Pakistan Army spokesperson warned the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement to not cross the line and compel them to use force.
We will charge them once the time comes, said ISPR DG Major General Asif Ghafoor on Thursday. “We are not using force against them because they are hurt. They have lost their loved ones in the war against terrorism," he said
The PTM had three main demands — a reduction in the number of check posts, clearance of mines and missing persons, he said while speaking to media.
The Pakistan Army has reduced its number of check posts after the conditions improved, he explained, adding that there were 469 check posts in KP and FATA in 2016 and now there are 331.
Major General Ghafoor remarked that 44% of the area has been cleared of mines and further work is under way. “We have lost many troops because of un-exploded bombs,” he said.
The PTM gave us a list of 7,000 to 9,000 missing persons initially, he said. In 2010 or 2011, a commission was formed on enforced disappearances, he explained, adding that these cases were being investigated by the commission and some complaints were being heard in court too. At least 7,000 cases were being heard, he said. “Over 4,000 cases have been resolved,” he said.
Currently, 3,000 cases are being processed, and the commission is hearing 2,000 cases. “How can we tell that the missing people were not a part of the TTP?” he asked. The establishment has supported the PTM’s three main demands, he said.
The Kartarpur corridor will be a one-way route, said ISPR DG Major General Asif Ghafoor. It will only be for pilgrims from India to visit Gurdwara Darbar Sahib and Pakistanis will not be allowed to use it.
Indians travelling to the gurdwara via the Kartarpur border will not be allowed to travel within the rest of the country.
He said that India has been spreading negative propaganda against it. “The place of worship is near the border and its entry has been fenced with barbed wire. Pilgrims will arrive and go back from there. Pakistan has no provision to go to India from this corridor,” said Major General Ghafoor. It will facilitate 4,000 pilgrims every day, he said.
Relations with India
He also said that ceasefire violations by the Indian Border Forces increased in 2017 and 2018. He said that compared to 2003, ceasefire violations have increased. In 2018, India violated the LoC at least 2,593 times, he added. Fifty-five civilians have been killed and more than 300 injured this year.
“Indian forces deliberately target civilians,” he remarked. “India needs to understand the effect such ceasefire violations have on our relations.”
India doesn’t have the right to tell us the kind of state we are, he said. “They should first try to become secular [themselves].”
Prime Minister Imran Khan, in a special interview, had remarked that the Pakistan Army stands by the PTI's manifesto. Explaining the statement, the ISPR DG said it needs to be understood in context to what the premier was saying. "He [Khan] said that any country that is facing security threats takes the opinion of security institutions."
The Pakistan Army is the country's force. It is not related to any one party or province, he remarked.
‘Decrease in terrorism’
Terror incidents have decreased in the country, according to Major General Ghafoor. In 2013, seven to eight terror attacks occurred every day and now the number has fallen considerably, he said. Civilian casualties have also reduced. “We are moving towards complete peace,” he said.
He remarked that the Pakistan Army has shifted its focus to Balochistan after curbing terrorism in KP. “Balochistan is 43% of our geography, where 6% of the population lives.”
We had check posts in Quetta before, but we have readjusted the number now, he said. The ISPR DG remarked that abduction cases in Balochistan have gone down from 119 in 2016 to 46 in 2018. "Terror attacks are decreasing too."
In Karachi, law and order has improved a lot in last few years, he said. In 2013, at least 330 cases of terrorism were reported and 1,762 targeted killings, said the ISPR head. He added that no terror attacks were reported in 2017 and there were two attacks this year — a car blast and the attack on the Chinese consulate.
There has been a 99% decrease in terrorism, 97% decrease in targeted killings and 93% decrease in kidnapping for ransom. “The credit goes to the Sindh Rangers and law enforcement agencies,” he remarked.
Rebuilding the country
He remarked that the country has many ‘fault lines’, including its economy, weak governance, the judicial system, education system, and religious extremism. “We are at a watershed,” he said. The country is developing, so why would we want to reverse it, he asked. “Do we have to continue like this or move towards progress?” he questioned.
“We shall rebuild our country brick by brick to have a ‘normalized Pakistan’ where there is rule of law as per the Constitution of Pakistan, the prerogative of violence rests with the state alone and where no individual is above institutions and no institution is above the country,” said Major General Ghafoor while reading the message of the army chief.
In 2017-18, more than 400 officers of the Pakistan Army have been punished over their conduct, he said, adding that this includes officers of all ranks. An officer was sentenced for corruption of Rs10,000.
On the Taliban peace progress, he remarked that no war can end with a kinetic operation. Pakistan has been saying since the start that political reconciliation is needed, he said. “We want the US to leave Afghanistan as a friend of the region,” he said.
“We have tried our best to curb terror attacks,” he said, adding that if Pakistan gets an assurance from Afghanistan, it will call back the 200,000 troops deployed along the border.
He said that media is the fourth pillar of the state. "You are the opinion makers, domestically and internationally." He added, "You are the first line of defence in fifth generation warfare." He said that media should report responsibly and focus on country's positive aspects.