New Delhi: Pakistan’s chief propaganda officer Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor, the Director General of the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) who is equally loved and hated by people in the subcontinent, has been replaced by Maj Gen Babar Iftikhar.
ISPR is the Pakistan military’s publicity wing.
Ghafoor has now been posted as the general officer commanding (GOC) of the Pakistan Army’s 40th Infantry Division based out of Okara in Punjab province.
“Alhamdulillah. Thanks to everyone I have remained associated with during the tenure. My very special thanks to Media all across. Can’t thank enough fellow Pakistanis for their love and support. Best wishes to new DG ISPR for his success,” Ghafoor tweeted from the ISPR director-general’s official handle.
Thanks to everyone I have remained associated with during the tenure. My very special thanks to Media all across. Can’t thank enough fellow Pakistanis for their love and support.
Best wishes to new DG ISPR for his success.#PakArmedForcesZindabad#PakistanZindabad
— DG ISPR (@OfficialDGISPR) January 16, 2020
Ghafoor also tweeted from his personal account, expressing gratitude to the people of Pakistan for their love and support during his tenure.
Thanks for your love & support. Stay strong, continue doing your bit for Pakistan.Stay blessed
آپکی محبت اورحمایت کاشکریہ۔ مضبوط رہتے ہوۓ پاکستان کے لئے اپنا کام جاری رکھیں۔ Stay blessed.
— Asif Ghafoor (@peaceforchange) January 16, 2020
Major General Iftikhar was the former GOC 1 at Armoured Division.
Known for Twitter gaffes
The news of Ghafoor’s removal comes as Pakistan Army Chief General Qamar Javed met Prime Minister Imran Khan Thursday.
Contrary to popular belief that Ghafoor has been removed because of his late-night tweets, his exit as the ISPR DG was expected as he had completed his tenure. Ghafoor is also due for promotion and he is one of the youngest major generals in the Pakistan Army.
Ghafoor, who became the ISPR chief in December 2016, was commissioned into the Pakistan Army in 1988 and holds a Master’s degree in strategic studies.
How he gave Balakot strikes a twist
Military sources in India said while Ghafoor or ‘Ghafoora’, as he is known on social media, did embarrass the Pakistan Army with his allegedly drunk tweets, he did prove to be a big asset.
Ghafoor deleted his tweet but in real sense meant that Pakistan Army had already butchered Pashtun, Baloch, Ahmediyas and even Kashmiris over years successfully. Drunk tweet at midnight for his paid trolls to get moving. Deleted after he woke up at noon and thought of Parmosan. pic.twitter.com/h9KLVUt6LJ
— Aditya Raj Kaul (@AdityaRajKaul) January 13, 2020
One of his biggest achievements is the fact that ISPR was able to create doubts about the February 2019 Balakot airstrikes even before India woke up to its information warfare.
Exactly 87 minutes after India struck Balakot, the ISPR broke the news on Twitter, albeit with a twist.
Ghafoor tweeted at 0512 hours on 26 February 2019: “Indian Air Force violated Line of Control. Pakistan Air Force immediately scrambled. Indian aircrafts gone back. Details to follow.”
Indian Air Force violated Line of Control. Pakistan Air Force immediately scrambled. Indian aircrafts gone back. Details to follow.
— DG ISPR (@OfficialDGISPR) February 25, 2019
By the time India issued a formal press statement through Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale just before noon, social media was already abuzz with many Pakistani handles tweeting pictures and information about the attack to showcase that the strike was a failure.
Such was the power of the Pakistani propaganda that the Indian military was left giving clarification even when it was one of the most daring attacks carried out by it after Operation Meghdoot, which led to the capture of the Siachen glacier.