NO doubt, the most urgent threat the country faces at the moment is from within, as COAS General Ashfaq Kayani pointed out while addressing the commissioning parade of midshipmen at Pakistan Naval Academy at Karachi on Friday. Militant and extremist outlook, if left unchecked, would destroy the whole national fabric, signs of which are already evident from the multidimensional disturbance of life that acts of terrorism have caused. One could, however, differ on the means required to tackle the menace but not afford to take it lightly. Nevertheless, Pakistan could not possibly lose sight of the external threat that has, unfortunately, dogged its entire existence. And to meet that challenge one could not more agree with General Kayani that the strategy of minimum credible deterrence is the best defence. Pakistan should not be taken in by the unsolicited counsel coming from the US and other Western friends that India does not constitute a threat and that we should divert all our attention towards the northern front. One can understand the Americans' point of view. For them, terrorism presents a most worrisome prospect, and with the shift in focus towards Afghanistan in line with President Obama's thinking, they would like the Pakistani leadership not to bother about New Delhi's machinations and move our troops from the Indian to the western side. On the other hand, recent analyses of India's acquisition of sophisticated weapons like, for instance, AWACS to upgrade its defence preparedness point to their utility in the case of war with Pakistan. For this reason, therefore, Islamabad's threat perception is quite justified and the eastern flank cannot be left unguarded. While keeping our eyes open and troops in place, we have to meet another more immediate danger that has appeared in the lethal form of militancy wearing the garb of Islam. General Kayani has said that the military campaign against militants would be fought with full commitment. But there is need for extra care that the innocent population, which is against the obscurantist version of Islam the Taliban want to enforce, is spared as much harm as possible. In that, the armed forces might lose more previous lives at the hands of the TTP fighters, as according to some sources they claim to have brought down an army helicopter on Friday in which 26 servicemen, including a major and a captain, perished. Even if the version of the ISPR that a technical fault resulted in the crash is true, the armed forces should be prepared for such things. Their best efforts ought to be to clear the area in the shortest possible time so that reconstruction could take place and the IDPs return home.