Pakistan needed to upgrade its defence capability in the light of regional security matrix and the defence procurement by India, the Army said on Wednesday.
Army spokesman Maj Gen Babar Iftikhar made the remarks during a press conference in response to a question about reports regarding induction of China made J-C10 fighter jets in the Pakistan Air Force.
”Keeping in view the regional security matrix, Pakistan security needs to enhance its capacity,” he said, adding that the induction of J-C10 was not an extraordinary development but part of augmenting national security.
”This is a step aimed to enhance the air force fleet…Our adversary is continuously procuring latest equipment,” he said in an apparent reference to India buying Rafale jets and other defence equipment including Russian made S-400 anti-aircraft surface-to-air missile system.
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Pakistan has acquired a full squadron of 25 multirole J-10C fighter jets from its all weather ally China in response to India’s purchase of Rafale aircraft, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said last week.
When asked about reports regarding India deploying the S-400 surface-to-air missile system on the border with Pakistan, Maj Gen Iftikhar said, “we are aware of the threat matrix on the other side…We have taken measures and we are prepared.” The spokesman also said that Pakistan’s air defence system was one of the best in the world because a lot of upgradation has been done in it during the past few years.
Iftikhar said that under the ceasefire agreement signed with India, the situation along the Line of Control remained largely peaceful, improving the lives of locals living in the area.
”At the same time, the blame from the Indian military leadership and false propaganda points to a specific agenda to remove global attention from” Kashmir, he said.
He also rejected allegations against Pakistan regarding infiltration.
Responding to a question about the fragile economic situation and its impact on the security, Maj Gen Iftikhar said that there was no impact and Pakistan was ready to face all security challenges despite the ongoing economic challenges.
On ceasefire with the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), he said that talks with the TTP were held on the request of the interim Afghan government but the group came up with certain conditions which were not acceptable, leading to collapse of talks.
”The ceasefire finished on December 9. As for the talks, they are on hold. Operations are going on against them (militant),” he said, adding that operations would continue until the menace of militancy was over.
The spokesman rejected the idea about the presence of ISIS in Pakistan, saying that sometimes small groups use the name of ISIS to just enhance their weightage.
He said operations were done throughout the country against militants and colossal damage was done to them, and a lot of them were either killed or arrested. He said that the armed forces had gone to places in Balochistan against militants where “we never went before”.
Iftikhar also said that no militant group would be allowed to challenge law and order and the writ of the state. “No group is allowed to take law in its hand, as only the state has the power to use power and no compromise will be made on it,” he said.
Talking about the recent incidents about the Afghan Taliban damaging the fence on the border with Pakistan, he said that those incidents were localised and had been addressed.
”The government of Pakistan is in contact with the Taliban. We have good relations; we know each other. The issue has been addressed and the fencing is continuing and will continue,” the spokesman said.
He said that 94 per cent fencing has been completed on the Afghan border, while 70 per cent of the Iran border has also been completed. He also said more than 1,200 posts were set up on the Afghan border.
He said the Pakistan-Afghan border was an international border as recognized by the world. “This is an international border; we do not call it the Durand line. If any issue comes up, it is resolved amicably,” he said.
He also said that a vacuum was created after the collapse of the Afghan government and withdrawal of the international troops, allowing some militant groups to exploit it but hoped that the security situation would improve and “no non-state actors will not be allowed to use Afghan soil against Pakistan.” When asked about reports regarding a deal between the establishment and the opposition, especially the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and its leader Nawaz Sharif, he said such reports was just stipulations and baseless rumours.
”If somebody talks about a deal, ask about it in detail, because there is no such thing. I am absolutely clear that it is absolutely baseless speculation. The less we talk about it, the better it will be,” he said.
Iftikhar also said that there was no problem in civil-military ties, stressing that the army was a subservient department of the government and no speculation should be done about it.
He said that Pakistan, which is on the ‘grey list’ of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), had done everything it needed to do regarding the global money laundering and terrorist financing watchdog and hoped that “we will get out of FATF”.
He also said Afghanistan was slowly sliding into an economic crisis and the international community should address the problems of Afghanistan at the earliest.