'Time for India to wait for our response': ISPR DG debunks New Delhi's claims on LoC violation

Updated February 26, 2019

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Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor addressing a press conference on Tuesday. — DawnNewsTV
Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor addressing a press conference on Tuesday. — DawnNewsTV

Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor, the director general (DG) of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), held a press conference on Tuesday evening, debunking India's claims on the Line of Control (LoC) violation earlier in the day.

Indian military planes had violated the LoC early on Tuesday, intruding from the Muzaffarabad sector, following which "Pakistan Air Force immediately scrambled" and Indian aircraft went back, the ISPR DG had shared via Twitter.

"Today, the prime minister has asked everyone to get ready for every eventuality. We are all ready. Now it is time for India to wait for our response," he asserted.

"The response will come at a point and time of our choosing where our civil military leadership decides, and as a matter of fact, has decided," he added, reiterating the statement issued after the National Security Committee (NSC) meeting convened by Prime Minister Imran Khan.

"We have already exposed India and will do it again so the world knows what exactly India wants. "

'Timely response'

The ISPR DG started with a presentation, debunking claims made by India that the country's air force had "struck the biggest training camp of Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) in Balakot". "They are claiming that they remained in the Pakistani airspace for 21 minutes and killed 350 terrorists. They claim that the second strike was in Muzaffarabad and the third in Chakothi.

"Allah almighty is the greatest and we should not make tall claims, but come and try to spend 21 minutes in Pakistani airspace," challenged Maj Gen Ghafoor.

Read: 'Pakistan will respond' — Politicians react to India's LoC breach

"According to war methodology, our entire Air Force could not have stayed airborne. Our safeguards on land were in place. So if they had tried an on-ground incursion, they would have met the response that we had planned.

"Last night, our radars were observing them. They had earlier come closer to our border but did not cross it. Last night, their first visibility was observed near the Sialkot and Lahore border. They were seen approaching the border. Our Combat Air Patrol (CAP) team approached and challenged them. They did not cross.

"As per the SOP (standard operating procedure), when the first team got committed there, the next CAP team automatically was airborne. During this, another one of their formation was picked in Bahawalpur sector. The second standby team went down south and challenged it. We then observed that the more heavier of their teams was approaching Muzaffarabad sector from Kiran Valley. When our third CAP team challenged them, they had crossed the LoC.

"Their approaching of the border, the challenge and their return took four minutes," said the ISPR DG.

"If they had struck any military position, then an engagement would have happened. But they did not do that because if they had done so, our soldiers were ready," he added.

'No casualties'

"India's purpose is not that — Modi's government, even when it violates ceasefire violations in Azad Kashmir, deliberately targets civil population. Had they struck the military last night, then uniformed personnel would have been martyred and it would not have served their purpose.

"They wanted to target a place where civilians could have died, so they could claim that they targeted a terrorist camp.

"This would have benefited their war mongering and politics. They entered from Kashmir's Tangdhar — they were timely and effectively challenged, and repulsed by the Air Force. On their way back, they jettisoned their payload. Four of their bombs fell in [Balakot's] Jabba and they went back.

"The ground troops' job is to ascertain if anything has fallen or not. When they [Indian aircraft] went back, we checked through our line of communication and found that there were no strikes.

Referring to Indian media's claims that "350 terrorists have been killed and a hideout has been destroyed", Maj Gen Ghafoor said: "I called you [journalists] so I could take you there [to the site] and show you on the ground reality but unfortunately, I cannot take you by air due to rough weather.

"But the local media is there and have shown that there was not even a single brick there. They are claiming that they killed 350 terrorists; I say even if they had killed 10, what about their bodies, their funerals, their blood [...] the spot is open for anybody and everybody: for ambassadors, defence attaches, UN military observer group in Pakistan.

"Even the civilian population or army representatives from India can come through the authorised entry points in Pakistan. See it for yourself and go back and tell your prime minister," said the spokesperson.

According to AFP, the Pakistan Army escorted journalists to the site where it said the payload had been dropped.

An AFP reporter could see a crater roughly six feet deep and equally wide, and two trees that had been snapped in half, but the only nearby buildings were three mud houses, one with a collapsed wall.

'Wait for our surprise'

"A lie has no feet to stand on. You saw their first 'surgical strike'. I told them [India] that you will never be able to surprise us. We have not been surprised. We were ready, we responded.

"I said that we will surprise you. Wait for that surprise. I said that our response will be different. The response will come differently. We are a democracy. You have proved that you are not a democracy. You have chosen a path of war without knowing the consequence for the peace and stability of the region. We have fought for 50 years for this peace.

"There is a joint session of the parliament tomorrow and then the prime minister has summoned a meeting of the National Command Authority [country's top nuclear body]. I hope you know what the NCA means and what it constitutes."

When asked why the Indians were not shot down, Maj Gen Ghafoor said he wished they had remained in Pakistan for some more time. "Had India taken the decision to attack military targets, it could have done so from a stand-off distance too. It could have aimed without crossing the LoC. Their target was just to take a dry run.

"We have thousands of seminaries. They could have picked one, fired at it, and the casualties of our students would have made it easier to portray their lie as truth. They could have painted them as terrorists."

When asked if Pakistan's response would be in military terms or diplomatic, the ISPR DG said: "Whenever a country responds, it does so in all domains."

When asked if India's claim of 350 casualties has been backed by any another country, the army spokesperson questioned whether India itself had "shown anything or backed the claim". "The clip that they are showing is the one that has existed on YouTube for 2-3 years," he said.