Saying Thank You, especially to someone subordinate or lower than ones self in the social order, does not seem to come easily to us as a nation. This, however, seems second nature to most people living in the developed world. The services rendered by the veterans of past and present conflicts were very much in evidence during recent ceremonies commemorating the end of the First World War, as seen on CNN, BBC, etc. Nor did the American president, who is also the commander-in-chief of the US armed forces, forget the sacrifices and services of past and present generations of men and women who served in the military as he addressed thousands of troops at Fort Hood, Texas in the wake of the recent tragic killing and wounding of scores of soldiers by an army major. The reason for the apparent lack of this trait could well be the lack of nurturing in the formative years of our lives both at home and in school. Fast forward to Pakistan, service in the army, for most people, is hard, what with frequent transfers to extremely difficult terrains, long separations from family, etc. Apart from service on the borders with a hostile neighbour, there have been several prolonged internal security operations which have taken a heavy toll of life and limb on those employed on such duties. The latest in this type of operations has been the recent employment of troops and paramilitary forces on the western border, Swat and Malakand. How long they drag on is anybodys guess, but one thing is certain: they will not be ending any time soon. Nor for that matter will the entirely senseless, prolonged war in Siachin, lingering on since the early 1980s, or deployments along the Line of Control. The toll of those who made the ultimate sacrifice, and those who have been wounded in the current operations on the western borders, keeps mounting by the day, although for reasons best known to the powers that be, the total tally remains a closely guarded secret. Yet, has anyone heard a word of thanks from the civilian supreme commander, the prime minister, or his veritable army of ministers for those who strive to keep this country safe and out of the clutches of barbarians who call themselves Muslims? The supreme commander hardly ventures out of his bunker in Islamabad, except to make frequent trips overseas. Not once has he visited the troops in a conflict zone, or anywhere else for that matter. The prime minister could fly to Skardu to garner votes for his party, but could not be bothered to take a short helicopter ride to visit troops in Siachin. The army is taking very good care of the dependents of Shaheeds, from what I have learnt. However, I would venture to say that benefits extended to the families of those who lose their lives in the performance of their duties, no matter how or where, could also do with a review, despite the armys limited welfare funds and the mounting numbers of Shaheeeds. To meet these expenses, I suggest the creation of National Shaheed Fund, the seed money for which can be raised by adopting some or all of the following measures: ? Since he is unlikely to return to Pakistan anytime soon, seize and sell the farm house of the former president/COAS in Islamabad. As it is, his generous friends have reportedly gifted him a lovely flat in a choice location in London (for favours rendered?), and he must have made a killing from his puerile book entitled In the Line of Fire. He has much to atone for, including the blood of hundreds of young officers and men in the ill-conceived Kargil misadventure. ? Seize the property of the notorious naval chief who reportedly milked this country with both hands in the French submarine deal, and came out lily-white after a shady plea bargain with a politicised NAB. ? Look into the assets of other services chiefs, in country and illegally stashed abroad. ? Curtail the benefits given out to senior officers, civil, military and judicial alike, and give them to the foot soldiers, junior officers and their families, etc. After all, how many plots or properties does one person need? It would be instructive to know what kind of benefits our arch-foes to our east get on retirement; precious little, one should think. ? Ask the supreme commander who, according to a recent French report, is the richest living Pakistani, with well over a billion US dollars to his name, to set the ball rolling with a generous personal donation. Ten percent for a start would do nicely? And so on and so forth. I, for one, would like to thank all those who have served, or are serving, in the military, and salute all those bereaved families who have lost near and dear one in the service of their country, never mind the follies and foibles of its leaders, military and politician alike. End notes: I take strong exception to the naming of the so-called Benazir Income Support Programme, or other projects named after the deceased lady. It is all taxpayers money, being used by her Party to gain a few cheap points. Such programmes should only be so named after her if they are financed out of her vast personal estate. After visiting the Rawalpindi Cineplex, which is of a very high standard , never mind the high cost of tickets and refreshments, I talked to its CEO in Karachi, Mr Imran. He very generously agreed to run some free shows for the dependents of Shaheeds, as also war wounded soldiers, officers and their families, etc, after seeking the approval of his directors. DG ISPR also kindly promised to facilitate such an event in every possible way. Let us hope that my suggestion to Mr Imran bears fruit. The writer is a retired brigadier.