ISLAMABAD: In accordance with a report the defense ministry submitted to the Supreme Court, the Pakistan Army’s spokesperson on Tuesday distanced the military from the previous administration’s plan to engage in dialogue with the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP),
a banned organization. The spokesperson also expressed support for holding simultaneous elections nationwide.
Maj-Gen Ahmed Sharif Chaudhry, the director general of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), made this definitive declaration in his first news conference: “Holding dialogue with the banned TTP was the decision of the then-government of Pakistan and they have openly admitted this as well.”
According to him, there is only “kinetic operations” between the army and terrorists, and they will go on until terrorism is completely eradicated.
Gen. Chaudhry noted that terrorist attacks had grown after the US withdrew from Afghanistan and claimed that the TTP and other illegal groups were now collaborating to undermine the peace in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
In 436 terrorist attacks over the course of the past year, at least 293 people have died and 521 have been injured, he claimed, adding that 192 of those deaths occurred in KP. 80 people lost their lives in 206 instances in Balochistan, 14 people in 5 attacks in Punjab, and 7 people in 6 terrorism incidents in Sindh.
He said that over the previous year, the army and law enforcement organizations conducted 8,269 intelligence-based operations that resulted in the capture of 1,378 suspected terrorists and the death of 157 others.
He stated that although the LEAs have swept out all of the country’s prohibited zones, a few terror organizations “are still active.”
Imtiaz alias Tora Shah, a resident of Bajaur, was identified as the “mastermind” of the Peshawar Police Lines attack, Gen. Chaudhry claimed. He said that the TTP’s Jamaatul Ahrar faction had transported the suicide bomber, an Afghan civilian, from Kunduz to Pakistan.
He claimed that efforts were being made to limit the admission of the terrorists operating in Pakistan and that they were receiving their training in various parts of Afghanistan.
According to the DG, the army had examined its operational and non-operational spending in light of the current economic climate and had made the decision to reduce spending on gasoline, food, construction, non-operational procurement, training, and non-operational transportation. The military has promoted internet meetings, simulator training, and technology utilization to reduce these costs.
The spokeswoman refrained from responding categorically to at least three inquiries about the use of army soldiers for election-related tasks.
But he emphasized that the army had provided a thorough explanation in the report delivered to the Supreme Court and the Pakistani Election Commission (ECP).
It should be remembered that the military ministry had asked the Supreme Court to overturn its ruling from April 4 that set the election date for Punjab at May 14.
According to the DG ISPR, Article 245 gives the federal government the authority to use military action to support civil authority. He further stated that the Supreme Court report was “based on ground realities.”
When asked about GHQ’s agreement with the Punjab government to give the army 45,257 acres of land for corporate farming, which the Lahore High Court (LHC) has halted, Gen Chaudhry responded that governments in many developing nations were using the strength of the armed forces to improve food security.
Social media campaigns
The ISPR DG said that the Constitution places certain “reasonable restrictions” on the right to free speech and added that the criticism of government institutions that is being witnessed on social media is “irresponsible, illogical, and unconstitutional.”
He went on to say that the army as a whole is unable to quickly reply to posts made on social media and that some individuals with “vested interests” were behind a campaign of disinformation against the army at the behest of adversarial intelligence services.
“Army cannot be pressured by unjustified propaganda; there are laws allowing judges to file contempt charges against violators, and the army also uses the legal system in such situations,” he stated.
In response to a different question, he stated that veterans were a benefit to the military but advised them to stay out from politics.
He insisted that the army is “apolitical” and that invoking it in politics to repress a political party, philosophy, or other group had caused havoc in various nations.
The ISPR DG stated in response to a query about India that Indian aggression and fabrications could not alter history. He added that Kashmir, which is currently occupied by India, has a disputed status that is widely acknowledged and cannot be changed and that it has never been and never will be a part of India.
He said that COAS Gen Munir’s first trip was to the Line of Control (LoC), where the army chief declared that the armed forces were capable of defending the entirety of the nation and advancing into the territory of the adversaries.
He asserted that the 2003 Director General Military Operations (DGMOs) Ceasefire between India and Pakistan and the 2021 conversation on the subject ensured that the situation at the eastern border remained calm.
He continued by saying that whereas India did not grant such access to any such organizations, Pakistan always cooperated with UNMOGIP and gave full access to the Line of Control.