The week that has just passed showed no major change for the better in the overall national security perspective. The worlds eyes were focused on the standoff between the two major allies - USA and Pakistan - in the war on terror. According to several analysts, both countries stuck to their stance and refused to submit; compelling domestic pressures were quoted as the insiders revelations without publicly confessing the truth. However, in private meetings and conferences, the environment was not as bad as the media on both sides had portrayed. The American and Pakistani military leaderships, too, made no effort to conceal the fact that the withdrawal strategy of the US and NATO forces from Afghanistan had been announced and whatever the differences, any attempt to upset the apple cart now was out of the question, since the ultimate goal remained undisputed. Both sides realised that they need each other, without which neither can succeed in achieving their common objective, that is, to eliminate terrorism from the region. But it is easier said than done. Often, the tones of official pronouncements from Washington and Islamabad are different. For instance, recently the USA suspended $800 million military aid to Pakistan after Islamabad sought the expulsion of over 100 American military trainers. However, to reduce the harsh impact of this punitive aid cut-off to GHQ, White House assured that the financial support promised to Pakistan for its civilian projects will continue. Yet, tensions continue since the American administration has declared that the restoration of aid would be conditional upon GHQs meeting its agenda presented to it after the killing of Al-Qaeda Chief Osama bin Laden in a unilateral action by the US Navy SEALs in Abbottabad. Against this backdrop, Pakistan armys response to the US demands was wise quick and quite clear: No conditional aid is acceptable. The Corps Commanders meeting held at GHQ last Tuesday, chaired by Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, reiterated that: p Pakistan Army will not accept conditional aid. p Pakistan has suffered the most damage in the ongoing war on terror, both in monetary value as well as in human casualties, as compared to its allies. Yet, instead of appreciating its efforts, it is consistently being pressurised by the US to do more. p In the supreme interest of the countrys security, if Washington is asked to scale down its military instructors and CIA agents present in Pakistan, its request is resented. To put it plainly, it seems that Pakistans national security interests are a hindrance in USAs nefarious designs for the region. Indeed, all conflicting views need to be discussed by both sides, rather than exchange harsh words. Meanwhile, the recent visit by US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen and Central Command (Centcom) Commander General James N. Mattis to Islamabad did not help to improve the situation. Although the purpose of their visit was to discuss security issues in the wake of recent developments, yet not much was reported by the media about the nature of their meetings. Strange as it may seem, there was no official word whether General Mattis met General Kayani in Rawalpindi. According to some media reports, the COAS had been addressing officers at various garrisons and making himself available wherever his presence was essential in the larger interest of Pakistans security. Besides, DG ISI General Ahmad Shuja Pashas brief visit to Washington could also be termed as a major event of the week, although not much is known about it. Anyway, sometimes it is necessary to keep high-profile events in low-key, since premature exposure of sensitive issues proves to be counterproductive. As a final word, the alarming situation calls for national consensus and resolve by our civilian and military leadership, and the people of Pakistan, not only to preserve democracy, but also safeguard the countrys sovereignty. But if we fail to do so the existence of the state may be imperilled. n The writer is President of the Pakistan National Forum.