"We will not allow negative form of extremism and terrorism to cow us down," he said.

In a significant speech on Wednesday, Pakistan Army Chief Ashfaq Parvez Kayani invoked Jinnah and Iqbal as he spoke about the national will to restore the “rightful identity” of the country by standing up to “internal and external” threats.

While he identified the “internal” threats as terrorism and extremism, Gen. Kayani outlined the external threat in a thinly veiled but surprisingly aggressive reference to India as “an adventurous” and “hostile” neighbour that was constantly threatening Pakistan.

The Army and the government have in recent weeks repeatedly accused India of involvement not only in the troubles in the Balochistan province, but also of funding the Taliban and providing them with medicines and weapons as Pakistan’s armed forces take them on in South Waziristan.

Chief Minister of Punjab Province Shahbaz Sharif, speaking in the Balochistan capital Quetta on Wednesday, also repeated the allegation of the “Indian hand” in Balochistan and Waziristan. Even though Gen. Kayani did not name the “hostile neighbour” in his speech once, there was little doubt he meant India.

A reported line in the speech that the Army would go “to any lengths” to protect the sovereignty of the nation had created its own buzz in Pakistan’s politically volatile atmosphere.

The Army Chief was addressing the passing-out parade at the Air Force Academy in Risalpur.

Tackling challenges

“Today, we have been challenged as never before,” he said. “I have full faith and conviction that we, as a nation of 170 million people have the will and resolve to surmount these challenges. The nation stands fully united to confront these challenges and ensure that Pakistan of Quaid-e-Azam and Allama Muhammad Iqbal is restored to its rightful identity.”

The armed forces were “fully alive to the complete spectrum of threats that confront the nation,” Gen. Kayani said. “Let no one misjudge our resolve, we will Inshallah protect and defend Pakistan.”

There was no contradiction in the practice of true religious values and progress, Gen. Kayani noted.

“However, we will not allow negative form of extremism and terrorism to cow us down,” he said.

More In: International | News