Attack by India will be “paid back in same coin,” Pakistan army chief warns

Pakistani army chief Gen Qamar Bajwa talking to Pakistan army troop on Line of Control in Kashmir on Feb. 22. (Source ISPR)
Updated 23 February 2019

Attack by India will be “paid back in same coin,” Pakistan army chief warns

  • Gen Bajwa visits Line of Control to review troop preparedness and morale
  • Military spokesman tells India: “Don’t mess with Pakistan”

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani army chief Gen Qamar Bajwa warned India on Friday against carrying out an attack on Pakistan, saying any “misadventure” would be reciprocated in equal measure.

The army chief’s statement came during a visit to the Line of Control, or de factor border, between Pakistan and India in Kashmir to review the state of troop preparedness and morale.

Tensions between nuclear-armed neighbours Pakistan and India have sharply escalated since last week’s suicide attack in the disputed region of Kashmir in which 40 Indian troopers were killed. Jaish-e-Mohammed, a group believed to be based in Pakistan, claimed responsibility for the attack and India has warned Islamabad of a “strong response” to the assault.

Pakistan denies any state complicity in the attack and said on Friday it had taken control of Jaish headquarters in the southern Punjab city of Bahawalpur and appointed an administrator.

“Pakistan is a peace-loving country but we will not be intimidated or coerced,” the chief said in an address to soldiers. “Any aggression or misadventure shall be paid back in same coin.”

Earlier on Friday Pakistan army spokesman Maj. Gen. Asif Ghafoor also warned India against military action, saying Islamabad would respond with “full force” if attacked.

“We have no intention to initiate war, but we will respond with full force to full spectrum threat that would surprise you,” Ghafoor told reporters at a press conference. “Don’t mess with Pakistan.”

India has long held that Pakistani Islamist militant groups infiltrate into the part of Kashmir that it administers to fuel insurgency and help separatist movements. Pakistan denies this, saying it only provides Kashmiris moral and diplomatic support in their struggle for self-determination.

Pakistan and India have fought three wars since they gained independence from the British in 1947, two of them over the disputed Kashmir valley.

Ghafoor said Islamabad had delayed its response to the Kashmir attack to investigate what he called New Delhi’s baseless claims of state-sponsored terrorism by Pakistan. Following this, he said, Prime Minister Imran Khan had responded in a recorded address to the nation

on Tuesday, asking India to provide “actionable intelligence” and warning retaliation if India attacked.

“Terrorism is a regional problem and Pakistan is willing to table talks with India on the matter,” the military spokesman reiterated.

The attack in disputed Kashmir came just days before a scheduled visit to Pakistan by Saudi Crown Prince Muhammed bin Salman in which he was slated to sign agreements worth billions of dollars. Pakistan and the Kingdom eventually signed agreements worth $21 billion during the crown prince’s visit.

“When an important event for Pakistan is scheduled to happen, this type of staged action arises,” Ghafoor said, referring to the crown prince’s visit.

“The attack happened miles from the Line of Control,” the army spokesman said, referring to the de-facto border between the two countries. “The explosives used were under use by Indian security forces and administration – it didn’t come from Pakistan. The vehicle used was local, not from Pakistan. The attack [was carried out ] by a young Kashmiri, who was a resident of Indian-administered Kashmir.”

Hours after Ghafoor’s press conference, Indian finance minister Arun Jaitley said in New Delhi that India would “exercise all instruments at its command, whether it is diplomatic or otherwise” to respond to Pakistan over its alleged role in the deadly Kashmir bombing.

Referring to Islamabad’s alleged support for Islamist militant groups, Jaitley added, “I think Pakistan is riding a tiger on this issue, and a tiger never spares its own rider.”

Pakistan ranks ninth on CPJ’s 2020 Global Impunity Index 

Updated 31 min 53 sec ago

Pakistan ranks ninth on CPJ’s 2020 Global Impunity Index 

  • The annual index spotlights countries where journalists are slain and their killers go free
  • The ranking is: Somalia, Syria, Iraq, South Sudan, Afghanistan, Mexico, Philippines, Brazil, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Russia, India

ISLAMABAD: The Committee to Protect Journalists has ranked Pakistan number nine on its annual Global Impunity Index, which spotlights countries where journalists are slain and their killers go free. 

The ranking is: Somalia, Syria, Iraq, South Sudan, Afghanistan, Mexico, Philippines, Brazil, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Russia, India.

Each year the CPJ index includes more stable countries where criminal and political groups, politicians, business leaders, and other powerful actors resort to violence to silence critical and investigative journalists. 

“CPJ has found that corruption, weak institutions, and lack of political will to pursue robust investigations are all factors behind impunity in these countries, which include Pakistan, Mexico, and the Philippines,” the watchdog said on its website. 

In Pakistan, a verdict in the Daniel Pearl case this year showed that “even murder cases that were long thought to be resolved can be upended,” the watchdog said. 

On April 2, the Sindh High Court overturned the murder convictions of four men accused in the 2002 killing of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. The decision found Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, who had previously been sentenced to death, guilty only of kidnapping Pearl and reduced his sentence to seven years, which he has already served. The Pearl family and the Sindh provincial government appealed, and according to news reports, the four men remained imprisoned at the end of September.

Freeing the men “would be a devastating setback for justice that would also send a dangerous message to Jihadi militants in Pakistan and around the world, who have systematically targeted journalists in the 18 years since Pearl was killed,” CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon wrote in the Columbia Journalism Review.

Pakistan and the Philippines have been mainstays on the Global Impunity Index since its inception in 2008. The Philippines is the biggest mover in this year’s rankings, improving from the fifth worst country worldwide to the seventh worst.