India was in Afghanistan only to hurt Pakistan. Irrespective of what India says in terms of development or trade, its real reason to be in Afghanistan was to hurt Pakistan. Gen. Babar Iftikhar, Director Gen. Inter-services Public Relations (ISPR) said that during Q&A of his press briefing on Friday, Aug 27.
Gen. Babar Iftikhar, DG ISPR, spokesman of Pakistan Army, was speaking during the press conference held in Friday afternoon to brief journalists in the aftermath of suicide bombing at the Kabul International Airport in the night of Thursday. Almost 100 people have died in this tragic attack including 13 US marines, 28 Afghan Taliban soldiers guarding the perimeter of the airport and large number of civilians. Almost 150 person were injured and many of those are in critical conditon.
Gen. Babar said that the purpose of this media briefing was to bring forward the national security concerns that Pakistan might face and to discuss the measures that have been taken so far. He said that “We will continue to ward off any kind of spillover or insecurity related to this, into Pakistan.”
DG ISPR dilated on the security-related issues, preceding 15th August, when the Ashraf Ghani government fell and the military situation unfolded rapidly, “ I think it was against everybody’s expectations,” he remarked. “Since the withdrawal of US and NATO forces was already decided, it was never a matter of if, but a matter of when.” He also added.
He said that Pakistan had already started taking measures to guard the shared border between the two countries. Pakistan’s side of the border was thus duly secured and the movement was controlled, he assured the media.
90% of Pakistan-Afghanistan border is fenced
He rejected the narrative of blaming Pakistan and chronologically outlined the efforts Pakistan has made in the Afghan conflict over the years to bring peace and stability. He explained that in view of Afghan and International concerns of border crossings by hostile elements, including Taliban, Pakistan undertook the challenging task of border fencing on its side and now almost 90% of that border fencing is complete. On several occasions, Afghan forces or miscreants attacks Pakistani workers and soldiers working on the fence. Pakistan thus lost many soldiers during the fencing due to the lack of cooperation from Ashraf Ghani government.
He shared that on several other occasions the Afghan National Defense Forces (ANDSF) soldiers entered Pakistan running for safe passage as there was the fear of the Taliban attacking their posts. “ They were accepted, they were looked after and they were given the safe passage back into their country under military norms,” he said.
DG ISPR highlighted that in the past few weeks and days, borders were opening and closing due to the fluctuating situation in the region. Pakistan had moved its regular combat troops on the regular crossings on the Af-Pak border to ensure border control. In the past, these border check points were manned by Frontier Corps (FC).
Pakistan: Biggest victim of Afghan crisis
However, Pakistan removed restrictions from the notified border crossings after 15th August seeing the developing Humanitarian crisis. The trade factor is still mobile between the two countries. Pakistan is the closest base through which foreign nationals have been evacuated through about 313 air flights including military and commercial aircraft.
After the attack on Kabul airport, lots of Afghan nationals and foreigners want safe evacuation into Pakistan. On late Thursday night, Islamabad hotels were being evacuated of Pakistani citizens to make space for the Afghan citizens – tv channels were reporting.
“I think other than Afghanistan and other than the people of Afghanistan, the biggest victims of this conflict have been the people of Pakistan,” he said, “Ever since the Soviets invaded, followed up by the Afghan jihad, then the civil war, and then the war on terror in the last two decades, Pakistan has been continuously a victim of this, 86000 plus lives lost, 152 billion dollars of losses incurred.”
Soviets had invaded Afghanistan in the December of 1979 to prop up a failing pro-Moscow government of President Hafeez Ullah Amen, replacing it with an unknown Babrak Karmal.
India was spoiler in Afghanistan
Pakistan has repeatedly cautioned the world about the negative role played by the spoilers of peace in Afghanistan for their own vested interests. Pakistan highlighted at every forum that terror incidents in Pakistan were planned in Afghanistan with the help of India’s RAW. Whatever India did in Afghanistan was to hurt Pakistan, there was no love lost for Afghans, they were not there for any other reason but to hurt Pakistan.
Pakistan Army was stretched to both borders
The Pak army was dutifully deployed on the eastern and western borders and also internally to tackle the interior threats.
As soon as Pakistan established normalcy, along the border and inside the border, we started working for border security to ensure the longevity of this success.
Border SOPS were established in 2014- bilateral military coordination SOP 2015, AfPak action plan for peace and stability in 2018 (five groups within this)- Pakistan was actively reaching out to formalise the border control mechanism.
Reciprocation was negative.
Pakistan had offered to train Afghan troops, says DG ISPR, adding the collapse of the Afghan forces was against expectations. #DGISPR
— Umair Jamal (@UmairJamal15) August 27, 2021
Pakistan continuously assisted Afghanistan
Gen. Babar highlighted the assistance continuously provided by Pakistan to Afghanistan. He explained that several High-level visits conducted by the Pakistani leadership to Afghanistan – 4 visits by the Chief of Staff (COAS) only during the last one year – offered intelligence sharing mechanism and training of ANDSF soldiers. Unfortunately only 6 cadets came to Pakistan and hundreds and thousands of Afghan officers went for training to India and several Indian army training teams were established in Afghanistan to train ANDSF, he lamented. The Afghan COAS was invited too, Pakistan offered to train and equip a complete brigade-size force, he further added.
All this while the G-locks stayed opened, which were the main logistic lifeline of the US and NATO forces operating in Afghanistan. He said that “ We never doubted that peace in Afghanistan is peace in Pakistan” and that, “ it was a sincere effort all along.”