Akram Ullah The 139th Corps Commanders Conference held Thursday at GHQ, with Chief of Army Staff in the Chair, should serve as a guide to the policy that Pakistan intends following to face internal as well as external challenges. We might recall that June 09, 2011, two major institutions of the State, namely the top leadership of the Army and the National Assembly, with the Prime Minister present, joined their heads together to ponder over the major issue raised in this column Whither Pakistan? Indeed the top most civil and military leadership is deeply concerned over the gathering storm threatening Pakistans very existence. I shall not go into details of what transpired at GHQ and what conclusions were drawn by the National Assembly. The media has fully covered both events and one would agree that each forum provided sufficient food for thought. There was a conspicuous contrast between the official reporting of the two events. On the one hand, General Kayanis address to the Corps Commanders, was reported in great detail by the Director General Inter Services Public Relations. The tone and content of the discussion on the National Assembly floor was quite different, owing to budget debate in the National Assembly turned into a heated discussion on a point of order raised by an honourable members regarding extrajudicial killing in Karachi. It is sad that the House did not link the extrajudicial shooting of Sarfraz Shah with the worsening internal security situation in the country which had resulted in the virtual collapse of the civil administration at the national level. The Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani assured the parliamentarians that he would personally look into the matter as this incident was a matter of great concern for the entire country. This was a routine statement, but not good enough to meet the expectations of the people whose patience is running out. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court has taken suo moto notice of the Karachi killing by the Rangers. But the challenge of the worsening internal security situation is now getting of out control. It is a pity that those responsible to act in this threatening national environment of lawlessness, seem to be unaware or unconcerned about this loud ringing of the alarming bells. In the normal course of democratic order, it is the primary duty of the civil authority to ensure the safety of the life, property and honour of the citizens. However we are not living in normal times. Pakistan is in a state of war. No single organ of the state can handle such an alarming situation alone. It is in this context that the 139th Corps Commanders Conference on Thursday had to spell out the future strategy of the armed forces. Since the economic slide at the present juncture is the most critical threat to Pakistans independence and sovereignty, the military leadership has requested the federal government to divert the military aid programme towards various projects of public development and welfare including education and health. Similarly, the Corps Commanders once again reaffirmed full support for the strengthening of the democratic system. However, the military leadership also rightly cautioned against deliberate attempt by certain elements to tarnish the image of the armed forces as an institution. It is time we acted on the founding father Quaid-i-Azams slogan of Unity, Faith and Discipline. n The writer is President, Pakistan National Forum.