'Must be condemned at every level': Army slams 'regretful social media campaign' following chopper crash
Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General (DG) Major General Babar Iftikhar on Friday expressed strong disapproval of "false propaganda and insensitive comments that erupted on social media" after six officials — including a corps commander — were martyred in a helicopter crash during flood relief efforts in Balochistan.
"The way this happens on social media, we have to look into this and reject such elements involved in it," he said on Geo News programme Naya Pakistan.
"We can do this collectively. That's why we issued a press release as it was important to highlight this matter. This has to be condemned at every level."
The remarks from the military spokesperson come in the wake of "deeply insensitive" comments on social media, which Maj-Gen Iftikhar said hurt the sentiments of the heirs of martyrs of the chopper crash.
The wreckage of the Pakistan Army helicopter that went missing in Balochistan on the night of Aug 1 was found near Musa Goth in the Lasbela district a day later. "All 6 officers and soldiers including Lt Gen Sarfraz Ali embraced shahadat," the media affairs wing of the armed forces had tweeted.
The chopper was on flood relief operations in Lasbela, Balochistan when it lost contact with ATC [air traffic control].
The DG ISPR said his department also issued a press statement earlier in the day rejecting "false propaganda and insensitive comments by certain elements following the helicopter crash".
In its statement, the ISPR had noted that the "regretful social media campaign after unfortunate helicopter crash on Aug 1 has caused deep anguish and distress among Shuhada families and Rank & File of the Armed Forces".
It asserted that the whole nation stood with the institution "in this difficult time certain insensitive quarters resorted to hurtful and derogatory comments on social media which is unacceptable and highly condemnable".
In his talk with the TV channel, the DG ISPR said there was "extreme anguish and pain" in the ranks of the army and aggrieved families about the "insensitive" comments on social media.
"We can tackle such propaganda collectively and this has to be condemned at every level."
Maj Gen Iftikhar said the forces were in grief as "we had been going through a tough time involving this tragedy, hence we issued a statement today."
'No question of Pakistan soil being used' for Zawahiri killing
In response to a question about the killing of Al-Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri, the DG ISPR said there was no question of Pakistan soil being used for "such a purpose".
"The Foreign Office has clarified it in detail. They are all rumours as anybody can write anything on social media. We should avoid this. Our enemy, in particular, feeds such information to and they (people) get exploited," the military spokesperson noted.
He insisted there was no need to debate the point when it had been dismissed as baseless by all quarters concerned.
Army chief receives condolence calls from UAE, KSA officials
Meanwhile, Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa received a telephone call from President of UAE Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan today and the latter expressed "deepest condolences" over the loss of precious lives in the helicopter crash, according to ISPR.
Gen Bajwa also received a telephone call from General Fayyadh Bin Hamed Al-Ruwaili, Chief of General Staff (CGS), Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, today. "Chief of General Staff KSA expressed deepest condolences over the tragic loss of precious lives due to helicopter crash in Lasbela," ISPR said in a separate statement.