Maj-Gen Ahmed Sharif, Director General (DG) of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), said on Tuesday that the army was focused on eliminating terrorism from the country and that it respected all political parties.
He expressed his views during a press conference on national security and terrorism, his first press briefing since taking over as head of the military’s media affairs wing.
Situation at borders
Maj-Gen Sharif stated at the start of his press conference that the army’s anti-terror operations would be the focus of today’s briefing.
“In the coming year, we will shed light on security and terrorism issues,” he said, starting the briefing with the situation on Pakistan’s eastern border with India and the Line of Control (LoC) – a de facto boundary that divides Kashmir between India and Pakistan.
“The situation at the Line of Control has remained relatively peaceful since the restoration of the 2003 ceasefire agreement,” he stated while criticizing India for its “false propaganda.”
“Fake propaganda on infiltration and technical air violations show India’s special political agenda,” he claimed.
According to Maj-Gen Sharif, India violated the LoC ceasefire 56 times this year, including three airspace violations, 22 episodes of speculative firing, six ceasefire violations, and 25 technical airspace violations.
Meanwhile, he stated that the Pakistan Army has shot down six spy quadcopters and that the “Pakistan Army is ready to [deal with] any such attempts by India.”
Meanwhile, terrorists have been attempting to undermine peace on the country’s western borders in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, according to Maj-Gen Sharif, adding that security forces, police, and other law enforcement agencies have been involved in foiling their efforts.
He stressed that Pakistan’s military forces were focused on border security. “In this regard, Pakistan’s forces, law enforcement agencies, and intelligence agencies have taken commendable steps in tracking down terrorist networks, and we will continue to do so.”
According to the DG ISPR, links between the proscribed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan and Baloch terrorist groups have been established in terrorism occurrences.
He went on to say that 436 terrorist acts have occurred in the country during the current year, with 293 people killed and 521 injured.
According to him, 192 people were slain and 330 were injured in KP, while 80 people were martyred and 170 were injured in Balochistan.
Meanwhile, 14 people were killed and three were injured in Punjab, he said. Similarly, seven people were killed and 18 were injured in Sindh.
According to the DG ISPR, security personnel carried out 8,269 intelligence-based operations this year. He claimed that 1,525 terrorists were apprehended or killed during these operations.
According to him, 3,531 of these operations were carried out in KP, with 159 terrorists killed or apprehended, 119 in Punjab, and 519 in Sindh.
“To rid the country of terrorism, more than 70 operations are conducted daily,” he added.
“It is very important to note that there are no no-go areas in Pakistan today due to the sacrifices of the public and army,” the DG ISPR said, adding that certain terrorists remained active in various areas of the country, but “they are being hunted down every day.”
“They (terrorists) procured illegal weapons and ammunition… “Terrorist facilitators and planners have also been apprehended and exposed,” he claimed.
The attacks on a mosque in Peshawar Police Lines in January and the Karachi Police Office (KPO) in February, according to Maj-Gen Sharif, reflected the “nefarious intentions of terrorists” and demonstrated that “they have nothing to do with the state or Islam.”
He said that the incident at Peshawar Police Lines was carried out on the orders of TTP by the outlawed outfit Jamaatul Ahrar, and that the suicide bomber was an Afghan citizen from Kunduz. Imtiaz, the suicide bomber, was apprehended in Bajaur, he added.
Other terrorists who were trained in Afghanistan by Jamaatul Ahrar and TTP’s Maulvi Abdul Baseer alias Aizam Safi, according to the DG ISPR, were also apprehended.
Regarding the KPO incident, Maj-Gen Sharif stated that the three terrorists who carried it out were killed in retaliatory action by security troops. “Three masterminds of this attack were also apprehended.”
“Arms and ammunition were seized from the custody of these terrorists,” he claimed, adding that they had arrived in Karachi via Hub. He also stated that the KPO was scouted for eight months before to the strike.
According to the DG ISPR, 137 security personnel have been killed and 117 have been injured in anti-terror operations this year.
“The entire nation salutes them for laying down their lives for the sake of the country.” And this [also] demonstrates that no one should doubt Pakistan’s army, intelligence services, and law enforcement agencies devotion, resolve, and ability to put an end to the scourge of terrorism.”
He also announced the arrest of proscribed Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) leader Gulzar Imam and stated that the Pakistan Army’s victories in combating terrorism, despite internal and external challenges, were not hidden from anyone.
“When compared to other countries, Pakistan’s approach to fighting terrorism has been recognized by the world as unprecedented.”
“Our successful war against terrorism will continue until the last terrorist is eliminated,” he declared.
Maj-Gen Sharif also stated that tasks carried out as part of the western border routine were nearing completion. “Fencing along the 2,611 border fencing along the Pak-Afghan frontier is 98 percent complete,” he added.
Similarly, he stated that 85 percent of the fencing along the Pakistan-Iran border had been finished, as had 85 percent of the construction of forts along the Pakistan-Afghan border and 33 percent along the Pakistan-Iran border.
During the briefing, the DG ISPR also mentioned socio-economic uplift and called the Reko Diq mining project in Balochistan a “important milestone” in the province’s growth.
He added that Chief of Army Staff Asim Munir (COAS) had visited Gwadar and directed that a portion of the army’s budget be reallocated for development projects in the area.
“Complete security is being provided for these schemes to ensure their timely completion,” he added.
‘Army respects all politicians, parties’
When asked about former army chief Gen (R) Qamar Javed Bajwa’s claimed continuous influence on the military, the DG ISPR said everyone had the right to analyse, but the “centre of real power” for incumbent army chief Gen Asim Munir was the nation.
“In terms of politics, Pakistan’s army is a national army, and all politicians and political parties are respected by us.” You wouldn’t want it, and neither would we, if the army leaned towards a certain political ideology, vision, or party.”
The DG ISPR stated that it was critical to comprehend the reasoning behind the preceding stance.
“Any country’s army used to support a specific political ideology, religion, or vision has only led to chaos — this is a reality,” he continued.
The chief of the military’s communications wing stated that the army had a “constitutional and non-political” relationship with the government at the time and would always have such a relationship, adding that it was improper to cast that relationship in a political light.