Abdul Basit Alvi
Effective communication is pivotal in any nation’s defense infrastructure, not only for upholding national security but also for shaping public perceptions. In Pakistan, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) stands out as an exceptional institution proficient in both aspects. With a steadfast commitment to transparency, accountability, and excellence, ISPR has become a cornerstone of Pakistan’s defense mechanism, providing invaluable services that extend well beyond conventional military operations. ISPR prioritizes the dissemination of accurate and timely information to the public, utilizing various channels such as press releases, briefings, and social media engagement. This ensures citizens are well-informed about national security developments, counterterrorism endeavors, and disaster response initiatives. By fostering an environment of openness and transparency, ISPR not only strengthens public trust but also encourages active citizen participation in defense-related discussions. A notable aspect of ISPR’s operations is its adeptness in utilizing modern communication technologies to reach diverse audiences. Through active engagement on platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, ISPR effectively communicates with both domestic and international audiences, debunking misinformation and countering propaganda in real-time. This proactive approach not only enhances Pakistan’s global reputation but also aids in combating extremist ideologies. Additionally, ISPR preserves Pakistan’s military heritage through documentaries, exhibitions, and commemorative events, ensuring the sacrifices of servicemen and women are remembered and revered. The current Director General of ISPR, Major General Ahmed Sharif Chaudhry, continues the tradition of effective communication with the public. His recent press briefing in Rawalpindi was comprehensive and detailed, addressing multiple issues openly and clearly. He emphasized Pakistan’s significant role in combating terrorism in the region and reiterated the nation’s commitment to eliminating terrorist networks entirely. He mentioned that the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is operating from Afghan territory, and recent terrorism incidents have links to Afghanistan. Pakistan has extended assistance to the interim government of Afghanistan at various levels, but the promises made by the Afghan interim government have not been fulfilled yet. There is solid evidence indicating that TTP militants are utilizing Afghan soil for their activities. Major General Ahmed Sharif emphasized that the Pakistan Army’s foremost priority is to establish peace and order within the country. They are committed to taking all necessary measures to suppress terrorists and their supporters, underscoring Pakistan’s relentless fight against terrorism and its successful eradication efforts. Despite the return of over 563,000 Afghan citizens, millions still reside in Pakistan. Terrorists are disrupting the peace, but Pakistan’s forces stand resolute against them. The spokesperson for the Pakistan Army reported the martyrdom of soldiers in a terrorist attack on a checkpoint in North Waziristan. The thwarted terrorist attempts serve as evidence of the security forces’ effectiveness in foiling the enemy’s plans. A tragic incident occurred on March 26: the Dasu Dam attack, orchestrated from Afghanistan. The suicide bomber involved was of Afghan origin, and recent attackers also hold Afghan citizenship. Efforts are underway to apprehend these terrorists, as affirmed by statements from the Army Chief in Pakistan, who reiterated that there is no place for terrorists. The relationship between Afghanistan and Pakistan is intricate, characterized by shared history, cultural bonds, and geopolitical factors. However, terrorism remains a pressing challenge that strains this relationship. Despite joint efforts to combat extremism, Afghanistan’s role in sheltering and supporting terrorist groups operating in Pakistan remains a persistent source of tension. Pakistan has long grappled with terrorism, with various militant factions carrying out deadly attacks on civilians, security personnel, and infrastructure. While significant progress has been made in countering terrorism domestically, the existence of safe havens and sanctuaries across the Afghan border poses a formidable obstacle. The ramifications of Afghanistan’s involvement in terrorism within Pakistan are extensive, impacting innocent lives, infrastructure, economic development, social cohesion, and trust between neighboring nations. Moreover, it perpetuates a cycle of violence and retaliation, escalating tensions and impeding regional cooperation. Addressing Afghanistan’s role in terrorism within Pakistan is a critical challenge that demands urgent and resolute action. By jointly confronting this mutual threat and honoring their commitments to counterterrorism collaboration, Pakistan and Afghanistan can pave the path towards a more tranquil and prosperous future for their populations and the broader region. Addressing inquiries regarding the tragedy of May 9, Major General Ahmed Sharif asserted that May 9 is not solely an issue