The strength of a leader and an institution lies in the capacity to salvage results from seemingly impossible situations and inculcate the winning spirit. The strength of the Pakistan Armed Forces stems from the institutional strength, capability, determination and confidence to thwart all external and internal challenges to national security. The systems and procedures are ingrained in the body of the armed forces in such a way that the leader and the institution represent the one whole. There is such a synergy of top-down and bottom-up directives and aspirations respectively that there is always a movement of the whole mass and not parts. The structure of the armed forces institutionally generates a dynamic motion along the pathways of national interest, solidarity and security. There is always a higher purpose that provides inspiration to persevere. In the recent years Pakistan Armed Forces successfully tackled the multi-dimensional challenges of terrorism, extremism, foreign-sponsored ethnic militancy, and above all, the ever hostile neighbour on the eastern border.

Before Pakistan Army leaped forward to restore peace and order in the country, a general feeling of despondency, fear and hopelessness prevailed – the list of potential threats was seemingly endless. Alongside incessant bloody acts of terrorism across entire country, Karachi suffered approximately 250 incidents of violence per month as a result of deeply entrenched nexus of crime and corruption, while increasing activities of sub-nationalists in Balochistan supported by foreign countries were alarming. The concerns for a blowback if an operation was launched against terrorism driven by fanatical ideology-based loyalties also thickened the looming shadows of despair. In spite of all that Pakistan Armed Forces personifying courage and commitment, launched Operation Zarb-e-Azb to rid the country of terrorism and its other wicked manifestations. Pakistan also accepted the fight on two fronts but remained undeterred by the Indian diversionary moves along eastern border.

These operations brought concrete results and Pakistan Army fought vigorously to defeat the TTP and its allied groups, a task in which armies around the world have either failed or are struggling. The other enemies of peace were also targeted comprehensively in the entire country and normalcy has been restored; though at a heavy cost of death and disability paid by the valiant sons of the nation. With the right decisions, meticulous planning and bold execution, peace and security in the entire country has improved manifold. Today, we have a sense of hope and direction.

Alongside fighting the war, the institutional strength of the Pakistan Armed Forces showing wide-ranging capability and capacity, relentlessly worked to operationalize China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. Pakistan Armed Forces have played a fundamental role to operationalize this project. The moving convoys along CPEC route will slash poverty and unlock countless opportunities for business and trade with its dividends reaching the common man. This is a practical manifestation of guaranteeing peace and prosperity to the people of Pakistan.

Altogether fitting was ex-COAS General Raheel Sharif’s statement before his departure, "Our challenges are not yet over.... Our journey towards peace is still underway, but our destination is not far off." Displaying the same resolve, new Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa has also assured the nation that war against terrorism will continue till total elimination of terrorism from Pakistan’s sacred soil. He has vowed that no terrorists of any hue and colour will ever be allowed to come back. He has also warned the enemy to stay away from mischief along eastern border else expect a befitting response every time and everywhere.

These successes on all external and internal fronts vindicate the institutional strength of Pakistan Armed Forces. Through a well structured system of thorough planning, bold execution and self-accountable course correction, Pakistan Armed Forces are well poised under all circumstances to come up to the expectations of the nation. We assure the nation that fight against extremism, terrorism and violence will be carried forward with utmost dedication and resilience till the elimination of last violent actor. The enemy on eastern border shall always find us vigilant to respond in the same coin.

We stand for peace but shall never shy away from other options!

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