India's Pakistan specific AGNI-II Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile (IRMB)

ISLAMABAD - Pakistan said on Friday that India should not underestimate Pakistan’s defence and Indian army chief Bipin Rawat’s recent aggressive statement was a reflection of New Delhi’s mindset.

Addressing a weekly news briefing here, Foreign Office spokesperson Dr Mohammed Faisal said statements like those from their army chief were reflective of the current mindset prevalent in India .

“They are also belied by the situation on the Line of Control and the Working Boundary, wherein 2018 to date, Indian forces carried out more than 200 ceasefire violations, resulting in the death of 13 civilians and injuries to 65 others. This is a continuation of the unprecedented trend of CFVs in 2017 when Indian forces carried out 1970 ceasefire violations, resulting in the death of 54 innocent Pakistani civilians and injuries to more than 200,” he said.

The government and the people of Pakistan , he said, believed in a peaceful neighbourhood, which is essential for peace and development. “Cooperation instead of conflict is the only way forward but this needs to be reciprocated by actions not words,” he said.

Pakistan, Faisal said, believed a peaceful neighbourhood was the prerequisite for regional development. “Our armed forces have shown exemplary restraint but they are fully capable of giving a befitting response to safeguard the motherland,” he said.

On Indian subversive and terrorist activities against Pakistan , he said Pakistan has also raised the issue with the UN and the international community. “Commander Kulbushan Jadhav is just the last case in evidence. India needs to act as a responsible member of the international community and refrain from such activities which are against the UN Charter and inter-state norms and pose a threat to regional peace,” he elaborated.

He said Commander Jadhav, a serving Indian naval officer, was tried by according to the law of the land in a fully transparent manner by the Field General Court Martial under section 59 of Pakistan Army Act (PAA) 1952 and Section 3 of Official Secret Act of 1923.

“He confessed before a magistrate and the court that he was tasked by the RAW to plan, coordinate and organize espionage and sabotage activities aiming to destabilize and wage war against Pakistan . He was awarded the death sentence which was confirmed by the Chief of Army Staff on 10 April 2017,” the spokesperson said.

To a question, he said, all states had the legitimate right to pursue peaceful uses of space technologies. “However, given the dual-use nature of such technologies, it is essential that such pursuits are not directed towards a buildup of destabilizing military capabilities which can negatively impact regional strategic stability. Pakistan has been firmly committed to the avoidance of arms race in outer space,” he said.

Pakistan , he said, had a robust space programme for peaceful applications and the Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission is already operating a communications satellite, PakSat-IR.

He said that Pakistan believed that maintenance of strategic stability at the regional level is a shared responsibility given its link with the objective of peace and development.

“The best way to promote strategic stability is through mutually agreed restraint measures, avoidance of arms race and the pursuit of destabilizing weapons systems. Pakistan remains committed to a policy of restraint and responsibility. In pursuance of this policy, Pakistan will continue to undertake all necessary measures to deter external aggression in accordance with its legitimate defence needs and region-specific threat spectrum,” he said. 

Faisal said that repatriation of the Afghan refugees with dignity remains a fundamental concern for Pakistan . “We have repeatedly raised this issue with the Afghan government and the international community,” he said.

Currently, he said, there are 1.4 million registered and an equal number of unregistered Afghan citizens living in Pakistan .

To a question, he said, there were 206 prisoners in China, out of whom, 195 were serving the prison sentence in drug smuggling cases and 11 in other crimes such as dangerous driving, robbery and fraud.

“There is no linkage between the arrests of Chinese nationals in ATM fraud case, with Pakistani prisoners who are currently held in detention here,” he clarified.

On Pak-US ties, he said Pakistan was closely monitoring the bill recently introduced in the House of Representatives to end non-defence aid to Pakistan .

“A similar bill was introduced in the US Senate a couple of weeks ago. According to our embassy in Washington, these bills are at preliminary stages and will be considered in the respective committees. The sponsors of these bills have a particular mindset, as they oppose international assistance and advocate that the money should be spent inside the country for infrastructure development. While Pakistan has decided not to seek assistance from the US, we would like to place on record that the past US assistance has served the mutual interest of the two countries. This fact has been repeatedly acknowledged by the US officials,” he said.

About remarks of Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan in Kabul as well as his recent testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he said, “It is a welcome step that senior US officials are publically noting the importance of this long-standing relationship, our contributions against terrorism, especially Al-Qaeda and ISIS, and our generosity in hosting millions of Afghan refugees.

“Pakistan has consistently emphasized that we share the objectives of a peaceful and stable Afghanistan. We also believe that peace in Afghanistan can only be secured through an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process that offers incentives for all the Afghan stakeholders. We will continue to support all efforts to this end.”

To a question, he said that Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa led an inter-agency delegation to Kabul on October 01, 2017 and “during their meeting with President Ashraf Ghani it was agreed to evolve a comprehensive bilateral engagement plan through five working groups”. Faisal said that Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project was still on.

About the US sanctions on three Pakistanis with links to Lashkar-e-Taiba, Faisal said: “These are unilateral sanctions by the US and not UN.”