Inter-Services Public Relations Director General Maj-Gen Ahmed Sharif Chaudhry addresses the press conference in Rawalpindi on April 25, 2023, in this still taken from a video. — Twitter/@Mkashif976

Inter-Services Public Relations Director General Maj-Gen Ahmed Sharif Chaudhry addresses the press conference in Rawalpindi on April 25, 2023, in this still taken from a video. — Twitter/@Mkashif976

Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director-General (DG) Major General Ahmed Sharif Chaudhry on Tuesday effectively clarified the army’s stance on various matters, including terrorism, situation at the borders, economic, and political affairs.

In his maiden press briefing since his appointment as head of the military’s media affairs wing, the ISPR DG said that everyone has the right to voice their opinion and analysis. He added that Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Asim Munir believes the “centre of real power” is the nation.

‘Non-political ties’

Pakistan Army’s spokespersons repeatedly denied that the military is leaning towards anyone as political parties blame each other for having the establishment’s backing.

“The Pakistan Army is a national army. All political parties are respectable for us […] but we do not lean towards any political party or ideology,” Maj-Gen Chaudhry said.

“If any army was used to further a specific political ideology anywhere in the world, it led to anarchy,” he said and called upon Pakistan’s political leadership to support the military’s professional thinking.

The ISPR DG added that the government and the military have constitutional and non-political ties — a stance that the army has long stood by. “This non-political relationship should not be politicised.”

Briefing top court judges

Responding to a question, the military’s spokesperson said that the Ministry of Defence had already given a briefing to the Supreme Court regarding the deployment of troops for the upcoming general elections, which was based on “ground realities”.

The defence ministry briefed the apex court last week on why the government could not provide army personnel for polls in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) — and the report has not been made public yet.

To a question about what was in the report that the defence ministry had submitted to the top court, Maj-Gen Chaudhry said that had there been a need to make the briefing provided to Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial public, then it would have already been disclosed.

“Those talks were held just between the institutions,” he added.

The DG ISPR added that it is the government’s prerogative to summon the Pakistan Army under Article 245 for election security or during natural disasters.

India’s ceasefire violations

Slamming India for repeated ceasefire violations along the Line of Control (LoC), the ISPR DG said New Delhi had committed several ceasefire violations along the LoC this year and Pakistan had also taken down six Indian spy quadcopters.

He went on to say that Pakistan had taken United Nations observers to the LoC several times, while India had not done the same.

“India’s aggressive designs and baseless allegations cannot change history. India cannot change the historical status of Kashmir. If India plans any adventure, Pakistani forces will give a strong response.”

Foreign sponsored terrorism

Speaking on the occasion, the top military spokesperson said that the army is focused on rooting out terrorism from the country.

“Pakistan fought the war against terrorism for two decades. Every Pakistani soldier is devoted to faith and piety,” he added.

“The contacts between the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Baloch [insurgent] organisations and foreign intelligence agencies have been proven.”

The ISPR DG further said that 137 security officials have been martyred so far this year while 117 have been wounded. “The war against terrorism that Pakistan has fought is unprecedented and will continue till the last terrorist is eliminated.”

He added, “Terrorist organisations and their facilitators’ have no ideology, religion or faith. They attack mosques, police, religious scholars, mediapersons and citizens.”

Border fencing

The army spokesperson went on to say that around 3,141 kilometres long border has been fenced along the frontiers with Afghanistan and Iran to prevent infiltration of terrorists.

He said 98% border with Afghanistan and 85% with Iran has been fenced, while 85% of forts along the Afghanistan frontier and 33% with Iran have been completed.

He further said that 65% of erstwhile tribal areas have been cleared of land mines.

Socio-economic uplift

Highlighting measures for the socio-economic uplift of the people, the ISPR DG said that 3,654 projects are being completed at a cost of Rs162 billion in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, while 95% of the affected population has returned to homes.

He added that around 14,000 people have been given jobs in the Pakistan Army and the Frontier Corps under Youth Employment Scheme.

Similarly, over 1,200 students are getting an education in various institutions.

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