next month.
He said the healthcare system of Pakistan was beset with numerous problems mainly because of the apathy of the
past governments toward the health sector, which was evident from the fact that the previous governments had failed to develop a “National Health Policy” due to which the country miserably failed to meet the health-related targets.
Criticizing the opposition, he said it was not a real opposition and that most political leaders had united to save their financial interests. He said people would see improvement in all sectors and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government would put the country on the path of development and prosperity. He said the PTI government brought a considerable change in the health sector adding that four new hospitals were being built in Islamabad to lessen the load on available hospitals.