Pakistan says no attack took place in Balakot, repeats its offer to facilitate Indian scribes’ visit to the site

Islamabad: Pakistan’s military on Monday contested the Indian claim that air strike in Balakot in February had resulted in the loss of lives or damage to infrastructure.

Chief military spokesman Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor reiterated his proposal to help Indian scribes if they wanted to visit Balakot to “see the truth” even as it reminded New Delhi not to test Islamabad’s resolve.

Addressing a press conference at the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi, that Pakistan wasn’t connected to the Pulwama attack and that Prime Minister Imran Khan had called for an inquiry based on proof as well as dialogue.

Despite India’s assertion that only one of its jets was downed on February 27, Ghafoor again declared two jets were shot down. He also rejected India’s claim that a Pakistani F-16 was shot down.

Ghafoor also said India shouldn’t test Pakistan’s resolve as the situation on the ground had changed since the 1971 war that led to the creation of Bangladesh from East Pakistan.

“This is not 1971, it is not that force or those circumstances,” he said, adding Pakistan has been engaged in a “continuous struggle for support to the Kashmiris”.

He said kinetic operations had been carried out to kill terrorists and destroy their facilities. “Today we can say with confidence and proof that any kind of organised terrorist base is not present in Pakistan,” he said.

“The state’s will and capacity is also based on financial capability. While we were conducting kinetic operations, we had to deal with threats on our eastern border at least three times,” he added.

Ghafoor contended India has been “repeatedly lying” and Pakistan has not responded.

“For the past two months, India has told uncountable lies. As a responsible country, we have not responded to their lies,” he said.

Ghafoor said Pakistan plans to bring under state control more than 30,000 madrassas as part of a drive to “mainstream” them.

“An Islamic education will continue to be provided but there will be no hate speech,” he said, adding seminaries will come under the purview of the education ministry.