DG-ISPR briefs Afghan
and regional situation

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RAWALPINDI: In an emergency press conference today, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General Maj Gen Babar Iftikhar briefed the whole nation evolving situation in neighbouring Afghanistan.

At the outset of his press conference in Rawalpindi, he said he would talk about the evolving situation in Afghanistan and the implied national security problems that Pakistan could face, along with the measures the armed forces had taken and would continue to take to “ward off any spillover of insecurity and instability into Pakistan”, Dawn has reported.

Prior to the Taliban’s takeover of Kabul, the military situation in the war-torn country “unfolded rapidly”, he said, adding that Pakistan had already started taking the measures it needed to guard the Pakistan-Afghanistan border and to ensure security.

He emphasised that there was “no doubt” that Pakistan’s side of the Pak-Afghan border was secure and stable.

Giving the timeline of events as they unfolded in the neighbouring country, the DG ISPR said prior to August 15 — when the Taliban entered Kabul — several soldiers belonging to the Afghan National Army entered Pakistan on more than two occasions, seeking safe passage because they feared their posts might come under attack by the Taliban. “They were accepted and given safe passage back       under military norms,” he added.

Major Gen Babar Iftikhar

Pakistan’s armed forces “anticipated the way the situation was going to unfold and the chance of instability” spilling over and moved troops to important border crossings to ensure control, he said.

“Seventeen out of 78 border crossings were notified [for enhanced deployment] and all illegal crossings were closed. After August 15, the terminals and border crossings have been kept open. Convoys are also continuously moving on both sides.”

The DG ISPR said the second-biggest site for evacuation of foreigners from Afghanistan, besides the ones in the neighbouring country, was in Pakistan.

So far, 113 flights — both military and commercial — have landed in Pakistan from Afghanistan, he added.

“The situation at the Pak-Afghan border is normal and there is no untoward incident,” he said.

Talking about the impact of the decades-long war in the neighbouring country, Gen Iftikhar noted the “biggest victims” of the conflict, besides Afghans, had been Pakistanis.

“We have faced a massive brunt since the Soviets invaded [Afghanistan] followed by the civil war. [More than] 86,000 lives have been lost [along with] Rs152 billion in economic losses and counting.

“While we were involved in this war on terror during the last two decades, we have had three major escalations on the eastern border. At the peak of this period, there were more than 90 terrorist incidents taking place in a year in Pakistan.”

Furthermore, 12,312 ceasefire violations had occurred on Pakistan’s eastern border since 2014, he added.

Giving details of military operations during this period, the DG ISPR said the armed forces conducted 1,237 major and minor operations and cleared more than 46,000 sq km area along the western border against terrorists and their infrastructure.

“With the support of our great nation and LEAs (law enforcement agencies), our armed forces were able to turn the tide.”

Giving the timeline of events as they unfolded in the neighbouring country, the DG ISPR said prior to August 15 — when the Taliban entered Kabul — several soldiers belonging to the Afghan National Army entered Pakistan on more than two occasions, seeking safe passage because they feared their posts might come under attack by the Taliban.

“They were accepted and given safe passage back under military norms,” he added.

Pakistan’s armed forces “anticipated the way the situation was going to unfold and the chance of instability” spilling over and moved troops to important border crossings to ensure control, he said.

“Seventeen out of 78 border crossings were notified [for enhanced deployment] and all illegal crossings were closed. After August 15, the terminals and border crossings have been kept open. Convoys are also continuously moving on both sides.”Evacuation efforts

The DG ISPR said the second-biggest site for evacuation of foreigners from Afghanistan, besides the ones in the neighbouring country, was in Pakistan.

So far, 113 flights — both military and commercial — have landed in Pakistan from Afghanistan, he added.

(Inconclusive)