Terrorism, flood pose `existential threat` to Pak
Last Updated: Monday, September 06, 2010, 00:22
Islamabad: Terrorism and the worst floods in recent history pose a "grave danger" and an "existential threat" to Pakistan, the country's top civil and military leadership said in messages on the occasion of "Defence Day".

President Asif Ali Zardari, who is the supreme commander of Pakistan's armed forces, said the country "is confronted with an existential threat from fanatics, zealots and extremists on the one hand and from the material devastation caused by history's worst floods on the other."

"In some ways, the threats to the country on September 6 this year outweigh the threats on this day anytime ever in the past," Zardari said in a special message.

While the terrorists and extremists are testing Pakistan's "will to survive and live in accordance with our values and ideology," the floods are testing the country's "ability, resourcefulness and resilience to rise like a phoenix from the ashes of a natural disaster," he said.

In a separate message, army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani said Pakistan is confronted with a "number of security challenges."

"Internally, we are faced with the menace of terrorism and extremism, which poses grave danger to our national security as well as the existence of Pakistan," Kayani said in his message.

Kayani's message made no mention of external threats and contained no reference to India. Pakistan observes Defence Day on September 6 every year to commemorate the defence of Lahore from the Indian Army during the 1965 war between the two countries.

Even as Pakistani authorities struggled to provide relief to the 20 million affected by unprecedented floods, over 100 people were killed as the Taliban carried out a string of suicide attacks on the minority Shia community in Lahore and Quetta.

The military has diverted a large number of troops to relief operations across the country and security experts have expressed concerns that militants will take advantage of this to regroup in the northwest and the restive tribal areas bordering Afghanistan.

Kayani referred to the role played by the military in relief operations to help the millions of victims of the worst floods in Pakistan's history.

He described as "exemplary" the military's role in rescuing hundreds of thousands of stranded and trapped people and in providing them relief, food and shelter.

"Once again you have proved that the Pakistan Army stands beside the nation in every moment of trial," he said.

Expressing pride at the sacrifices made by soldiers and officers of the military for the country's security and sovereignty, Kayani said the armed forces "have demonstrated such an unprecedented display of unity and strength that it has demoralised the enemies of Pakistan."

Zardari said "national unity and singularity of purpose" is imperative to tackle the challenges confronting the country.

"It is reassuring that once again the people and the armed forces have risen to the challenge. Our armed forces backed by the power of the people and the parliament are chasing the militants in a fight to the finish and the people and state institutions have joined hands to meet the challenge of devastating floods," he said.

Zardari reiterated that the government "will eliminate the militants and, at the same time, with the help of the people and international community rehabilitate and reconstruct the devastated infrastructure."


First Published: Monday, September 06, 2010, 00:22

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