LONDON - Inter-Services Public Relations Director General Major General Asif Ghafoor has said that Pakistan Army has no role in the process of accountability and drive against corruption.

The ISPR DG said this while talking to reporters at the Pakistani High Commission in London on Saturday.

“We have our hands full on the eastern and western border; the army is having to maintain the security of the country. Army has its own stringent mechanism of accountability and it’s the most robust and toughest. It happens at various levels and no one is above accountability,” he said.

He emphasised that Army believes only democracy is the way forward and as an institution, Pakistan Army has provided full support to democratic institutions. “We will work to make sure that democracy continues in Pakistan,” said Asif Ghafoor, who is accompanying Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa on his visit to the United Kingdom. “Whenever the army chief talks to any foreign dignitary, we talk about Pakistan and not about the army,” he added.

The ISPR DG called on all institutions to stand by each other and work together. “Army always stands by institutions, not with individuals.”

Asif Ghafoor emphasised Pakistan’s success in the war against terrorism. “We are the only success story in the Muslim world in terms of what we have achieved. 76,000 people have laid down their lives for peace and stability in Pakistan,” he said.

The military spokesman stated that due to the war against terrorism, systems in Pakistan had eroded. “We need to correct those systems and in the last five years those systems have started working well.”

He spoke of incidents of terrorism diminishing the country and the crime rate decreasing in Karachi. “There used to be 2-3 blasts a day, but it has been peaceful. Karachi has come down in the crime index. Our bureaucracy and others have worked together.”

The ISPR DG stressed that when systems are strong the country will prosper. “Every institution has to work within a policy parameter. Today’s Pakistan is much better than before.”

When asked about polarisation and political divisions in Pakistan, Asif Ghafoor said there was no country in the world without political differences. “The beauty of democracy is that political differences exist. Pakistan has the same but differences should be ethical and without abuses and attacks. Through the power of vote first, the PML-N governed, then the PTI and in the future, it will be someone else.”

He lamented that the army had been dragged into some matters. “Pakistan Army is an organised institution. We have to strengthen all institutions including the police and bureaucracy.”

Citing the example of the United Kingdom, the ISPR DG stressed that police was more powerful than the army and the same could happen in Pakistan as well. “The army can fight terrorists but this is the job of the police and our army has been doing the job of the police for many years.”

According the DG, police and judicial reforms were important and it was the government’s responsibility to bring reforms and legislation.

He further spoke on the role of the international media and how positive stories about Pakistan were not carried but negativity was highlighted.

“A case in point is reforms in FATA. We have not seen any objective story in the western press about this, but reports keep coming up on alleged human rights violations.”

The spokesman added that in Pakistan there was freedom of expression, but the media faced pressures related to the economy.

He said the PML-N government had listened to each and every demand of the Army and provided funds for the fence on the porous border. “The PML-N government approved the operation against militancy and fully cooperated. We cannot allow a porous border. The barricade is not meant to be a divide between the two countries.”

The ISPR DG said the 2018 general elections were the most transparent and free, with the Army ensuring that people voted according to their will on polling day. “There has been a record turnout in various parts of the country. Voters made their own choice and were not told who to vote for or not.”

The military spokesman stressed that allegations of rigging had been made, but there was no evidence brought forward.

He, commenting on his “the year of change” tweet, said this was taken out of context. He informed reporters that former Chief of Army Staff General (retd) Raheel Sharif was in Saudi Arabia on a contract approved by the government. He also spoke of former General (retd) Pervez Musharraf, who was out of Pakistan because he came into politics.

“The fact is that he [Musharraf] is an army general and the army has nothing to do with his politics. We have no linkage with ex-president Musharraf regarding his politics.”

He dispelled impressions that seven former army generals were outside of Pakistan, telling reporters that only Raheel Sharif and Musharraf were outside, while Kayani, Kakar and Karamat live in the country.

Asif Ghafoor categorically stated that the surgical strike is a myth and India was running lies to discredit Pakistan. He warned Pakistan would launch ten if India launched one surgical strike. “We have the power to retaliate within 10 minutes if any adventure is carried out. There should be no doubt about that,” he asserted.

He said the freedom movement of Kashmiris is indigenous and does not have external support. “Independence of Kashmir is in the DNA of Kashmiris, the movement for freedom is completely independent, India knows it well that there is no interference from Pakistan, Kashmiris are fighting for the war of their survival and India knows Kashmiris are right and they will win and the struggle of Kashmiris will be won by Kahsmiris. They are freedom fighters and not terrorists; India has used every kind of power to suppress Kashmiris but failed.”

The ISPR DG said Pakistan has no issue with the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) but there are concerns about the way it’s operating and the message it is trying to portray to mislead Pakistanis. He said the PTM leader was a Pakistani who studied at an army school and at no point the army has said anything against him.

“The issue is wider and beyond any individual. Army has made unprecedented sacrifices in FATA and other areas, coming to the area and clearing it of terrorists who had made these areas havens of terrorism against Pakistan. We cannot forget that it’s in these areas that Pakistanis and its armed forces were attacked and football played with the remains of the deceased. Where were all those people then when terror was being unleashed from these areas? There was no hue and cry then but now that we have made these areas safe and secure our enemies are doing their best to sow seeds of discord amongst Pakistanis. We understand that Manzoor Pashteen has no power to organise these protests abroad but we do know who is behind these protests and the sources of funding.”

Commenting on the visit, Asif Ghafoor said there had been great interaction with UK military and civilian leaders. “We are a relevant country and governments like the UK want positive engagement with us which we have always welcomed.”

He added that Pakistan wanted foreign forces in Afghanistan to succeed.

Commenting on CPEC, the ISPR DG said the project will strengthen the country’s economy and it is the responsibility of the armed forces to provide security to the project. He went on to say that today’s Pakistan is better than yesterday’s Pakistan, adding we are heading towards better circumstances.

“There is nothing better than national unity,” he said. Regarding general elections, the ISPR DG said that Pakistan Army has been accused of rigging in general elections, adding if anyone who has evidence of rigging against the armed forces should come forward.

Later in a tweet, Asif Ghafoor said candid discussion with Pakistani media in London was held on various national security issues. “Pakistani media abroad has a national responsibility to project positive narrative of Pakistan. Thanks to them for doing their bit,” he said.