THE concluding day of the first phase of military exercises, Azm-e-Nau-III, was marked by a display of an unprecedented act of successfully shooting down a spy plane, drone, in the presence of Prime Minister Gilani, COAS General Kayani and a large number of other dignitaries. To validate the concept of Integrated Fire Power, F-7, JF-17 Thunder, Mirage and F-16 jet fighters, Al-Khalid tanks, artillery and other ground forces equipment were tested. The Azm-e-Nau-III exercises began on April 10 and would continue till May 13. The purpose of such exercises is to put certain ideas, which have evolved in the light of the experience the armed forces have had since the previous exercises, to practical test to judge whether they are able to meet the new challenges. Experience in their own encounters with the enemy forces apart, the strategists also keep an eye on the conflicts raging on in other parts of the world to see which new techniques and equipment have been employed there to prepare their armed forces for a similar eventuality. Thus, the aim is to validate and test the newly developed operational concepts and integrate the new hi-tech equipment into the overall armys strategy. As Mr Gilani said, the spectacular display of military prowess would warm the hearts of all Pakistanis and reflect the capacity to defend the motherland and maintain peace and security in the region. He commended the professionalism displayed by various units of the armed forces, and observed that Pakistan was a bulwark against the forces of extremism. Maintaining peace has been the cornerstone of Pakistans foreign policy and, as General Kayani pointed out, we have never had any aggressive designs against any country. However, in the hostile surroundings that we are living in, the objective of peace could only be secured with strength. Hence, the exercises and the updating of equipment and techniques, the need for the highest state of preparedness. It could be argued that the assertion the army top brass makes, off and on, about the impregnability of the countrys defences is not really called for - after all that is what the armed forces, costing so heavily to the state exchequer, are there for. Nevertheless, with a neighbour, constantly spewing fire and feverishly arming itself, and a highly volatile situation in the region, it seems quite necessary to do so to reassure the nation that is witness to periodic Indian incursions on the Kashmir front. In fact, the government needs to warn New Delhi that continued violation of our sovereignty would cost it dearly.