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Armed Forces’ leadership, rank and file can’t be separated: ISPR

ISLAMABAD – Pakistan Army’s Chief Spokesperson Major General Babar Iftikhar on Thursday termed the political statement by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) senior leader and former Speaker National Assembly Sardar Ayaz Sadiq about Indian pilot Abhinandan’s release as an attempt to ‘distort history.’

“Yesterday, a statement was given which was an attempt to distort history about some issues related to the national security,” said Director General Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Directorate Major General Babar Iftikhar who briefly spoke the reporters on a single-point agenda just to ‘set the record straight’. 

At the press conference called at the GHQ in Rawalpindi which lasted for just 6 minutes, Major General Babar Iftikhar in a clear reference to what PML-N leader Ayaz Sadiq stated a day earlier said, “We gave them a bloody nose and it is still hurting. Linking Abhinandan’s release with anything other than mature response of a responsible state is highly disappointing and misleading. This [statement] is an attempt to portray Pakistan’s clear victory over India as contentious which is not acceptable to any Pakistani.”

“This kind of negative narrative has direct impact on national security. The enemy is taking full advantage [of these statements] in the information domain, which all of you can see in the Indian media.” He said government of Pakistan in order to give peace another chance decided to release Wing Commander Abhinandan and added the decision was taken in line with the Geneva Convention.

He said Pakistan first showed its capability and resolve and the decision to release the Indian wing commander was taken keeping in view all warfare options from a position of strength. Pakistan’s leadership and the Armed Forces were fully prepared to deal with any kind of situation, he said. The spokesman further said that Pakistan’s victory over India was not only acknowledged by the world but the Indian leadership had attributed their forces’ failure to the absence of Rafale fighter jets.

On Wednesday, while speaking on floor of the national assembly, Sadiq had suggested that the PTI government had released Abhinandan under pressure, fearing an imminent attack from India.

Sadiq said Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, soon after the arrest of the Indian pilot, had pleaded the national leaders to release IAF’s Wing Commander Abhinandan otherwise “India would attack us (Pakistan) at 9pm.” The statement by the PML-N stalwart was picked by Indian media and used to further its propaganda and fake news against Pakistan.

 

The statement by DG ISPR comes hours after Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa met Prime Minister Imran Khan in Islamabad to discuss the internal and external security situation of the country.

The senior PML-N leader on Thursday claimed that his statement in the National Assembly a day earlier over the release of Indian Air Force pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan was being ‘misquoted’. He said that the decision to release the downed Indian Air Force pilot was “a weakness of the civilian leadership.”

 

Commenting on the events that surrounded India’s violation of Pakistani airspace on 26 February last year, DG ISPR Major General Babar Iftikhar said that following the attack on Indian troops in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama area, India showed aggression against Pakistan and added India not only faced defeat but was humiliated around the world.

 

He said Pakistani Armed Forces were on alert and timely response foiled the enemy’s designs. “The enemy planes that had come to drop the explosives on Pakistani people escaped while dropping their payload on mountains in panic after seeing our Shaheens,” he said. He told the media that in response, Pakistani forces decided to teach the enemy a lesson and that country’s entire civil and military leadership was united in the decision. “Pakistan responded to India in broad daylight after announcing it. Not only did we give an appropriate reply, but also shot down two enemy war planes [and] Wing Commander Abhinandan was captured. During these actions, the enemy became so frightened that it shot down its own helicopter and troops in a state of panic. This victory not only exposed India’s hollow claims of power before the world but made the entire Pakistani nation proud,” he said further.

 

When enemy forces have imposed a hybrid war on Pakistan, he said, the nation will have to move forward with great responsibility. He said the Pakistan Army is keeping a close eye on the regional security situation and is not only aware of internal and external threats but also ready to counter all kinds of challenges. “With the nation’s help, we will foil every conspiracy against Pakistan and give proportionate response to any aggression,” he added.

 

When asked to give his take on some recent statements which could create a rift between the armed forces’ leadership and soldiers, the DG ISPR said, “The Armed Forces are an organised institution and its leadership and rank and file cannot be separated.” There is a unity and it will remain, he added.

 

Federal Minister Asad Umar also took to twitter on Thursday to contest Ayaz’ statement on Abhinandan’s release, saying the issue of the release was not discussed even in the meeting Ayaz is referring to. “The issue was taken up for the first time on the next day and such a statement is being given to please someone,” he added. Directly addressing to the PML-N leader, Umar said, “Ayaz Sahib you know better on whose behest you are trying to distort the history.”   

 

Indian pilot Abhinandan was captured in February 2019 after his plane was shot down by the Pakistan Air Force after it violated Pakistani airspace in a serious escalation of hostilities between the two neighbouring countries. A day after his capture, Prime Minister Imran Khan had announced that the pilot would be released as a “gesture of peace” to India.



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