Looking to the past, stepping forward.
Pakistan today remembers its 490 brave soldiers who laid down their lives during Operation Zarb-e-Azb. Their goal was to establish the writ of the state and provide an environment of security to the people of Pakistan. While implementing the NAP the army took out 2,159 terrorists, cleared 4,304 sq km area from terrorist networks and destroyed over 992 hideouts. It was a feat unparalleled in the ongoing war against terrorism anywhere in the world.
Terrorist attacks have come down in numbers but the level of their ferocity has increased which proves that military measures alone will not put an end to the wave of terrorism that has overtaken the world. What is highly important, though generally forgotten, is that unless the extremist thinking rooted in society is eradicated through a consistent, multi-dimensional and fairly long campaign it would continue to provide fresh recruits to replace the dead terrorists.
Pakistan also faces the challenge of external security threats. For this the country needs a thoroughly professional and genuinely apolitical army engaged in no activity other than guarding the geographical borders of the country. A number of government departments have also to play a crucial role to make the national defence impregnable. The Foreign Office – led by a full time Foreign Minister – needs to formulate policies, in the light of inputs from relevant government departments that create economic, cultural and people to people linkages between Pakistan and the neigbouring countries that discourage resolution of disputes through war. An educated, healthy and contented populace can better defend the country than malcontents – hence the need for more funds for education and health.
Equally important for national defence is to concentrate on developing a large industrial base capable of providing millions of new jobs besides boosting exports to ensure sufficient foreign exchange reserves. Pakistan badly needs to expand the pool of skilled manpower and produce a reservoir of tech-savvy professionals besides a fairly large industrial infrastructure that can provide the basis for local production of sophisticated arms and ammunition through innovation and indigenisation of imported technology to serve Pakistan’s defence needs.
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