New Delhi, May 17:Hafiz Saeed is a Pakistan citizen who has been discharged by the courts so he is free to contest elections if he fulfills all criteria,” says a top Pakistan official. Major General Asif Ghafoor, who is Pakistan’s Director General of Inter-Service Public Relations (ISPR), the media and public relations arm of its armed forces, since December 2016, aired his thoughts in an interview with The Indian Express. Since he represents the official view for the Pakistan Army, his statements are closely watched.Also Read - Unofficial 2nd Test Between India A and South Africa A Ends in Draw

On his views on the status of the Indo-Pak relations, Major General Ghafoor said, “The ceasefire between the two armies on the LoC is at the DGMO-level (Director General of Military Operations level) since 2003. From 2003 to 2016, there were very few ceasefire violations, but in 2017 alone the ceasefire violations have been more than that recorded in the past 10 years. In 2017, there were 1,813 violations, while the number in 2018, so far, is 1,321, and we are not even halfway through the year.” He said the ceasefire violations by Indian Army were against the civilian population and they had lost hundreds of innocent civilians. “We can’t respond in the same coin — one, for humanitarian reasons, and two, because the civilian population on the other side is Kashmiri Muslim. It is our compulsion to respond only at the Indian Army posts. The two DGMOs must reach an understanding as both sides need to bring the temperature down. The real reason, if I may say it candidly, is that India has failed to control the uprising in Kashmir, post the ‘shahadat’ of Burhan Wani,” he said. Also Read - US, EU Express Concern at China's 'Problematic Actions' in Asia Pacific

About Hafiz Saeed, he said, “There is no evidence against him and has been discharged by the courts. We have held him under the NPO, but there has been no evidence from the Indian side against him. He is a citizen of Pakistan and anything he does, other than violence, is good. The Election Commission of Pakistan has its rules and laws. If he (Hafiz) fulfills all those requirements that is for the ECP to decide.” Also Read - Dignified Exit For Ishant Sharma? Minor Hamstring Strain Paves Way For Ajinkya Rahane's Selection in Rainbow Nation

As far as Pakistan’s relations with the US are concerned, he said, “We have a history of the relationship, which includes many ups and downs. Pakistan has been a frontline ally of the US in its war on terror. The USA’s success in defeating al Qaeda has been only because of Pakistani support. Even though the relationship is under stress, the strategic lines of communication for US forces inside Afghanistan remain open from Pakistan.”

In his message for India, he said, “War is not the solution. If imposed on us, it will be befittingly responded. But we believe in peace and cooperation.”