KHAIRPUR TAMEWALI/ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif yesterday said any attempt to harm Pakistan’s security and territorial integrity will be met with a “befitting response”.

“There is no doubt that the country’s armed forces are battle-hardened and ready to confront any external and internal security challenges,” he said in his remarks after witnessing the military exercise ‘Raad ul Barq’, jointly conducted by Pakistan Army and Air Force in a strategically located area in Punjab, bordering India.

Nawaz said the enemies of Pakistan had made their intentions well known against its national integrity and economic prosperity, however, he said “determination and resilience of our armed forces is a shield that counters any nefarious designs by our adversaries.”

He said exercise Raad ul Barq denoted the commitment of the country’s armed forces for the cause of national defence and expressed satisfaction that their enhanced capabilities made them “one of the finest fighting forces of the world”.

He expressed gratitude to the servicemen. “The strength of our national defence emanates from the integration of all components of our defence structure that act as one body and an impregnable bulwark against enemy,” he said.

On terrorism he said, “We will not be deterred by the perpetrators of terrorism who will find us even more determined to eradicate this evil, and we are steadfast against all anti-state activities.”

The PM said Pakistan was following the policy of non-interference in other countries’ internal affairs and expected the same from them to enable lasting peace in the region.

He said Kashmir remained a bone of contention between Pakistan and India and required serious efforts for its resolution in accordance with the aspirations of people of Jammu and Kashmir and resolutions of United Nations.

Nawaz said killing of Pakistani soldiers at Line of Control by Indian security forces was “another act of aggression which warrants international attention”. The situation at border remained sensitive due to India’s grave violation of ceasefire violation, he added.

Army Chief General Raheel Sharif said that India was hiding the casualties it suffered in skirmishes at the LoC. He said more than 45 Indian soldiers have been killed in recent weeks as result of Pakistani response to Indian ceasefire violations.

As many as 11 enemy soldiers were killed on the day Pakistan lost seven soldiers, the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) revealed while talking informally to mediapersons in Islamabad on Wednesday evening.

He said defense of the country had now become invincible due to excellent teamwork of the Army. He said Indian premier Narendra Modi had understood that aggression along the LoC was useless.

He said that India’s surgical strike claim was limited only to mere words, adding India had to face embarrassment over its own claims.

The army chief further said the army had given excellent results in the defence of the country.

Replying to a question about Balochistan, the army chief said security forces had played a vital role in maintaining peace in the province.

Earlier, addressing the troops at the military exercise venue General Raheel said defence of the country was impregnable and no one could cast evil eye on it. He said Pakistan’s armed forces were fully capable of giving a befitting response to any aggression.

The COAS said the armed forces knew how to tackle the threat whether it was conventional or non-conventional, vowing that a better and secured Pakistan would be given to the coming generations.

He said time was not far away when people of Pakistan would be free from this scourge. Sacrifices rendered during Operation Zarb-e-Azb would not go waste, he added.

General Raheel said the armed forces were a combination of three ‘Cs’ - Character, Courage and Competence.

He said comradeship was the hallmark of Pakistan Army being the only force that always commemorated its heroes, who not only received injuries, but also laid their lives in defence of the motherland.

The army chief said system of Pakistan Army was very strong for keep feeding families of martyrs. He advised all officers and men to visit families of Shuhada (martyrs) in their respective areas to tell them about achievements, courage and valour of the heroes.

General Raheel Sharif appreciated the spirit of every participating solider and officer in the joint military exercise and advised them to transfer the skill and knowledge they acquired during the event to their juniors.

He said Pakistan army had always been on the forefront in an hour of trial whether it was a natural calamity or manmade disaster, adding that it was a Standing Operating Procedure which does not need any formal order for mobilisation.

The COAS thanked journalists and media who always remained on the forefront to promote objective journalism. Later, he mingled with the troops and had informal chat with them.

Prime Minister in speech also mentioned that Pakistan had been a major target of terrorism being supported and financed mainly by external actors. “No country can tolerate such attacks on its sovereignty.”

He said the sacrifices of military personnel would not go in vain as they had enabled to turn the tide in the war against terror.

“From military operation to rehabilitation and reconstruction, and bringing normalcy is the ultimate goal of our law enforcement strategy,” he said.

He termed Operation Zarb-e-Azb as the “most comprehensive, most successful and most robust anti-terror operation in the world”.

He said exercise Raad ul Barq had established that “Pakistan was ready to confront any ambitious and reckless move by its enemies”.

About the economy of the country, the prime minister said that Pakistan had a bright future, and mentioned that international economic organisations had upgraded the country’s ratings with positive outlook.

He said China Pakistan Economic Corridor, which is a shining example of Sino-Pak friendship, is on its way to full operation with first trade caravan recently departed from Gwadar.

He said that Pakistan had become part of the trade route that would change its destiny and emphasised that as part of development agenda, no province or region of the country would be deprived of the CPEC’s benefits.

“The dream of a vibrant and progressive Pakistan could not have become a reality unless all state institutions had not come together for our common objective of collectively achieving a peaceful, progressive and democratic Pakistan as envisioned by our founding father Quaid-e-Azam and Allama Iqbal,” he said.



Pakistan to ‘respond befittingly’ to all enemy moves