We are two nuclear powers, but no space for war with India, says Pakistan Army
Pakistan Army said that there was no space for any war with India but warned that its desire for peace should not be mistaken for weaknessUpdated: Jun 04, 2018 23:47 IST
Hindustan Times, Islamabad
India and Pakistan are nuclear powers and there is no space for war between the two countries, the chief Pakistani military spokesman said on Monday in the wake of an agreement between the two sides to fully implement a ceasefire on the Line of Control.
Addressing a news conference in Rawalpindi on a wide range of issues, the head of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor, touched on India-Pakistan relations and the Pashtoon Tahaffuz Movement aimed at safeguarding the rights of Pashtuns.
Ghafoor started his briefing with an overview of the Pakistan-India relationship and the agreement reached by the Directors General of Military Operations on May 29 to fully implement the 2003 ceasefire on the LoC.
He said ceasefire violations by Indian troops on LoC had been higher than usual in 2017 and 2018, and that 1,881 incidents last year had left 52 people dead and 254 injured. The number of cross-border incidents had crossed 1,500 by the first week of June, he added.
Ghafoor said: “The Indians have to realise and understand where they want to go (in the future)…We are two nuclear powers and there is no space for war.”
Pakistan, he said, is “willing to ignore the first shot that is fired from the Indian side, provided it does not result in a casualty on our side”, but “the second shot would be responded in kind”.
He accused the Indian Army of targeting civilians on the Pakistani side, “while we responded and targeted (their) forces”. This situation “was not tenable” and an agreement was reached by the DGMOs to avoid further conflagration and ensure that the 2003 ceasefire is not violated.
Commenting on an incident of cross-border firing incident that occurred after the agreement was reached, Ghafoor said Pakistan would not have responded to Indian firing but was “compelled” to do so only because civilians were targeted and there were casualties on the Pakistani side.
“Pakistan’s desire for peace should not be construed as a weakness,” he said.
Ghafoor said Pakistan’s relations with the US were strained, but Islamabad’s stance was that the army, with the help of the public, has fought terrorism and done what no other armed forces in the world could manage. “We have learned that national interest comes first and we will not compromise on that,” he said.
While denying the presence of the Haqqani Network on the Pakistani side, Ghafoor conceded that some residual elements may still be present. “Prior to (Operation) Zarb-e-Azb, it used to be a question of capacity, not resolve,” he said, adding that the operation had achieved tangible gains and eradicated most terror networks on the Pakistani side of the border.
He reiterated the military desires respectable repatriation of Afghan refugees from Pakistan, “after which the army can target all remaining terrorist networks”.
Ghafoor also spoke on the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) at considerable length and denied the impression that security forces were using force against the group’s activists. According to him, the issues put forward by PTM chief Manzoor Pashteen included the extrajudicial killing of Naqeebullah Mehsud, the missing persons issue, the dumping of unexploded ordnance and the presence of security check posts in the tribal areas.
He added these were all practical issues and the PTM leaders had been assured that they would be looked into.
But he contended it was time the PTM did some introspection. “When those who are the enemies of Pakistan start praising you...then one needs to look inside and see if what they are doing is something favourable for the country,” he said.
First Published: Jun 04, 2018 18:27 IST