DG ISPR warns PTM against agitating state

Director General (DG) Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Major General Asif Ghafoor said on Thursday that the Pakistan army was trying to handle the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) with calmness but the members of the movement should not ‘cross the line.’

The spokesman for the military held a news conference and said that the supporters of the movement were hurt as they have suffered in the war. He added that the army was still in favour of treating them with kindness but considering the direction toward which they are headed, the army would have to deal with them as others before them were treated when they caused chaos.

While addressing the conference, Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor summarized the PTM’s three demands along with the steps taken to address them. PTM first demand was over the removal of check posts. The military spokesman informed the reporters that the Pakistan Army had decreased its check posts in KP-FATA to 331. “When we know that there was no longer a need for check posts, they would all be removed,” he said.

Speaking about the second demand, the military spokesperson said that work was being done for the fulfillment of the PTM’s second demand – to clear landmines. “Troops of the army have also suffered casualties due to these mines and unexploded bombs. We will clear the area of mines one day,” he added.

The PTM’s third demand was war over missing people and the Asif Ghafoor said that there were 7,000 mission people cases from 2010-11. “From these 7,000 cases, over 4,000 have been settled. 3,000 plus cases are under process with 2,000 cases with the commission,” he added.

According to Ghafoor, the reports could not be verified that the missing people were not part of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) or any other faction and for that they were working to move the process further for it to be resolved. He stressed that the PTM was headed in a direction where they might cross the line and the state would have to use force against them.

Upon being questioned regarding the recent statement given by Prime Minister Imran Khan saying that the army was supporting PTI’s manifesto, the DG ISPR stated that he had listened to the PM’s interview thrice and believed that the statement was taken out of context.

In his statements on Pakistan’s security situation, DG ISPR said that terrorist incidents had decreased in Pakistan. Pakistan’s war on terror had been mostly fought in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and FATA. He said that Balochistan made up 43 per cent of the country with only 6 per cent of the population. “We have changed our deployment according to the geography of the province,” he said.

The DG ISPR spoke about the accountability process of the Pakistan Army, said, “We are a disciplined force. There is a chain of command and rules and regulations. There is a branch which is tasked with discipline and accountability.” He added that despite the measures in place if rules were violated punishment was given.

Director General (DG) Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Major General Asif Ghafoor has expressed concern over the increasing ceasefire violations on the Line of Control (LoC) and Working Boundary by the Indian forces.

The DG ISPR stated that Pakistan is a confident and responsible nuclear state and any misadventure from India would be responded in a befitting manner. He stated this while addressing a news conference in Rawalpindi on Thursday. He said that Pakistan wants stability in the region as war has always brought destruction and miseries to people.

He said that 55 civilians have so far been martyred in the ceasefire violations by the Indian forces this year, which was the highest number in the history during this period. He also said that the Indian forces were deliberately targeting civilians across the LoC.

The DG ISPR said that Pakistan has taken several positive initiatives for peace with India, and the latest one was groundbreaking of Kartarpur corridor. He said that the corridor will be constructed in six months and four thousand Sikh pilgrims would be able to visit Kartarpur daily.

Asif Ghafoor regretted that the Kartarpur corridor initiative was negatively painted in India. However, he hoped that India would positively respond to this goodwill gesture. Regarding Afghan peace process, the DG ISPR said this political reconciliation must succeed.

Assuring Pakistan’s cooperation for the process, the DG ISPR said Pakistan would facilitate the Afghan peace process to the maximum level. He also said that Pakistan has held the stance that political reconciliation was the only solution to the Afghan conflict. He further said that Pakistan was fencing its 2611-kilometer border with Afghanistan to check cross-border terrorism.

He said that the number of check posts have been significantly reduced while 44 per cent of the area has been cleared of mines. Similarly, he said, 4,000 out of 7,000 cases of missing persons have been settled, while the process was underway in the remaining cases. He urged the media to play its effective role in projecting a soft image of Pakistan as it did to shape public opinion against terrorism.

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