Western military forces from over 43 countries descended upon Afghanistan in 2001 as part of the ISAF mission set at the Bonn Conference in December 2001. In 2014, the end of the ISAF mission in Afghanistan led to the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission, with troops from 36 nations stationed in the war-ravaged country. This two trillion dollar 20 year long war effort has left behind countless tales of death and destruction. On the 31st of August 2021 western forces packed up and left, but the experience has been an undeniable rollercoaster ride for the people of Pakistan. It is nothing short of remarkable for Pakistan to have survived the brutal onslaught of fire and fury that raged not only in Afghanistan, but equally in the cities and villages of Pakistan. Since 2001 Pakistan has faced over 19,000 terrorist attacks on its soil. Most major towns of Pakistan suffered suicide, gun and bomb attacks. Pakistani mosques were attacked, airports were attacked, schools were attacked, court houses were attacked, hotels were attacked and every other conceivable civilian target came under attack. Pakistanis not only suffered around 86000 casualties, but also had to bear upwards of 126 billion dollars in economic losses. West’s war on terror happened to be completely blind to any realization of a need to insulate the people of Pakistan, designated as major non-Nato allies, from the destructive repercussions of the Afghan War. In many ways it actually provided room for hostile intelligence agencies to use the western war effort as a launchpad of chaos across the length and breadth of Pakistan. It wouldn’t be far-fetched to imagine that, were it not for the valiant armed forces of Pakistan, conditions in our homeland today, in all likelihood would have resembled those in Syria, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen and Sudan. While the military might of the western world was brought upon the Taliban, and terrorist groups sheltering in Afghanistan, they were flushed mercilessly across the border into Pakistan. President Musharraf was furious after the Battle of Tora Bora in 2001. He called Commander Centcom Gen Franks demanding emphatically; “General what are you doing? You’re flushing these guys out and there are 150 valleys for them to move through. They’re pouring into my country.” Gen Franks didn’t have a clear answer. As a consequence, when the Pakistan army deployed 3 brigades in Khyber, Kurram and Orakzai to establish blocking positions, India initiated the largest mobilisation of military forces against Pakistan since independence called Operation Parakram, and then escalated it into a full fledged military stand off lasting ten critical months. With Pakistan army, navy and air force standing eyeball to eyeball with Indian forces on our eastern border, every type of terrorist associated with AlQaeda from Arabs, Uzbeks, Chechens, Uyghurs, Tajiks, Turkmens, Yemenis, etc kept trickling into Pakistan along the porous western border. The Pakistan army, in spite of the threat from India established 665 checkpoints with 75000 troops along its side of the 2640 kilometers long Afghan border to apprehend the foreign fighters, while coalition forces established just 69 posts with only 25000 troops, which was certainly not enough to man the entire border. Having gained a foothold in Pakistan, these Al Qaeda elements helped established TTP and then attacked the the central prison in Dera Ismail Khan to demoralize law enforcement, attacked the Police Academy in Quetta to discourage recruitment, attacked the Minhas Air Base at Kamra targeting PAF’s sophisticated airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) Saab 2000 Erieyeaircraft, attacked the Mehran Naval Aviation Base targeting Pak Navy’s sophisticated anti-submarine and marine surveillance P-3C Orion aircraft, attacked Pakistan Ordinance Factory in WahCantt targeting sophisticated military production capacity of Pakistan army, attacked ISI offices in Multan, attacked ISI offices in Faisalabad, attacked ISI offices in Sukkur, attacked ISI offices in Lahore, and even attacked Army General Headquarters-GHQ targeting the leadership of Pakistan’s armed forces. Just between 2002 to 2018, 479 suicide attacks were carried out on Pakistani soil resulting in over 22,000 casualties resulting from suicide attacks alone. These attacks were not conducted only to create lawlessness in Pakistan, but the strategic targeting of these attacks clearly points towards a foreign sponsorship that sought to destroy the capacity of our armed forces to resist foreign aggression, and to diminish Pakistan’s resilience as a viable state, enough for us to be pushed into the same category as other failed states in the middle east. However, defenders of Pakistan’s frontiers did not fail us. Pakistan army conducted over 1237 major and minor operations along the western border. Pakistan Air Force conducted over 375 sorties, where more than 2000 terrorist targets were engaged. Pakistan’s intelligence and law enforcement agencies launched a decade long massive country wide crackdown against all AlQaeda and TTP affiliated groups, with 371,000 intelligence based operations-IBOs, eliminating over 18000 terrorists and capturing/killing more than 1,100 hardcore Al Qaeda, ISIS, TTP operatives and bringing them to justice. Under a constant threat of attack, our courageous armed forces have fence over 90 percent of the 2640kmsPak-Afghan border despite the treacherous terrain, while more than 37 percent fencing of Pak-Iran border has also been completed, in addition to the building of 482 border forts along the border fence. With rivers of blood, thousands of graves, thousands of orphans, and thousands of widows, Pakistan’s heroic armed forces have succeeded in bringing terrorism down by almost 95%, at a staggering cost of over 20,000 casualties among security forces alone. On this defence day in 2021, as we watch the mightiest of armies the world has ever seen, run away in the middle of the night from military bases in Afghanistan, we as Pakistanis have a lot to thank the Almighty, for providing our valorous armed forces with the strength to sacrifice their lives for a better future of our citizens. At this critical juncture of our history, this nation of two hundred and twenty million, would be undoubtedly justified in recalling Churchill’s saying; “never in the field of human conflict, was so much owed, by so many, to so few.” The writer is a Pakistani tech entrepreneur based in Sweden, with a background in history, geopolitics, economy, counter-terrorism and media.