Pakistan doesn’t have a no first use policy, ISPR chief Major General Asif Ghafoor told the media during a briefing on Wednesday.
This isn’t a state policy and if India wants to change it, the choice is their’s, he said. But there’s always second use, he said. This was in response to Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh recent statement that the future of his country’s no first use policy on nuclear weapons “depends on the circumstances.”
In a series of tweets, Singh said that India remains committed to the doctrine of not using nuclear weapons first but “what happens [in the future] depends on the circumstances”.
You cannot de-link the country’s situation with the overall environment, warned Major General Ghafoor. The world powers have economic interests here and the location is key, he said, adding that it is a relevant region. Major General Ghafoor said Pakistan has 200,000 troops along the Afghan border but plans to reduce the number as peace enters the region. Slowly, we will decrease the troops and then eventually withdraw them, he said.
India is worried that if the Pakistan Army gets relief from its western border following peace in Afghanistan then will it become a threat for India and it believes Pakistan will not able to respond effectively, he said. Wars are not fought just with weapons and economic measures, it is fought with passion, nation’s confidence and the capability of our forces, said Major General Ghafoor. “You can’t put a price on someone’s respect and you should remember what happened on February 27.”
In this environment, India’s actions are taking steps towards war as the region moves towards peace, said Major General Ghafoor. In his first speech, the prime minister made offers of dialogue but Modi sent a fighter jet, he said. The PM has said there will be no more offers, said the ISPR chief.
We think that nuclear powers don’t have any space for war, he said, adding that India, through indirect action, has attacked us since the start. “An example of that is Kulbhushan Jadhav,” he said. Many lives were lost and we suffered financially too because of this, he said.
Discussing Kashmir, he said the situation poses a threat to overall peace in the region. He slammed India’s fascism. With India’s RSS and Nazi ideology, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, and Dalits are all suffering. India has tried to stop us from fighting terrorism for 20 years with provocations and escalations.
Kashmir is like our jugular vein, he said, adding that Pakistan has always, despite Kashmiris’ pain, tried for a peaceful resolution to the issue. International powers haven’t given enough attention to it as it deserves and after India’s illegal August 5 step, the brutalities in the region increased, he said.
This is no longer a Pakistan-India or ideological or geographical issue, he said. He also discussed the conflict and response spectrums and said for 20 years Pakistan and India have been engaging in sub-conventional warfare. The military is just a component of that, he said. The other components are economy, finance, intelligence diplomacy, information and law and these lines of operation are all working, he said. Prime Minister Imran Khan has spoken to 13 world leaders and the foreign minister to 36, he said, adding that the result of this is the world is talking about Kashmir.
Pakistan won’t stop until the August 5 step is reversed, he said, adding that it will never accept any decision that goes against Kashmiris’ right to self-determination. Modi’s government will try to increase atrocities and inbuilt violence and equate it with terrorism, and call the independence fight terrorism, he said. The Pakistan army spokesperson said he believed India will engage in false flag operations and LoC escalations but Pakistan will respond.
“If the other avenues fail, warfighting will become an option by compulsion if not by choice,” he said, adding that no matter the cost, Pakistan will take this to the very end. “Till the last bullet, last soldier and last breath,” he vowed.
He denied that the army chief or any government official struck any deals on Kashmir during the recent US trip. “Over our dead bodies,” he said, adding that if Pakistan hasn’t stepped back in 70 years, why would it do so now.
On army chief’s extension, he denied that the army chief wanted to stay on and said it was because of his “personal rapport” with several world leaders that he was asked to stay.
He said Pakistan’s nuclear weapons are deterrence and that the policy and level of deterrence and when it is to be used is not something that will be shared at a press conference or rally. Our strategic capability as a means of deterrence are weapons of political choice and we can’t talk about it, he said. “What you need to know is not about the weapon or the capacity but the confidence of the nation and decision-making body,” he said.
When it comes to the Eastern border, our entire focus is there, he said, adding that no country or army discloses its plan at a press conference. We have a saying in the military, ‘Don’t take the first step till you think of the end step’, he said adding that they have thought of it all.
In an endnote, the ISPR chief urged people to visit the homes of martyrs on September 6 and show their families that the nation is with them. He also urged people to cooperate with the polio campaign. “This is the future of our children, we have to make it successful,” he said.