Even as President and supreme commander of the armed forces Asif Ali Zardari's health remained a matter of speculation, the military leadership of Pakistan has decided to deploy air defence weapons along the border with Afghanistan to avoid the kind of attack two Army outposts faced in the wee hours of November 26.

Though there was no official announcement, this was apparently disclosed by the Director-General of Military Operations during a briefing for the federal Cabinet and the Senate's Defence Committee on Thursday.

According to Dawn, the decision was taken in view of a threat perception along the western border from the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. Till now, Pakistani troops along that border were geared to deal with insurgents and terrorists but now they will also be prepared for an air attack.

Chief of Army Staff Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has already released the rank-and-file from the ‘chain of command' that necessitated waiting for orders before retaliating to an attack. Both these decisions are expected to escalate tensions along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border and, thereby, further strain relations between the two countries, but Pakistan's contention is that it has to first protect its own territory before trying to stabilise Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, as speculation continued about the President's health — with some reports suggesting that he may be shifted to the U.K. — leading anchorperson Hamid Mir claimed he had spoken to Mr. Zardari. The President, he said, was fine and would return home soon.

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