Pakistan will respond whenever its security, resolve is challenged: DG ISPR Maj Gen Iftikhar

Published February 27, 2020
Director General of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Maj Gen Babar Iftikhar is addressing a press conference on Thursday. — DawnNewsTV
Director General of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Maj Gen Babar Iftikhar is addressing a press conference on Thursday. — DawnNewsTV

Director General of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Maj Gen Babar Iftikhar on Thursday said that Pakistan will respond whenever there is a challenge to the country's security and integrity.

He was addressing a 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.

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"After the Pulwama incident, India blamed Pakistan. We offered all cooperation," said DG Iftikhar in his first press conference after taking charge of the army's media wing this month. "But on Feb 26, they carried out a cowardly attack. We were prepared, the surprise they wanted to give to us, we gave them one instead and they retreated."

Read: A look back at the events leading up to the Feb 2019 Pak-India aerial combat

"We salute the bravery of all our soldiers that continue to fight bravely in front of the enemy.

"We are aware of all covert and overt operations of our enemies, and are prepared for all scenarios. The game being played by India, Pakistan's civil and military leadership is very much aware of it.

LoC violations

Speaking on violations carried out by India across the Line of Control, he said during the past year, there have been "384 violations". "They do not spare children on their way to school."

"The most ceasefire violations and casualties were recorded in 2019.

"The Pakistan Army is a responsible force; when we are provoked we respond on military targets, while the Indian forces target civilians.

"If there is a war in the region, there will be far reaching consequences," he warned.

'Oppression in Kashmir'

"Jammu and Kashmir is an internationally recognised 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.

"International media and human rights bodies have unmasked the violence in the occupied valley while there are protests in India regarding this. This issue cannot be silenced any longer.

"The United Nations chief has also stressed ending the oppression in the occupied valley. A solution to the Kashmir issue is attached to our national interest. We stood with the Kashmiris in the past, and will do so in the future."

"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.

"Our country's leadership has done its best to bring this to light; we are ready, our government needs to decide how to solve this, but everything possible is being done."

'Journey from terrorism to tourism'

Speaking on Raddul Fasaad, which was launched in February 2017 in the aftermath of a fresh resurgence in terror attacks in Pakistan, he said the operation has normalised the country.

"We claimed 40,000 murabay back from terrorists.

"The journey from terrorism to tourism has been a difficult one, the people also played a part in this. Our cricket grounds are now filled once again," he said.

"We respect the white on our flag, and salute the sacrifices made by religious minorities," he said.

'Do not test our capability'

"If there is a challenge to Pakistan's security, we will respond — do not test our capability and resolve," he warned.

"There is no space for war between two nuclear powers. The consequences for that will be uncontrollable and things will spiral out of control. Intentions can change overnight but capabilities remain.

"Whenever India has taken any such [aggressive] action, we have given them a befitting response."

When asked about India's defence, the DG said: "We are prepared; India is among the top three countries for military spending, despite this we are 100 per cent capable.

"We will not let any harm come to our country."

Earlier in the day, DG ISPR had said: "The way we responded on this day [Feb 27, 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."

US-Taliban talks

Commenting on the US-Taliban peace deal set to take place on Feb 29, the DG ISPR stated that while this is the domain of the Foreign Office, 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.

He went on to say that there is nothing wrong with Pakistan's relationship with Afghanistan. "We have a very cordial and good relationship. As far as this peace accord is concerned, Pakistan has done its best to facilitate this [deal], and that has been acknowledged unanimously by everyone.

"I don't see any reasons for our relations with Afghanistan going sour," he added.

Coronavirus scare in Pakistan

When asked to comment on the the two coronavirus cases reported in the country, the DG ISPR said that the health ministry is tackling the situation effectively.

"I will only say this; the virus was spreading in neighbouring countries, and now two cases have been reported in Pakistan. This means that the steps we have taken [for tackling the virus] are paying off.

"As far as the armed forces are concerned, we are absolutely ready to help out as and when the government asks us, and all our facilities are alert to the situation," he said, adding that military representatives are also part of the conferences called to review the situation in the country.



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