Amid the election hullabaloo, the chief military spokesperson said on Monday that the army should not be dragged into politics or the upcoming general elections.
“No one is happier than the military over the completion of its five-year constitutional tenure by the government,” Major General Asif Ghafoor, the director general of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), told a news conference.
He said that while 2018 is an election year, this does not mean that the military should be dragged into politics. “It is the responsibility of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to conduct the elections and the military has nothing to do with the exercise.” “The military,” he added, “will fulfill the role it has been assigned under the Constitution.”
Various political parties have voiced concerns over creshendoing calls for delaying the election, warning that they would mount agitation if the polls are delayed. The calls for election delay have sparked a guessing game in the political circles about who could be behind this.
On Spy Chronicles, the book former ISI chief Lt-Gen (retd) Asad Durrani co-authored with ex-RAW chief AS Daulat, the military spokesperson said Durrani had retired from the service prematurely due to political reasons and that he had penned down his observations following his retirement. “To document your observations based on the events that occurred after the conclusion of service is wrong,” Lt Gen Ghafoor added.
The military has already ordered an inquiry into the “revelations” made by Durrani in his book while he was also summoned to the military headquarters, the GHQ, to seek an explanation.
Maj Gen Ghafoor said the result of the inquiry into the matter would be out soon. “No one remains a saint if he is in the uniform. Whoever commits mistakes has to face the consequences.” The army, he added, has never forgiven anyone within its ranks guilty of a wrongdoing – be it a general or a soldier.
The military’s spokesperson denied that the army has ever dictated any terms to media organisations, saying whenever the two sides sat down, he had emphasised that Pakistan needed to be united.
He said that India must not confuse Pakistan’s wish for peace with weakness, saying the army would have a cohesive response on any threats that emerge from across the borders, be it from the east or the west.
On Friday, Pakistan and India had agreed to abide by the 2003 ceasefire in a development dubbed as very significant. The agreement came after dozens of people had been killed in countless ceasefire violations by the two sides.
Only days after the agreement, India on Sunday claimed that ceasefire was violated by the Pakistani side and that two of its border guards were killed and several civilians wounded in the fire from the Pakistani side of the border.
On FATA’s merger with Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, the military spokesperson said the nation has learned that Pakistan comes first. He termed the merger a historic success for Pakistan. “Although some tribal elders did not want the merger, but FATA is now part of the K-P and it has to be taken forward towards development and betterment.”
Maj Gen Ghafoor said no other country than Pakistan has the hope that the United States leaves Afghanistan with victory, leaving the country in stability. “We want the Afghan government to be represented by its own people, so that both of us can benefit from the peace. We are ready to provide whatever support is needed in this regard.”
Pakistan, he added, is often blamed for not taking action against the Haqqani Network. “Before Zarb-e-Azb, it was the question of capacity, not the will, but with Zarb-e-Azb we have exterminated all terrorist organisations across the board. Now, we have been left with no militant network or infrastructure in Pakistan, including the Haqqani network.
However, there is this small issue that the residue strength of the banned outfits, comprising small numbers between 2-4, have taken refuge in in different areas, such as Afghan refugee camps. The camps give them the facility to hide, but we believe that we will strongly opt for respectful repatriation of Afghan refugees.”