concerning the Pakistan Army but pertains to the entire populace of Pakistan. He highlighted how certain individuals disrespected the Pakistan founder’s residence, desecrated memorials of martyrs, vandalized military and civilian infrastructure, and endeavored to sow discord among the people against the army. He questioned why these individuals should not be held accountable. Such actions, if occurring in any country, would prompt scrutiny of the justice system. The Director General of ISPR emphasized that if a particular group persists in such actions, eventually they will turn against their own army. He warned against the propagation of falsehoods, underscoring the reality of the events of May 9: a political faction transgressed boundaries, targeting its own army and institutions. Nevertheless, the conscientious citizens of Pakistan rose against this faction, demonstrating their disapproval. They distanced themselves from this anarchic group, disavowed and condemned it. When the group witnessed the public backlash, they resorted to a second deception, alleging a false flag operation, claiming victimhood themselves. It is unacceptable to presume that the populace is so easily misled. If those responsible for the events of May 9 are not held accountable according to the law, then nobody’s life, property, or reputation will be secure, undermining faith in justice. Hence, it is imperative to swiftly and justly punish the perpetrators of May 9 in accordance with the law and the constitution. Major General Ahmed Sharif reiterated that the Pakistan Army is a national institution, comprising individuals from diverse backgrounds and devoid of political affiliations. Operating within a parliamentary democratic framework, every government maintains a non-political yet constitutional relationship with the army. All political ideologies, parties, and leaders are respected. However, any political entity that attacks the army, incites hatred, disparages national martyrs, or propagates against the army will find itself isolated. Major General Sharif emphasized the need for such political entities to engage in constructive politics rather than inciting hatred, as dialogue enhances the credibility of political parties and institutions. Regarding the incursions into Islamabad by provincial resources from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Major General Sharif cautioned that if a certain political group continues such actions under the guise of immunity, they may eventually provoke a response from the army. He underscored the transparent self-accountability process within the Pakistan Army, which has completed its investigation into the events of May 9. He further stressed the importance of adhering to the system of punishment and law in Pakistan. Those responsible for the events of May 9 must be held accountable according to the constitution. The incident was witnessed by all, revealing how minds were manipulated and sentiments turned against the armed forces, their leaders, agencies, and institutions. The selective targeting of military installations by some political leaders was evident. When these facts emerged, the public reacted with anger, distancing themselves from the anarchic group. Any notion of a false flag operation propagated thereafter is baseless. The spokesperson for the Pakistan Army said that the formation of a judicial commission was suggested to investigate the matter. He emphasized the readiness of their cooperation with the commission, provided it delves deeply into the core issues. The commission should investigate the underlying objectives of the 2014 sit-in, encompassing the attack on PTV and the incitement of civil disobedience, such as the encouragement to burn electricity bills. It should also examine the involvement of provincial resources from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in the 2016 storming of the capital. Additionally, the judicial commission should scrutinize the circumstances surrounding the drafting of IMF Letters, including any lobbying efforts aimed at pushing Pakistan towards bankruptcy and withholding financial aid. It is crucial for the commission to investigate the sources and destinations of funding, as well as identify individuals responsible for spreading anti-institutional sentiments on social media. Failure to address these matters would render the events of May 9th inevitable. Indeed, in any society, the foundation of stability rests upon the rule of law, ensuring justice prevails and order is upheld. At the core of this principle lies the accountability of individuals who challenge the integrity, security, and sovereignty of the state. Globally, nations face the task of addressing anti-state elements—individuals or groups posing a threat to societal fabric and citizen well-being. This challenge is particularly pronounced in Pakistan, where the imperative to confront and penalize such elements remains urgent. The term “anti-state elements” encompasses a diverse array of actors, spanning from violent extremists and insurgents to foreign agents and subversive entities. Often, these individuals or groups espouse ideologies contrary to state values, seeking to sow discord, incite