ISLAMABAD - Pakistan Army says it has no "direct involvement" in the Panamagate investigation, which appears to have brought the ruling Sharif family into a blind alley.

Army spokesman Maj-Gen Asif Ghafoor on Sunday also said that those who believe that army was pulling the strings in Panama affair "are under foreign influence" – a diplomatic way to call someone disloyal.

He was addressing a press conference to announce the launch of another military offensive along the Pak-Afghan border and also tell the people how much progress the armed forces have made against terrorism.

Codenamed as Khyber-IV, the new operation seeks to purge the Rajgal Valley of terrorists and prevent infiltration of Daesh, which have got strongholds across the border in Afghanistan, the director general of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) informed the journalists.

When his attention was drawn towards speculation regarding the army 's involvement in the report submitted to Supreme Court by the joint investigation team [JIT], he said there is "no direct army involvement".

"The JIT was made by the Supreme Court. Two of its members belong to the Inter-Services Intelligence and Military Intelligence. It is a subjudice case, and it will go to court," he said.

"There is no direct army involvement in the JIT," he asserted, adding that the "Pakistan Army will continue playing its role for the security of Pakistan with other institutions." Maj-Gen Asif added that "political talk is in the political domain."

The SC-sanctioned JIT probed the Sharif family's wealth for around 60 days as part of the Panamagate case and produced a report that is being considered too damaging for Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who is now being demanded by most of the opposition parties to resign.

The ruling party says the whole affair is part of a conspiracy to dethrone Nawaz. As the JIT during its investigations would repeatedly summon members of Sharif family and others, and grill them for hours, the PML-N leaders kept hinting that army was the real write of the script.

Now that the probe team has submitted its report to the SC, which is resuming Panama case hearing today, many neutral observers believe that army could be supporting the efforts to at least send Sharifs packing, if not the whole government and assemblies.

"Every person has freedom of opinion," the DG ISPR said. People who believe that the army is doing its best for the country are not part of the campaign to discredit the institution on social media, he said, adding that those who believe otherwise "are under foreign influence".

Asif Ghafoor also read out a message from army chief during the press conference.

"We are building peace in our country brick by brick and moving from relative stability towards enduring peace. For this, the army should continue to perform its role with support of all other state institutions," he quoted Genral Qamar Javed Bajwa as saying.

Khyber-IV

About the new military operation, he said, “The armed forces have launched a major offensive in the Rajgal Valley as part of the ongoing [countrywide] Operation Raddul Fasaad.”

Daish has increased its influence on the Afghan side and the objective of this operation is to check their cross border intrusion to carryout terrorist activities on this side of the border, said the director general of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).

He said one division troops with the support of Pakis tan Air Force are taking part in the operation as the Rajgal Valley is the toughest terrain in Fata.

He said international border with Afghanistan will be fully secured to check infiltration of terrorists and to destroy their hideouts in our side of the border.

Asif Ghafoor said that around 500 families had been living in this area, who are now staying at safer places as Temporarily Displaced Persons. He said due to effective security operations in the tribal belt, incidents of terrorism have reasonably been declined in the country.

Border fencing and coordinated actions

About Afghanistan, Asif Ghafoor said Afghan forces are losing their hold over their areas. He said Afghan forces will have to strengthen their footprint to check the influence of terrorist outfits like Daish.

He said Pakistan has also decided to fence its entire border with Afghanistan and first phase of fencing is underway. He said we will also ensure physical and technical surveillance of the fence. Pakistan believes in an open door policy with Afghanistan however, he added.

Asif Ghafoor while referring to some reports suggesting a joint border operation with Afghan forces clarified that such reports had surfaced during a visit made by a top-level United States Congressional delegation.

"The true meaning of a joint operation is when both forces conduct operations at the same time. There is a coordinated and complementary operation on their respective sides of the border."

Information would be shared with Kabul if the Afghan leadership wished to conduct supporting operations and coordination in this regard is ongoing, he elaborated.

ISPR DG however clarified that Pakistan Army itself would conduct all operations on its side of the border. "No other force will have boots on the ground in our country. All operations are conducted by Pakistani security forces," he asserted.

Any coordinated operations with Afghanistan will be meant for actions by both the countries on their respective territories, he added.

Answering another question, there is no timeline for the operation as yet; Ghafoor said and added that the Pakistan army had informed Afghan security forces ahead of the launch of the Khyber-4 operation in Rajgal.

To a question, Asif said Raymond Davis has written his book as contractor and such books have their own agendas, which could be exposed later on.

LoC and Kulbhushan

Elaborating on the situation on the Line of Control, ISPR DG said India is committing massive ceasefire violations on LoC to divert world attention from the grave human rights violations and indigenous struggle of the people in the Occupied Kashmir.

To a question, he said Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa will take a final decision on the appeal of Indian spy Kulbhushan Jhadav at the earliest. He assured that the decision of the army chief will be based on justice.

Answering a question, he said China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is very critical for the development of the country. He said the security forces of Pakistan are very vigilant to foil enemies' designs against CPEC.

Review on Raddul Fassad

Earlier, he gave a detailed review of the ongoing operation Raddul Fassad. ISPR chief said 46 major operations and over 9,000 intelligence based operations were launched, while 107,07 joint check posts were established across Pakistan.

Thirteen major operations and over 800 IBOs were conducted in Balochistan.

In Sindh, 522 terrorists voluntarily surrendered while 15 were killed.

In Punjab, six major operations and over 7,000 IBOs were carried out. Twenty two terrorists were also killed.

In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 27 major operations were launched, while 817 intelligence based operations were also conducted.

Commenting on security situation in Karachi, ISPR DG said incidents of terrorism have declined by 98 percent in the port city.

He said Pakistan has also decided to fence its entire border with Afghanistan and first phase of fencing is underway. He said we will also ensure physical and technical surveillance of the fence. Pakistan believes in an open door policy with Afghanistan however, he added.

Asif Ghafoor while referring to some reports suggesting a joint border operation with Afghan forces clarified that such reports had surfaced during a visit made by a top-level United States Congressional delegation.

"The true meaning of a joint operation is when both forces conduct operations at the same time. There is a coordinated and complementary operation on their respective sides of the border."

Information would be shared with Kabul if the Afghan leadership wished to conduct supporting operations and coordination in this regard is ongoing, he elaborated.

ISPR DG however clarified that Pakistan Army itself would conduct all operations on its side of the border. "No other force will have boots on the ground in our country. All operations are conducted by Pakistani security forces," he asserted.

Any coordinated operations with Afghanistan will be meant for actions by both the countries on their respective territories, he added.

Answering another question, there is no timeline for the operation as yet; Ghafoor said and added that the Pakistan army had informed Afghan security forces ahead of the launch of the Khyber-4 operation in Rajgal.

To a question, Asif said Raymond Davis has written his book as contractor and such books have their own agendas, which could be exposed later on.