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  • Mar 29th, 2018
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Director General Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), Major General Asif Ghafoor Wednesday clarified if a "Bajwa doctrine" exists then it is only within the parameters of security and stability of Pakistan. Dismissing misinterpretations regarding the 'Bajwa doctrine', the DG ISPR asserted that the basis of the "Bajwa doctrine" is to bring peace and stability to the country. He further clarified that the doctrine supports identification and removal of terrorists morphed into Afghan refugee camps, de-weaponization of the country, and the establishment of a security fence on the Afghan-Pakistan border.

"If there is a Bajwa doctrine per se, it is the talk held from the security lens. Pakistan from the security lens should be taken to where it should be. This is the dream of all Pakistanis whether they are civilians, in the government or opposition, in government office or in uniform," he said.

The 'Bajwa doctrine' did not mention the 18th Amendment or the judiciary, he added. Responding to a question, the DG ISPR said the Army Chief met certain journalists, which was an off-the-record meeting regarding the security situation of the country.

"The Army Chief addressed the same issues in the meeting as I discuss with you in my press conferences," he said. He said that most media anchors respected the norms of media interaction; however, a few of them discussed the meeting and the quoted statements were slightly out of context.

He explained that during the long meeting many topics came under discussion, however, some quarters lumped the entire conversation with journalists as the 'Bajwa doctrine'. The DG ISPR also said that India shouldn't support instability in Pakistan through Afghanistan or through violations on the Line of Control as instability in Pakistan is not in the interests of India as well.

In fact, India should be thankful to Pakistan for its role in combating terror as the country's efforts ensured containment of the threat, which may have spilt over the eastern border, he added. According to the DG ISPR, Indian ceasefire violations on the Line of Control (LoC) and Working Boundary are the worst in history and in 2018 there have been 948 violations. "India needs to realize that aggression on the LoC and Working Boundary will ruin prospects of peace." He demanded India stop attacks on Pakistani citizens.

Major-General Ghafoor said the country has been countering terrorism and extremism and promoting peace in the region, adding the country has even supported the US on its side of border by eliminating the terrorist safe havens and the US should do the same in Afghanistan, as large area of the war-hit country is out of control of Kabul.

He said Pakistan's efforts in the war on terror have been acknowledged at different platforms. "If Pakistan had not played its positive role, today West and East Germany might still be different countries," he said referring to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

Warning India and others in the region against attempting to sabotage the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the DG ISPR said, "The benefits from the economic corridor will be for the region, not just for Pakistan and China." "Our desire for peace cannot and should not be considered a weakness," he cautioned.

Major General Ghafoor wondered that even after so many contributions, Pakistan is still being questioned. "Questioning us undermines our achievements," he said. To a question regarding increasing land forces in light of a perception being created across the eastern border of an impending conflict, the DG ISPR said not to underestimate Pakistan's response capability to India. "Our armed forces are response ready," he said. He added that the world is aware of the consequences when two nuclear states are involved in a conflict. "You must trust your forces and know that nothing is lacking in our response [preparedness] to India."

Regarding extending an invitation to the Indian ambassador on Pakistan Day march, he said the move "shows our diplomatic values." "We are a responsible country and invited them to let them witness the resilience of Pakistan," he added. Highlighting the positive shift in the security situation in the country, the DG ISPR hailed hosting the Pakistan Super League eliminator matches and final matches in Lahore and Karachi respectively as a major achievement.

Stating that the security situation in Karachi has improved markedly, the DG ISPR said, adding "Today, Karachi is very different from what it was in 2013. There's no concept of shutter-down strikes in the metropolis anymore." He further said that sick industries in the port city are reviving and hotel occupancy is back to one hundred percent.

Major-General Ghafoor also paid tribute to the role of and sacrifices made by security agencies in improving the security situation in Pakistan. "Twenty-six major operations, 23,318 information-based operations (IBOs), establishment of 7,738 checkposts and recovery of over 23,000 weapons are parts of Raddul Fasaad," he said.

"Intelligence agencies have had a lead role in this 'war on terror', effects of which have also reached Afghanistan. If we are successful today it is because of intelligence agencies such as ISI, Military Intelligence and Intelligence Bureau among others. They are the first line of defense and we should be proud of them," he said.

The DG ISPR credited the intelligence agencies for busting seven major terrorist networks, namely Ansar-ul-Sharia, Jamatul Ahrar Kurram, TTS Lahore, TTP Swabi TTs Dir/Swat chapter and Intiqam-e-Waziristan Group. Responding to a question about a protest by Pashtun Tahafuz Movement about landmines installed by the Pakistan Army in FATA and KP that left 80 persons disabled, the DG ISPR said the situation in the region was not what it was anymore.

"I believe most of you have gone for yourself and seen the current situation in FATA and KP," he said. "The intensity of violence in FATA and KP that once existed in the region is not the same anymore." Major-General Ghafoor further said, "No responsible Pakistani justified the killing of Naqeebullah Mehsud. We demand an investigation to be conducted into Naqeebullah's killing and for those responsible to be dealt with according to law."

The military spokesperson said that the year started with Donald Trump's infamous tweet which affected the overall environment of the region and Pakistan's bilateral relations with the US. However, he said, while the US is a superpower, the world's stance is changing from being geopolitical-centric to focusing on geo-economy.

Answering a question pertaining to rumors referring to 'secret' meetings between the CoAS and Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif, the DG said it is routine for the CoAS to meet CMs of different provinces. When the CoAS proposed the fencing of the border, Shahbaz called and offered monetary assistance, thus, meetings and calls between the army and ministers are nothing out of the ordinary, he added.

The military's spokesperson also elaborated on General Bajwa's numerous foreign trips in recent months and said the visits were made to gain better insight, improve security relations, and work towards cooperation with these countries. "The CoAS has visited Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Germany and Brunei and he is currently in Malaysia, as I speak," he added.

He further stated that the Army Chief's visit to Iran has led to improving border communication, resulting in better security in Balochistan and enhancing development in the province. Major General Ghafoor also clarified, "Army has nothing to do with the NRO. Things are moving according to a system."

"As I have discussed with you, speculations are made when discussions are held. The army's point of view [however] is disseminated through either the DG ISPR or talks held by the Army Chief and there is an official press release for it," he stressed. "The Pakistan Army is a very organized institution and we will communicate any discussion to you through the official channel," Major General Ghafoor said.

Regarding upcoming elections, the DG ISPR responded saying, "Please understand that 2018 is an election year and there will be a lot of political and election activity and it should be seen in that light." "Other institutions, too, are performing their jobs and Pakistan will only develop and become more secure when every institution will perform its job, without any fear, while remaining in its jurisdiction as prescribed in the Constitution," he added,

Furthermore, he said, "The Army will not announce the election. The Election Commission of Pakistan will announce [the elections] and the sitting government and interim government have a role in it." Major General Ghafoor added, "The Army, in the context of elections, will do every job that the government and ECP will assign to it within the Constitution in aid of civil power."

Replying to a question about general elections, he said, "We are as good a citizen as you are when it comes to the time frame of holding elections or not." Discussing the terms between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, Major General Ghafoor said the two countries have had a bilateral security agreement since 1982. "Our armed forces go to the countries with which Pakistan has bilateral terms," he said. He added, "Pakistani troops have still not been sent to Saudi Arabia."

Copyright Business Recorder, 2018

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