violence, or undermine governmental authority. Their actions not only jeopardize the lives and livelihoods of innocent civilians but also pose a direct menace to national security and stability. Indeed, the nation fervently demands the strict punishment of those involved in the events of May 9th. DG ISPR, stated that the Pakistan Army, along with its subsidiaries, contributed a total of 360 billion rupees in taxes. He highlighted the active role of the armed forces in supporting government initiatives aimed at bolstering the country’s economy. Major General Sharif emphasized that the army, in collaboration with other institutions, is actively participating in SIFC, resulting in successful crackdowns on smuggling, electricity theft, and drug trafficking, which have yielded positive outcomes for Pakistan. In September, a comprehensive crackdown was conducted in Rawalpindi to address various issues, including smuggling, electricity theft, narcotics trade, and hoarding. The operation led to the recovery of significant quantities of goods, including 3,036.309 metric tons of fertilizer, 262.8 metric tons of wheat, 34,060.9 metric tons of sugar, and 232,420 cigarette stocks, amounting to a total of Rs91.231 billion. Furthermore, 69,537 individuals have been apprehended in connection with these illicit activities. Additionally, law enforcement seized 1,028,904.9 kilograms of goods, resulting in the arrest of 1,352 individuals. Addressing the issue of missing persons, the Director General of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) stated that 80% of cases have been addressed by the Commission of Missing Persons. The phenomenon of missing persons is not unique to Pakistan; it is a global concern, even in developed countries. The matter is legally intricate, and the government is earnestly striving to resolve it. Regarding the question of providing bases to other countries, the DG ISPR affirmed that Pakistan has not and will not grant bases to any foreign entity. The country is vigilant against illicit activities such as drug trafficking, arms smuggling, and terrorist infiltration under the guise of trade. Pakistan has never politicized trade with Afghanistan and hosts a significant Afghan population. He also provided financial figures regarding the contributions of the Pakistan Army to the national treasury. In the last fiscal year, the Pakistan Army directly contributed 100 billion rupees, while its subsidiaries paid 260 billion rupees in taxes and duties. Additionally, the Army Foundation, DHS, NLC, and Army Welfare Trust deposited significant amounts in taxes—223 billion rupees, 23 billion rupees, 3 billion rupees, and 3 billion rupees, respectively. The recovery endeavors also encompass 27,514.8 metric tons of fertilizer, 2,428.03 metric tons of wheat, 10,180.2 metric tons of sugar, and 55,745.3 metric tons of other stocks.
“Pakistan was cognizant of India’s efforts to divert attention from its internal affairs.” Throughout the current year, India has violated ceasefire agreements on numerous occasions, including 120 speculative fire incidents, 115 aerial posture surveillance system (APS) violations, and 59 technical air violations. These breaches of ceasefire have resulted in loss of life. “We stand prepared to safeguard our sovereignty at any cost.” In December 2023, the Indian armed forces targeted civilians in Poonch and Rajwadi, leading to the unlawful detention of Kashmiris and leaving three individuals in critical condition. Additionally, Kashmiris have been martyred in what he termed “illegal operations.” There have been allegations of electoral vote manipulation in India, with plans to hold elections for five parliament seats on five different days, raising concerns about the fairness and transparency of the electoral process. The Director General of Inter-Services Public Relations (DG ISPR) also expressed apprehensions regarding the Indian Supreme Court’s decision to revoke Article 370, which granted special status to occupied Kashmir under the Indian constitution. “Apart from Kashmir, the Indian government has been implicated in international killings, including the murder of Sikh nationals,” he stated, adding that Indian intelligence agencies were responsible for the deaths of two Pakistani nationals, supported by ample evidence. He also addressed the situation in Palestine, stating that Pakistan has emerged as a significant voice globally and will continue to support the Palestinian cause. “We must play our part in advancing Pakistan’s prosperity and progress. Pakistan has persistently waged and will continue the fight against terrorism,” the DG ISPR asserted, affirming that all available resources are being utilized for this purpose. “Our unity is our strength, and we remain united.” Responding to allegations from the JUI-F, he stated that if anyone possesses evidence, they should present it to the relevant institutions, declining to comment further. Regarding the Bahawalnagar incident, he noted that security and police officials successfully resolved the situation amicably. The Director General of Inter-Services Public Relations (DG ISPR) remarked that there was propaganda surrounding the incident, alleging it to