Both the prime minister and corps commanders have spoken on the most potent threat to Pakistan’s security i.e. the accursed phenomenon of terrorism. Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, addressing a ceremony at the National Defence University on Friday, called upon the security institutions of the country to improve their system of intelligence gathering and share the information thus collected with their civilian counterparts to help in the formulation of a coordinated approach against the militant non-state actors. He was of the view that Pakistan’s changing security environment also demanded a review of the security-focused doctrine by the armed forces. He assured them that “the entire nation and Pakistan’s Parliament stand behind” them in their fight to root out terrorism and praised the sacrifices they had rendered in the cause.

The corps commanders, meeting under the chairmanship of COAS General Ashfaq Pervaiz Kayani the same day, reached the conclusion that the Taliban would have to surrender their arms and commit allegiance to Pakistan before any negotiation could take place with them. Their conditional offer was flatly turned down. They also discussed efforts of a negotiated peace with certain militant factions and the flurry of terrorist attacks the country has, of late, been the victim of.

It is well over a decade since Pakistan began experiencing the terrorist onslaught which has gradually grown in intensity, with the result that so far it has suffered the kind and extent of loss that no other country, except Afghanistan, has sustained. As many as 40,000 of its citizens, including more than 5,000 security personnel, have fallen while fighting to relieve the country of the constant fear of insecurity. The cost of the devastated property would run into tens of billions. While the war on terror has, no doubt, caused a huge dent in the economic strength of the US as well, it has the resilience to recover, given suitable measures and a pause in active warfare. However, for a developing country like Pakistan the loss that by now is well over $70 billion has proved crippling. Apart from that, there is the constant fear of a suicide bomber striking anytime anywhere. To meet the challenge, the country would need extraordinary measures, beginning from improving the methods of intelligence gathering, as Raja Ashraf counselled the army to do. Collecting information about these shadowy characters is, of course, a hard task, much harder than about a known enemy, but that is all the more reason for the various agencies engaged in the task to coordinate. There can be little doubt that in the effort to eliminate the monster of militancy, which is giving the nation sleepless nights, the armed forces enjoy its wholehearted support and cooperation. The terrorists have done their best to destroy Pakistan’s social fabric and ruin its economy by scaring away potential investors and driving away some of its industrialists to more peaceful places. They should be shown no quarter whatsoever!