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Army chief will visit Iran soon: No terrorist safe havens in Pakistan: DG ISPR

RAWALPINDI-UNS : Director-General Inter-Services Public Relation Major General Asif Ghafoor said on Thursday that there are no terrorist safe havens in Pakistan.Pakistan had ongoing coordination and contact with Tehran. “The army chief will soon visit Iran to improve relations,” he said.

Addressing a press conference Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor conceded to there being threats at Pakistan’s borders, but said the important question was “whether the threat is because of a state or non-state actors” and what the country’s response to it is.

“Pakistan is an indispensible reality,” he asserted. “When multiple interests collude, it is natural that it creates conflicts.”

“There has been war in Afghanistan for the past four decades. We fought with jihadis against the Soviet Union. We have fought well, as a nation, the war that entered our borders after 9/11,” he said.

“There are no organised bases of any terrorist organisations in the country anymore. On the ground, more than 50 per cent of Afghan territory is out of their [Kabul’s] control, which is also affecting Pakistan.”

“There is a strategic threat that exists on the western borders which forces us to keep our army at the borders, because of the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan and other such non-state actors.”

“Our [western] border also meets Iran. It is important to mention that our deployment is not against Iran or Afghanistan but against non-state actors,” he explained.

“In the east, we have a border with India which is unsafe because of India’s inappropriate reactions,” he said.

“Ceasefire violation in 2017 are larger than any other year before this, with 222 civilians killed along the Line of Control. But India has also paid a price with our response and we will continue to do so [respond] if it does not act with restraint.”

“Threats from India are perpetual. We are a peaceful country and we do not want war with them, but we will defend ourselves and have the capability to do so,” he cautioned.

Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor summarised various instances that gave a snapshot of the security situation in the country.

“Operation Raddul Fasaad is ongoing. Operation Khyber 4 is in the ground-clearing phase,” he said.

He observed that Muharram processions were peaceful despite threats in Balochistan and Karachi. He also spoke of a Bohri community gathering in which 21,000 foreigners participated, including 12,000 Indian citizens.

“Other smaller events also took place,” he added, naming the World XI tournament, Miranshah cricket match which also included foreign players, and an international hockey match in Karachi.

“Show me a single country which was facing such threats in 2008 and 2009. There are no countries like this, because all other countries who faced such problems either collapsed or had to have foreign armies take control. This is why you will hear the narrative that the Pakistan Army and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) are not in anyone’s control,” he said, referring to recent media reports that ISI officials had ties to militant groups.

“It is important that institutions work with each other. The institutions that are a part of the soft prong take charge when security improves,” he said.

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