Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General Maj Gen Babar Iftikhar said on Saturday that the growing number of terrorism incidents and attacks on security forces in the country were linked with the developing political situation in Afghanistan.
In an interview with TV channel 92 News, the ISPR chief was asked if the recent wave of terrorism was connected with the situation in Afghanistan or whether local outfits such as the outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan and Balochistan Liberation Army were behind them.
“So the recent events you saw show their (terrorists’) desperation,” said Gen Iftikhar.
The ISPR chief’s statement comes two days after as many Pakistan Army troops were martyred in a terrorist attack in Khuda Baksh Bazaar near the coastal town of Pasni in Balochistan.
A further two days before that incident, two security personnel, including an officer, embraced martyrdom while three others received injuries during clashes with militants in the Zewa area of Kurram tribal district.
‘Brunt of Afghan instability to fall on Pakistan’
The ISPR chief said that the brunt of instability in Afghanistan would fall directly on Pakistan and that peace in the two countries was directly interlinked.
He said the challenges for Pakistan include re-emergence of terrorist organisations’ sleeper cells due to the ongoing Afghan conflict and “restoration of terrorist groups in Balochistan that can nexus with hostile agencies”.
Gen Iftikhar further said the regional situation was being carefully monitored and Pakistan was playing its role in Afghan peace process with “sincerity”.
“We left no stone unturned in peace talks among all stakeholders,” the ISPR statement quoted him as saying. However, Gen Iftikhar emphasised that Pakistan could not be a guarantor to the Afghan peace process and that Afghanistan’s own stakeholders will have to decide their future.
‘Measures already taken to ensure safety of country’
He spoke of Pakistan’s preparations in case the security situation deteriorates from the Afghan side. “All necessary safeguards that we have to take for the safety and security of the country have been taken,” he said.
Elaborating the measures taken, the ISPR chief said that fencing of the Pakistan-Afghan border was “90 per cent complete” and would be finished soon, adding that work to fence the Pakistan-Iran border was also being expedited. He said the fencing of the Afghan border would be as beneficial for Afghanistan’s security as for Pakistan.
Additionally, he said that many security posts and forts had been constructed, the border control system upgraded, a modern biometric system installed and illegal crossing points on the Pakistan-Afghan border sealed.
“We have fought a long and trying war with terrorism and have gotten countless successes in it. We will not allow our hard-earned gains to be wasted,” he said.
Commenting on border security measures, Gen Iftikhar said that the capacity of the Frontier Corps had been beefed up significantly, while police and levies officials had been trained under the supervision of the Pakistan Army.
The ISPR chief said that security forces had carried out more than 7,500 operations in tribal areas and Balochistan since May 1 and had killed 42 terrorists. Many Pakistan Army soldiers were also martyred and injured in these operations, he said.
“[The] Pakistan Army is ready to exterminate all threats to national peace and security. We are after them aggressively and they are on the run and in such [an] aggressive posture you bear casualties. Our officers are leading the operations from the front […] we will not let them take any respite.”
India’s influence in Afghanistan
When asked about the extent of India’s influence in Afghanistan, Gen Iftikhar said that India had “huge influence” and the purpose of its investment in the country was to destabilise Pakistan.
“We have also presented a dossier in November 2020 and given evidence of Indian terrorism and clandestine designs against Pakistan,” he said. He added that RAW had training camps in Afghanistan which they used to unite all splinter anti-Pakistan groups.
However, based on the current situation, signals from India and “how they’re talking and commenting on the matter, it is very visible that they are frustrated”, he said.
“I think the biggest spoiler in this [peace] process is India,” Gen Iftikhar said.
The ISPR chief said that peace and stability in Afghanistan would make it difficult for India to operate against Pakistan from within the country. “That is why they’re trying with all their effort to sabotage this [peace] process.”
Afghan vice president’s claims
Commenting on recent allegations levelled by the Afghan vice president, the ISPR chief said: “This is absolutely wrong and is a baseless statement.”
Earlier this week, Afghan Vice President Amrullah Saleh had claimed that the Pakistan Air Force had issued an official warning to Afghan security forces to repel any action by the latter to dislodge the Taliban from the border crossing of Spin Boldak.
“I can tell you with confidence there is no measure like this,” the ISPR chief said.
Gen Iftikhar said that recently during clashes between the Afghan National Army (ANA) and Afghan Taliban, around 40 Afghan soldiers had crossed towards the Pakistani side in Bajaur.
He added that they had been given food, respect, gifts and returned with “soldierly protocol”.