The director general of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor, told a group of foreign journalists on Tuesday that Pakistan wishes to see peace beyond its borders, especially in Afghanistan, after having largely succeeded in bringing stability at home.
The ISPR chief briefed the correspondents about the security situation and ongoing stability operations in the country, a press release issued by the military’s media wing about Maj Gen Ghafoor’s interaction with some Pakistan-based foreign journalists said.
“Matters related to Pak-Afghan border and situation along Line of Control (LoC) were also discussed,” said the statement.
The DG ISPR said Pakistan’s security situation had largely improved due to “successful clearance operations”, adding that the country was now heading towards stability.
“Having restored peace [at home,] Pakistan wishes to see peace beyond borders especially [in] Afghanistan,” the statement quoted Ghafoor as saying.
BBC correspondent Secunder Kermani, who was among the journalists present at the meeting, shared other details from the interaction on Twitter.
According to Kermani, when asked whether the Pakistan Army was in direct touch with the Afghan Taliban regarding the peace process in the war-torn country, the military’s spokesperson responded that it was the “intelligence services” of any country that maintained such contacts.
However, Maj Gen Ghafoor added that Pakistan’s influence [on the Afghan Taliban] was no longer “as effective as it was [in] 1979”, according to the BBC correspondent.
On Afghanistan, I asked if the Pakistani military was in direct contact with the Afg Taliban about the peace process? He said in any country it’s the “intelligence services” that retain such contact… but Pakistani influence was not “as effective as it was 1979”
— Secunder Kermani (@SecKermani) December 4, 2018
Kermani said the ISPR chief had stated that he [Ghafoor] was not aware if a delegation from the Taliban’s political office in Qatar had arrived in Pakistan, as was reported by some foreign news outlets.
The Associated Press adds: Maj Gen Ghafoor told the foreign journalists that Pakistan’s influence over the Afghan Taliban is overstated, yet he said Pakistan has repeatedly told the insurgent group to join the peace process.
He said the release of senior Taliban officials from Pakistani prisons, including a co-founder of the movement, Mullah Ghani Baradar, was part of the peace process. Prisoner releases were also long-standing demands of the Taliban.
Ghafoor also cautioned against a hurried US retreat from Afghanistan that leaves behind a vacuum, warning it would result in chaos. He said a peaceful Afghanistan was in the interest of Pakistan, adding that Afghanistan is one of the few countries with which Pakistan has a trade surplus.
On foreign media’s role
According to the ISPR press release, Maj Gen Ghafoor during the meeting said that the international community “sees Pakistan through their reporters based in Pakistan” and that he expected the foreign journalists to “highlight improving peace & stability in Pakistan, which offers economic opportunities for foreign investors”.
“Media has a very important role to project the true positivity of Pakistan,” he was quoted as saying during the interaction.
Kermani said DG ISPR was asked about the notices reportedly sent to a number of critics of the military by Twitter, saying the microblogging site had received “official correspondence” that the critics’ accounts violate Pakistan’s laws.
In his response, Ghafoor said the military had made “no complaint to Twitter” regarding such accounts, according to Kermani.
However, “He [Ghafoor] did say that other agencies like the FIA, for example, may have made the complaints but he had no knowledge of that,” the BBC journalist wrote.