I visited our Army’s Selection and Recruitment Centre (ASRC) in Rawalpindi the other day, where my son was to appear for Army Medical College entry tests. Before going there I rang up one of my friends who told me about the ASRC’s exact location near Saddar, but at the same time expressed his disappointment as to why I was going to give my son to ‘them’, “gone are the days when army happened to be a charm; the war on terror deaths have badly affected the morale of the nation.” Why don’t you, he advised, try to send your son abroad for higher studies.

The recruitment center was open and the Transit Camp Road jam packed with cars parked and youngsters gathered to wait for test call from inside. “Can they be fools? Or is my friend wrong in his assessment?” It seemed the over 52,000 deaths in the war against terror have served nothing but a renewed vigor to the youth to join the army and serve the nation. “I am convinced”, said Hassan Abdullah – a candidate’s father sitting next to me in my car as we were discussing newspaper headlines and editorials while waiting for our sons to come out, – “that the enemy within our territories should be dealt with iron hands; they have challenged our constitution, the state and its sovereignty.”

What we saw at the recruitment centre was a clear answer to, and a total negation of the notion projected by some foreign based columnist, who was of the point that the army is not willing to fight, etc. He was against having a bigger army. “If we did not have an ongoing confrontation with India, why would we need such a big army? For all practical purposes, Pakistan became an army with a country. Situation on the ground is different. Despite losses, injuries and deaths, there is no fear or demoralisation on part of the soldiers and officers as well as the people who continue sending their sons to fill the vacuum.

Amidst India’s war mongering and “teach-Pakistan a lesson” sloganeering, Pakistan has eschewed path of confrontation, always extended hand of friendship which India has never reciprocated. India’s former minister Partab Singh talking to reporters during his Karachi visit said, “Why should India hold dialogue with Pakistan when it is militarily in position to take it to its knees?” I must admit that Pakistan has already taken the risk by reducing its troops’ presence on eastern border. India has raised three corps, one Afghanistan-specific, another China-specific while Pakistan has moved its strike corps from Indian border to Afghanistan border areas. It is pity we put no blame on political hierarchy, for taking no interest in foreign policy matters at all.

The international observers give its credit to the unflinching resolve of the officers of the Pakistan armed forces, who, to them, thwarted the designs of the enemy and wronged their strategies and planning. Stephen Cohen, the US expert on South Asia, has therefore suggested in his new book that the US and world should recognise Pakistan as a nuclear state, if they want to see a stable and peaceful region in this part of world. Only then, Dr Mansoor’s notion of reducing number of troops can be accepted, provided India takes the lead.

TAHAWWAR S MALIK,

Rawalpindi, July 25.