No doubt, the sharp deterioration of Pak-US relations, post-Salalah attack on November 26, constitutes a daunting challenge for Pakistan. But given the determination of the nation to stand up against any aggressor that finds its expression in the armed forces full preparedness to defend the country and the political leaderships full backing, no challenge could prove insurmountable. COAS General Kayani called on Prime Minister Gilani on Friday to apprise him of the reinforcement of the troops stationed on the Pak-Afghan border and the operationalisation of an upgraded, sophisticated defence system there to thwart any aggressive intent of the attacker. According to experts, the strengthened system reflects Pakistans concern for making adequate defensive arrangements on the western border, which now, incidentally, match those in place on the eastern frontier. Islamabad does not harbour any aggressive wish. The presence of General Kayani at the military exercises at Kharian reflects his desire to judge the readiness of the fighting forces in defence of the land. General Kayani also informed Mr Gilani that the Shamsi airbase had been vacated. Reportedly, the charge of the base would first revert to the UAE and then to Pakistan. The authorities should not rest with its vacation and, in line with the widespread public demand, get possession of other bases, Jacobabad and Pasni. Besides, the new rules of cooperation with the US that Mr Gilani reiterated were being worked out must contain the commitment that there would be no further drone attacks on our territory. These rules must be in black and white; for the experience goes against reliance on oral assurances. The truth is that the open avowal of General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, that the US would cut Pakistans influence in Afghanistan constitutes an undeniable testimony to that effect. Thus appeasement of any sort, at this stage, would go against our national interests. We must stick to our stand whether it pertains to the defence of our territorial sovereignty, the drone attacks or any other form of attack, the closure of airbases, the blockage of the Nato supply channel or despatch of troops to North Waziristan to take on the so-called Haqqani network. Foreign Minister Hina Khar is right in telling Ambassador Munter that no single person can change the decision on stopping the transit of Nato containers to Afghanistan. If General Dempsey claims that the Americans have achieved their military targets in Afghanistan, one wonders how he could justify the demand to do more that he maintains would continue to be made. Pakistan must also gear up its diplomatic machinery to present to the world its side of the picture about the rationale of its present posture.