“Don’t drag
Army into politics”;
urges DG-ISPR

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RAWALPINDI: Blame-game between opposition political parties and the Army is continuously going on. Opposition leaders particular PDM Head Maulana Fazlur Rehman and PML-N Maryam Nawaz have recently blamed Army for supporting the PTI Government intheir media reports.  Responding to their blames, Maj Gen Babar Iftikhar, the director-general of Pakistan Army’s media wing, on Monday rejected rumours that the armed forces and opposition alliance, Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), were in contact through “backdoor channels” and said that the army should not be dragged into politics.

“The people who are making speculations, I requested them previously as well [and] I will tell them again: do not drag army into politics,” he said while talking to Samaa TV.

DG-ISPR Major General Babar Iftikhar

The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) DG said that the armed forces already have their “hands full” with the “huge responsibility of looking at security, internal and external threats”. It does not suit anybody, Maj Gen Iftikhar said, to comment about this without any evidence.

He said that such speculations should be “shut down”, adding that if someone has evidence to support claims of backdoor contacts, they should bring it forward.

“I would again request please don’t drag the institution into this dialogue,” he reiterated.

Covid vaccines

The ISPR chief also spoke about a donation of vaccine doses to the Pakistan Army by China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA). He said that the military leadership has decided that the vaccine, which was meant to be administered to army personnel, will be donated to the ongoing national vaccination drive “so that Pakistan’s frontline workers can be given this vaccine”. In the first phase of the vaccination drive, the vaccine is being provided to frontline health workers.

Maj Gen Iftikhar termed frontline health workers as the “real heroes” of the nation whose “tireless efforts and sacrifices helped the nation in fighting this” pandemic.

He also thanked the PLA for its “magnanimous gesture”.

UN report

The official also spoke about a recent United Nations report by a monitoring team responsible for tracking terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda and ISIS, which acknowledged the ongoing efforts of the Pakistan government against elements involved in terrorist activities.

According to the report, the threat from the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) had resulted in over “100 cross-border attacks within three months last year”.

The Foreign Office had termed the report a “vindication” of Pakistan’s stance. Pakistan handed over a dossier last year to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on the Indian sponsorship of TTP and Jamaatul Ahrar. Both terrorist groups have been designated by the 1267 Sanctions Committee of the Security Council.

“We had already presented evidence a long time ago about the regrouping of these terrorist organisations, who is supporting them, how they are collaborating, and how they are harmful for the entire region,” Maj Gen Babar Iftikhar told Samaa TV.

“In my opinion, India has been exposed to a considerable extent. We have talked about this, I have informed [the nation] through my pressers. I was also in the presser with the foreign minister at the Foreign Office [where] a dossier was presented in front of the whole world.

“It is a good thing, the massive acknowledgement of what we have been trying to say and hopefully the world is going to take notice of this.”

Sadpara a ‘national hero’

The ISPR chief hailed Mohammad Ali Sadpara, a mountaineer who has been missing for the past three days along with two others, as a “national hero” and assured that the Pakistan Army will continue its search and rescue operation in order to find him and his companions.

“For the last two days as well, army helicopters have been flying there at their maximum ceiling and due to the worsening conditions, could not go beyond a certain level. Today too, the search and rescue mission has been sent for the third day,” he shared.

He acknowledged that it was a “very challenging mission” which was made more difficult by weather conditions.

After reports that Sadpara, along with John Snorri from Iceland and JP Mohr Prieto from Chile, successfully summited K2, news emerged that the three had gone missing. The three lost contact with the base camp late on Friday and were reported missing on Saturday after their support team stopped receiving reports from them during their ascent of the 8,611m-high K2.

Search and rescue operations have been underway since then, but with no luck so far.