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Crucial steps taken to stop anti-Pakistan propaganda on social media: DG ISPR

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The military has said that steps have been taken to stem the tide of toxic propaganda against Pakistan on social media. “We have taken crucial steps to stop the propaganda against the country on the social media,” the chief military spokesperson, Maj Gen Babar Iftikhar, told a media briefing on Monday.

The news briefing – which coincided with the fourth anniversary of Operation Radd-ul-Fasad – was arranged to update the media on the achievements made by the security forces during the four-year-long offensive. “We have eliminated such anti-Pakistan propaganda by a large extent,” he added.

Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad, or ‘Elimination of Discord’ in English, was launched on February 22, 2017, to capitalise on the gains of Operation Zarb-e-Azb and, according to the military, it was aimed at indiscriminately eliminating the “residual/latent threat of terrorism”, by going after the sleeper cells of terrorists and their sympathisers in the country’s urban centres.

“The Pegham Pakistan initiative helped defeat the terrorists’ narrative and hate speech,” Maj Gen Babar Iftikhar, DG ISPR, said. “I felicitate Ulema for their role in making it a success.”

He said the strategic intent of Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad was to ensure a peaceful and stable Pakistan. “The armed forces and the masses have been successfully facing national security challenges and will continue to tackle them as a nation in the days to come,” he added.

Elaborating further on the operation, he said the grand strategy of Pakistan’s war against terrorism was based on the “clear, hold, build and transfer” doctrine. He added that various areas were cleared of terrorists after major operations in the clear and hold phase, with Radd-ul-Fasad being the start of the build and transfer phase. “During this, it was our responsibility to make hard-earned gains irreversible.”

The military spokesperson said the operation was initiated against terrorist elements at a time when the terrorists were seeking refuge in the urban and other areas of Pakistan after the military dismantled their infrastructure in the erstwhile tribal areas.

Terrorists and their facilitators were engaged in the failed attempts to target the cities, tehsils, schools, place of worships, trading centres, women, and children.

“Radd-ul-Fasad was launched with a two-pronged strategy involving the counter-terrorism and counter-extremism domain.”

Maj Gen Iftikhar noted that an ideology could only be countered by a superior ideology in the counter-extremism domain.

"The execution of the National Action Plan, bringing the tribal areas and seminaries into the national mainstream, police reforms, and controlling extremist elements were part of it. There was a grand strategy behind the operation."

After clearing the areas using kinetic operations, he added, socio-economic uplift is the key to peace.

As we move ahead, we are going to overcome the remaining security threats with better use of techniques and technology, he said.

"You will see more positive developments in the near future. So far, more than 0.3 million intelligence-based operations (IBOs) have been conducted across the country," the DG said."

Maj Gen Iftikhar further said that "the country has been yielding the dividends and positive outcomes of Operation Radd-ul-Fasad".

He highlighted that following the operation, more than 5,000 people inclined towards extremism have been reintegrated into the national mainstream.

"The areas where there was only unrest are now witnessing economic activities flourish."

The purpose of the operation was to neutralise terrorists who had attempted to bring the country to a standstill, reiterated Maj Gen Babar.

"As many as 1,684 cross border incidents occurred during the operation, while Operation Khyber 4 was also conducted during the period. The armed forces also had 450 personnel martyred during the operation."

"Two personnel of the forces embraced martyrdom while 199 sustained injuries while dismantling landmines during Raddul Fasaad," said the military spokesperson elaborating on de-mining efforts in the tribal districts after the completion of combat operations in the region.

When asked about recent violent incidents in Waziristan, the military spokesperson said not every incident should be viewed as a form of terrorism. “There are law and order incidents too. They won't fall to zero.”

“They are tribal districts and will take time to normalize, we need to have patience. We shouldn’t be incident-specific.”

He added that a batch of 3,000 personnel have passed out and another 4,000 are in police training.

Operations against terrorists

"Some 75,000 intelligence-based operations (IBOs) were carried out in which the CTD, ISI, FC, and police, participated," the DG said.

"Over 80,000 IBOs were conducted in Balochistan, 150,000 in Sindh, and 52,000 in K-P during the past four years."

He added that urban terrorism was controlled and terrorism networks were eradicated. Attacks on a hotel in Gwadar, Balochistan, agriculture university Peshawar, the Chinese consulate, and the Karachi Stock Exchange were some of the terror attempts foiled.

The DG added that as a result of the successful operation in Karachi, normalcy returned to the city. "The city was at the sixth place in the international crime index, and now, it is at the 106th slot," he maintained.

Responding to a question, the military spokesperson maintained rumours on social media regarding the appointment of the next DG ISI are "baseless".

"Moreover, the sixth population census was successfully organised following a betterment in the overall security situation."

During the census, seven personnel of the armed forces embraced martyrdom, he added.