be part of a recurring pattern of anti-army propaganda. Major General Sharif commended the role of the police in counter-terrorism efforts and expressed concern over anti-state elements attempting to sow division among state institutions. “It was regrettable. The matter was peacefully resolved. An inquiry is ongoing to establish the facts and identify those responsible,” he remarked. In reality, our adversaries and anti-state elements are employing all means to destabilize the country, impede its developmental progress, and foment hatred between the people and the institutions of the nation, particularly the Pakistan Army. In the era of digital connectivity, social media has emerged as a potent instrument for communication, information dissemination, and social interaction. Yet, alongside its manifold advantages, social media platforms have become breeding grounds for misinformation, propaganda, and divisive discourse. Nowhere is this more pronounced than in the domain of military affairs, where nefarious actors exploit social media to propagate false narratives and undermine the reputation and credibility of the armed forces. In Pakistan, the imperative to counter social media propaganda targeting the army is paramount for safeguarding national unity, security, and stability. As the custodian of the nation’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, the Pakistan Army plays a pivotal role in ensuring the safety and well-being of its citizens. From defending borders against external threats to aiding in disaster relief and maintaining law and order, the army’s contributions are vast and invaluable. However, despite its noble endeavors, the army frequently falls victim to malicious propaganda and disinformation campaigns on social media platforms. One of the most pernicious forms of such propaganda is the dissemination of false information and unfounded accusations aimed at tarnishing the army’s reputation and fomenting discord within society. Whether it involves fabricated stories of corruption and misconduct or fake news regarding alleged human rights abuses, such propaganda not only erodes public trust in the army but also exacerbates divisions and tensions within the country. It is imperative for the nation to take stringent measures against those spreading false propaganda against the country and its institutions. The recent press conference conducted by the Director-General of Inter-Services Public Relations (DG ISPR) was noteworthy, covering a wide array of current issues in detail. The communication style of the DG ISPR impressed both myself and the nation. In the realm of public affairs and military communication, the role of a spokesperson is pivotal. Tasked with disseminating information, dispelling misconceptions, and fostering public trust, the DG ISPR occupies a central position in Pakistan’s defense structure. The recent press briefing by the DG ISPR has garnered attention for its articulate delivery, lucidity of message, and commitment to transparency, reaffirming the organization’s stature as a credible source of information in the nation’s discourse. The press briefing showcased the quintessential traits of successful communication: transparency, lucidity, and credibility. Right from the beginning, the DG ISPR established the briefing’s purpose and goals with meticulousness and brevity. This transparent approach to agenda-setting not only provided the audience with clear expectations but also emphasized a dedication to openness and answerability. Throughout the briefing, the DG ISPR exhibited an impressive grasp of the topics discussed, elucidating intricate matters with precision and cohesion. When addressing topics spanning national security, counterterrorism endeavors, and strategic advancements, the DG ISPR conveyed information in a manner accessible to both the media and the general populace. Employing plain language and eschewing technical jargon, the briefing effectively reached a wide audience, nurturing comprehension and involvement. A notable aspect of the press briefing was the DG ISPR’s adept handling of media inquiries. With composure and professionalism, the DG ISPR addressed a plethora of topics, assuaging concerns and debunking misinformation with assurance and authority. Through direct engagement with journalists and the provision of accurate, timely responses, the DG ISPR underscored a commitment to transparency and openness, garnering acclaim for its accessibility and candor. The press briefing served as a platform for the DG ISPR to reiterate Pakistan’s dedication to peace, security, and regional stability. By spotlighting the armed forces’ endeavors in safeguarding national borders, combating terrorism, addressing internal challenges, and fostering regional collaboration, the DG ISPR conveyed a message of fortitude, resilience, and resolve. Such reassurance is pivotal in fostering public confidence and fortifying national solidarity amidst external pressures. The detailed, coherent, and comprehensive nature of the press conference resonated with the sentiments of the Pakistani populace, signaling a promising outlook for the nation’s future.

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