THE exhaustive news briefing of the Director-General, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), Major-General Babar Iftikhar on Wednesday was significant in the sense that he conveyed a loud and clear message to the concerned circles on important national issues, clarifying ambiguities that surround them because of different factors and reasons.
He rejected reports of any deal with former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif urging media and others not to drag the institution of defence forces into political debates, explained achievements of the ongoing operation Raddul Fasad during the last year, recounted measures taken for greater self-reliance in the field of defence production, status of negotiations with the defunct TTP, and firmly stated that the fencing work on western border would be completed in the stipulated time-frame.
There was surely rumour mongering on various issues, especially the alleged deal between the Establishment and the former Prime Minister as well as future of border fencing and the clarifications given by the chief spokesperson of the armed forces would hopefully help understand things in the right perspective.
For the last several weeks, the media was abuzz with reports about a deal and the subsequent return of Mian Nawaz Sharif from London.
Both the Opposition and the Government were trying to exploit these rumours to their political advantage and the issue of return of MNS assumed central stage in national politics.
While dispelling such rumours, Major-General Babar advised the media to ask speculators as to what specific details of deal were and on what evidence or basis they talk about the deal.
He made an impassioned appeal to keep the institution of defence forces away from such discussions as “it has been clarified time and again that the forces are subservient to the Pakistan government and act on its directives and there is no more than this”.
There is logic in his remarks that instead of focusing on such speculations, the media should, instead, pay attention to other important issues and challenges facing the country in the realm of health, education, agriculture, infrastructure development, security and foreign affairs.
Frank and candid discussions on these topics can serve as feedback to the Government enabling it to improve its policies and make them responsive to the needs of the masses.
Similarly, there should be no room for wild speculations whether or not the Army Chief would be given further extension.
One would agree with General Babar that an organized campaign has been launched against some institutions of the country with the objective of creating a gulf between the government, institutions and defence forces and shatter the confidence of people in these institutions.
We have been emphasizing in these columns since long that all stakeholders should make conscientious efforts to strengthen national institutions and avoid indulging in any activity that could harm them or undermine their strength.
We have to understand that some foreign powers have vested interests in making our institutions targets of scathing propaganda.
Apart from defence forces, there is dire need to promote other institutions as non-controversial entities like Parliament, judiciary, Election Commission, National Accountability Bureau and Police.
As for border fencing, it is reassuring to hear from the ISPR that 93 percent work on Pak-Afghan and 71 percent on Pak-Iran border has so far been completed and it would be completed as per schedule as it is aimed at regulating security, transport and trade.
It is also appreciable that the security forces conducted about 60,000 big and small Intelligence Based Operations (IBOs) during the year 2021 while the civil and military, law enforcement and security agencies played key role in busting and rooting out terrorists’ networks.
This shows the threat of terrorism is far from over and this is also highlighted by the stubborn attitude adopted by the TTP despite an olive branch extended by the Government in the form of dialogue to sort out things peacefully.
The terror outfits are not realizing that the Government undertook the process of dialogue despite stiff opposition by some political parties and segments of the society because of the past crimes.
They should, therefore, attach no conditions and discard the tendency of challenging the writ of the Government.
As Pakistan is facing discriminatory attitude in procurement of defence equipment, it is, therefore, encouraging that the Government was fully alive to the situation and is taking necessary steps to boost indigenous defence production capabilities as a number of projects were undertaken during the last year in Pakistan Ordnance Factories, Heavy Industries Taxila and Pakistan Aeronautical Complex.