The green signal by the Government of Pakistan has finally been given to the armed forces. The internal and external challenges, involving, besides many other factors, had created such a critical situation, culminating in a national security crisis, that hardly any other option was left before the government. The federal government, led by the Pakistan Peoples Party, could not possibly take such a decision without taking all the major political forces in confidence, both inside and outside the Parliament. Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani, who had just returned from China, rose to the occasion and called the civil and military leadership of Pakistan on Friday morning (October 16), for a joint meeting to make the momentous decision at this critical juncture of Pakistans history. Before presiding over the roundtable conference, Prime Minister Gilani called on President Asif Ali Zardari at Aiwan-E-Sadr in Islamabad to apprise him of the challenges facing the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. And also about his proposed strategy to deal with the alarming threat posed by the new wave of terrorism spreading like fire, engulfing the major cities including Islamabad, Lahore, Rawalpindi, Kohat and Peshawar. I believe that time has come to rise above party politics and face the stark reality - Pakistans survival is at stake. The Chief of the Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kiyani along with his top operational and intelligence chiefs had been specially invited to this crucial meeting. Besides them, leaders of different political parties including Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, Asfandyar Wali Khan, Mian Shahbaz Sharif, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Dr Farooq Sattar, Senator Israrullah Zehri, Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao, and other senior government official were also present during the meeting, in order to take the nation into confidence through their elected representatives. Undoubtedly, the credit for managing to get together this rare galaxy of political leadership at a short notice goes not only to Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilanis leadership but also the patriotism of the national leadership that rose to the occasion recognising the grave threat to the very existence of the state. I stress this point because in this demonstration of national unity lies the strength of our nation. The political leadership of Pakistan has entrusted to the armed forces the arduous task of safeguarding the territorial integrity. There was free discussion over nuts and bolts of the planned offensive in Waziristan including internally displaced persons and their management as undertaken by the joint efforts of the civil and military authorities during the Swat and Malakand Operation. Lt Gen Nadeem Ahmad, who had taken care of the IDPs from Swat and their safe return to their homes, was also present in the Prime Ministers meeting indicating the details covered during the four hour long meeting. The political leadership representing the Pakistani nation is believed to have not only granted unanimous approval of the likely operation in Waziristan but assured full support to the armed forces in this extremely difficult venture in a difficult terrain during the coming winter. It is believed that soon after the green signal from the government, the army has now swung into action in South Waziristan with imposition of curfew in different areas from early morning on October 17. The operation is likely to end successfully and hopefully before the start of the New Year. It is estimated that over a lac and quarter population is likely to be evacuated to safer areas in NWFP, Punjab and Balochistan. The army is likely to place the entire area of South Waziristan under surveillance in order to prevent any outside intervention in the operational area. This has put the government as well as the armed forces under the most critical test since the birth of Pakistan. To come out victorious the armed forces will need undivided and total support of the entire nation. I am confident the nation shall not fail in its duty and shall adhere to Unity Faith and Discipline, the call of the Founder of the nation Quaid-i-Azam at the fateful moment of every national crisis. The writer is the president of the Pakistan National Forum.