Terrorism, flood pose `existential threat` to Pak

Last Updated: Monday, September 6, 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."



PTI



First Published: Monday, September 6, 2010 - 00:22
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