ISLAMABAD: Director General Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Major General Asif Ghafoor on Wednesday said the ball is now in India’s court following Pakistan’s peace gesture of releasing Indian Air Force (IAF) pilot and warned the situation will “go bad” if New Delhi decides to opt for further escalation.
During an interview with CNN, the head of the military’s media wing when asked if the two countries were close to war said, “We were I would say close to war because when they [India] violated the airspace under token aggression, we went for response.”
On Pakistan’s release of Indian pilot Abhinandan Varthaman as a gesture of peace, Major General Ghafoor stated, “Now it is up to India whether they take that peace gesture and move forward towards de-escalation or continue the agenda that they have.”
“Along the Line of Control (LoC) were are eyeball to eyeball. There is presence of troops at the LoC for decades. But post the Indian aggression and our response the safeguards have been taken by both side,” DG ISPR remarked on the situation along the LoC. He added that troops had been increased “because it is natural as part of military planning. When the situation gets hot there are safeguards. Those safeguards are in place on both sides.”
“We feel that now the ball is in the Indian court. Should they decide to escalate more, the situation will go bad,” Major General Ghafoor asserted.
When asked about Indian claims regarding the Balakot air strike, DG ISPR said that not even a single brick had been found there nor were there any causalities. “Their [Indian] claims are false and I believe lately there is an announcement from their side also that they cannot claim any casualty.”
He further said that the Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) claim of responsibility for the Pulwama attack had not been made from inside Pakistan. “Jaish-e-Muhammad does not exist in Pakistan it has been proscribed by United Nations and Pakistan also. Secondly, we are not doing anything under anybody’s pressure.”
“Anybody who operates from Pakistan, we feel, that is not in the interest of Pakistan. Instead of blaming Pakistan, it is time that the world should assist and facilitate Pakistan in getting rid of such organisations,” he continued.
When asked about why the Pulwama attack triggered the recent tension, DG ISPR said the answer lies in the United Nations Human Rights Commission report which highlighted Indian atrocities in occupied Kashmir. “If you suppress the local population to the extent that they are being killed, raped, being given pellet guns. So this is a natural reaction.”
“The world has to see what is forcing the Kashmiri youth to go towards violence. So instead of looking towards framed allegation for this incident, India also has to look inward as to why these incidents are happening. We have to move towards resolution of Kashmir, because this issue Kashmir is a flashpoint for peace in the region.”