It is a day of reckoning for us to recollect the failings of the past and carve out a new destiny for the nation. Undoubtedly, Pakistan has faced serious challenges to its security, mainly due to foreign aggression in the region and our collusion with it. But now, Pakistan is moving on the corrective course. The symptoms are encouraging:

i    Parliament is laying down ‘new rules of engagement’, establishing the correct level of working relationship with the US and other countries.

i    The judiciary is handling with discreet care some very sensitive issues, such as the President’s immunity, the NRO case, and the corruption cases of institutions and agencies. An independent judiciary is the only hope for justice and rule of law in a lawless Pakistan, where the President eulogises the PM for his defiance of the court’s orders.

i    The armed forces now honour the oath, which had been violated so blatantly by Ayub, Yahya, Zia and Musharraf. It demands: “To uphold the Constitution of Pakistan, which embodies the will of the people and not to engage in politics.” It has been honoured twice at critical junctures of our history during the last six decades. First, on August 17, 1988, when the three services Chiefs - namely Admiral Saeed Ahmed Khan, Air Marshal Hakimullah and myself, assisted by DG ISI Lieutenant General Hamid Gul and Brigadier Aziz Muhammad Khan - restored the Constitution and handed over power to the people within three hours of Zia’s death - an unprecedented act of correcting the course of democracy. Second, on October 18, 2008, when General Kayani rejected General Musharraf’s plan to rig the elections using military intelligence - a repeat of 2002 elections. Thus, Kayani corrected the course of democracy to USA’s disappointment.

In fact, the military high command decisions of August 17, 1988, and October 18, 2008, defeated the plans of the ‘nexus’ - a combination of America, army, judiciary and politicians - to bring about a regime change in Pakistan. No doubt, the nexus is defeated, but the powers behind it are actively trying to reverse the process and targeting the judiciary, the military, the ISI and the political parties, who do not participate in their machinations. The elections are likely to be held soon and a new Parliament would be in place to tackle with the challenges that threaten the core of national existence, such as:

i    India’s ‘water hegemony’ plans seriously threaten Pakistan’s economy and agriculture. On February 2012, the Indian SC ordered its government to implement the 2002 project to link major rivers in India ‘in a time bound manner’. The over $100 billion project will link around 30 rivers. It is split into the Himalayan component with 14 linkages and the peninsular component with 16 linkages. It is the Himalayan component that will dry up the rivers flowing into Pakistan. India - that continues to build 300 small and big dams linking the rivers to contain Pakistan’s water share - has allocated $212 billion to turn the watercourses of Chenab, Jhelum and Indus from north to south. These include 24 projects on Chenab, 52 on Jhelum and 18 on Indus. Thus, India will deprive Pakistan of its share of water and establish its water hegemony - an all-encompassing strategy to ruin its agriculture affecting seven million acres of fertile land. According to Articles 3, 4 and 7 of the Indus Waters Treaty, India can neither construct water reservoirs, nor divert the catchment areas of the tributary canals of these rivers. Also, India is bound to notify Pakistan in advance about its water schemes, however, it has failed to do so!

i    Pakistan’s ‘ideological base’ is badly tarnished and weakening the national purpose, as enshrined in the Constitution, i.e. to “strive for a democratic order based on the principles of Quran and Sunnah.” The ‘component of democracy’ is protected by Parliament, judiciary, armed forces and civil society, but the ‘ideological component’ has been relegated and subordinated to the political authority.

The threat to national purpose, thus, has become endemic, since the US has succeeded in achieving ‘media management goals’ and now is aiming at ‘perception management’ of the Pakistani nation. For this purpose, $1.4 billion have been allocated by the US Congress, which is to be spent in Pakistan for institutional support; support to the civil society and perception management. Therefore, safeguarding Pakistan’s ‘ideological base’ is the most serious challenge. If Parliament does not take it seriously, then the impacting ideological forces of Afghanistan and Iranian revolutions and the Islamic surge within Pakistan, would gain overpowering influence over the masses and cause violent change. Change is inevitable, but must be induced through the democratic dispensation.

n    The writer is a former COAS, Pakistan.