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Pakistan Army on Friday warned India of a "surprise" response if war is imposed against Pakistan and categorically rejected Indian allegations of the country's involvement in the Pulwama suicide attack. Director General of the Pakistan Army's media wing, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), Major General Asif Ghafoor refuted the allegation regarding Pakistan preparing for war and said, "If India initiates war, we will respond right then and there." He added, "Any kind of aggression from Indian forces would not be a surprise for Pakistan, instead, we will give a surprise to India."
"Pakistan is not preparing for war. Threats and reports of a war are coming from your side. We are only using our right to self-defence," he said while addressing Indian leadership's threats of waging war on Pakistan. He said Pakistan Army's battle-hardened forces would provide a military response that would catch India off guard if and when necessary.
"We have defended our country against terrorism [...] We are battle hardened," he explained. "It was difficult to fight an invisible enemy. India is a non-threat," he said. "We have studied you for 70 years, watched you, and prepared our capability for you. Our response will also be for you."
"Because you initiate, we shall also escalate the domination ladder. We shall have a superior force ratio at decisive points. Never think that due to our commitments elsewhere we will have any capacity lack," he continued.
"We have singleness of conception ? from the Prime Minister, down to a citizen, from the three chiefs down to each soldier, all political parties, and all segments of life. We have a singleness of conception, and the will and the determination, the ways and means to reach our desired end state. We can respond to full-spectrum threat," Maj Gen Ghafoor warned. "I hope you get this message and don't mess with Pakistan."
Despite India's efforts to diplomatically isolate Pakistan since 2016, foreign heads of state and government and dignitaries have been visiting, foreign investment is pouring in, development on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is underway, and military cooperation and diplomacy are also ongoing, he stated.
Major General Ghafoor continued, "64% of our population is youth and we are in a fifth generation warfare, so their target is the youth of Pakistan." While briefing in the context of Pakistan-India ties since Partition, Gen Ghafoor said that though it has been 70 years since then, India could not digest the 1947 independence of Pakistan.
"Whenever there is anything important with respect to Pakistan, or the country is moving towards stability, there is always some sort of staged incident in either India or occupied Kashmir," the DG ISPR said, adding that such incidents also seem to occur when India is just months away from elections.
"In 1965, tensions emerged at the LoC and our country which was progressing was affected. Then in 1971, our distance from East Pakistan was exploited, however, we were able to get through that as well because of our resilience. From 1971 to 1984, there were no incidents on our eastern border and we began progressing again. But then one day, the Siachen incident happened when the Pakistan Army wasn't there," he said.
He continued, "Then India moved towards nuclear weapons and in 1998, we obtained nuclear power. Then in 2008 we were fighting a decisive war against militants and emerging successful so India started to mobilise its troops on the border."
"In Dec 2001 ? the Indian parliament attack ? India was supposed to have general elections and the presidential election in 2002, the United Nations General Assembly was in session. It was around this time that an influx of terrorists began on Pakistan's western border following 9/11.
"When the Mumbai attack took place, our progress in the war on terror was quite good and at this time too, there were to be general elections in India from February to December. On Jan 2, 2016, the Pathankot happened. The President of the United States' State of the Union address was due. India was to see state elections and there were foreign secretary-level talks scheduled between India and Pakistan. That was scuttled," he said.
"The Uri incident happened on Sept 18, 2016, when our Prime Minister was set to go to the UNGA to deliver a speech," he added.
"So this pattern shows whenever in Pakistan there is some important event due, some staged action of this sort takes place," Maj Gen Ghafoor noted.
He further pointed out that there were eight important events taking place either in Pakistan or involving Pakistan in the period Feb-March 2019: the Saudi crown prince's visit and investment conference; discussion on United Nations Security Council terror listing; Afghan peace talks; European Union discussion on occupied Kashmir; hearing of Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav's case at the International Court of Justice (ICJ); discussion on FATF report; meeting between Pakistan, Indian officials on Kartarpur Corridor developments; and PSL matches to be played in Pakistan.
The DG ISPR also asserted that India is to hold elections in the coming months even as "an indigenous struggle in occupied Kashmir is at its peak and out of India's control." He questioned while wondering what benefit Pakistan could get out of such an attack.
The DG ISPR noted certain technical details regarding the Pulwama attack and the claim of responsibility made in a video by a Kashmiri youth that made it appear doubtful that Pakistan had any role in the attack.
"India began with allegations immediately right after the attack without giving a second thought and without any evidence in hand," Ghafoor said.
"From the Line of Control onwards, Indian security forces have layered defences," he said, explaining that there were layered lines of defence, one after another.
"How is it possible for anyone from Pakistan to cross the LoC and go to some area where the population of security forces is greater than that of locals?" he questioned.
"You (India) should question your security forces that 'You've been sitting here for decades, you spend so much on defence, how was this infiltration possible?" he stated.
"The Pulwama attack happened miles away from the LoC. The explosives that were employed were being used by the administration and security forces in occupied Kashmir, it didn't go there from Pakistan," Maj Gen Ghafoor said. "The car that was used was also local [to Kashmir]. It did not go there from Pakistan."
Talking about the suicide bomber, he said, "In 2017, he had remained under arrest and Indian security forces maltreated him [...] The way he was pushed to the path, he gave this violent response."
The army's spokesman said that an expert technical analysis of the claim video ? looking at quality, the distance from which it was shot, how it was dubbed, what weapons were visible ? could provide a lot of clues to observers. "Look at the class composition of the soldiers who were killed in the attack," he suggested. Dar's funeral in absentia was attended by thousands in Kashmir. "It is an indication of the state of affairs in Kashmir," he asserted.
The army's spokesman also observed that a social media chatter in India had predicted months ago that such an attack would take place as the country rolls into election mode.
The DG ISPR reiterated Prime Minister Imran Khan's offer to New Delhi to investigate the attack, hold talks, and eradicate terrorism from the region.
"The biggest threat to regional peace is the Kashmir issue. Come, let's talk about it and resolve it [...] Your policy of violence in occupied Kashmir has failed. You need to introspect," he said, addressing the Indian government. There is a need for introspection in India as to why Kashmiris ? tired of the cruelty of Indian security forces ? have begun responding to their violence with "this sort of violence," Ghafoor said.
The DG ISPR pointed out that India is the "world's biggest democracy" and urged it to uphold democratic and secular norms and the rights of Kashmiris and Muslims in India who have recently faced increasing harassment and discrimination in the aftermath of the Pulwama attack. He told India if it wants peace and progress, it shouldn't send spies such as Jadhav into Pakistan and destroy regional peace.
Maj-Gen Ghafoor said he had given "some friends visiting from India a few months ago a message from the army chief" that countries do not and cannot develop alone. "Regions develop. If we also believe that we must develop as a region, we will not go down the path of war." "We expect that you will focus responsibly on Pakistan's offer of peace and won't become a hurdle in the way of regional peace and stability," he told New Delhi.
"The Prime Minister made an offer to India which has never been made before. The premier offered to probe the India if actionable evidence is shared," he maintained. "We hope India will wisely consider Pakistan's offer for peace." He also apprised regarding Operation Radd-ul-Fassad on the completion of two years and said it was a difficult operation against all supporters, facilitators and abettors in which the intelligence agencies including ISI, MI, IB and CTD all worked together to eradicate terrorism.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2019


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