Pakistan media finds "a wicked axis" of New Delhi, Washington and Tel Aviv ganging up against Islamabad. In this backdrop, protecting Pakistan from terrorists and securing the national border are the key issues on the media agenda.

The sense of paranoia is apparent in a Frontier Post editorial published on Tuesday. It says "what can you expect when a wicked axis of America's CIA, India's RAW and Israel's Mossad are so active in fuelling and fanning militancy in our tribal region? Why is it (government) keeping mum? It is because of the wickedness of this wicked axis, our military and our people have been pitched against each other."

In an opinion piece, the Post explains why crippling the ISI would be suicidal. "For last several years Indian Intelligence Agency RAW, Afghan intelligence, allegedly Israeli Mossad, and others are aiding and fuelling Balochistani separatists, causing trouble in Karachi, and turmoil in North West Frontier Province. Pakistani people resent this external interference. The vast majority of Pakistanis fully support the ISI and fully expect it to aggressively counter conspiracy of external powers, and treacherous acts," says the Peshawar-based newspaper.

The Tuesday editorial of The Nation, Lahore, points out contradictionsin statements of US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Senator John McCain, to conclude that "the Americans must stop playing the devil's advocate and compel New Delhi to furnish concrete evidence to Islamabad of involvement in the Mumbai tragedy from the Pakistani side. India needs to be delivered a stern warning against creating war hysteria and at the same time also threatening Pakistan's security by spreading its intelligence networks in Afghanistan."

In this atmosphere of mistrust, Irfan Husain comes across as a voice of reason. In his column published in The Dawn, Husain wonders whether Pakistan is really a responsible state. "Indeed, a responsible state would hardly allow the likes of Maulana Masood Azhar of the Jaish-i-Mohammad; Hafiz Saeed of the Lashkar-i-Taiba; and the Indian criminal Dawood Ibrahim to run around loose. Every time the West raises a hue and cry following a particularly vicious terrorist attack, a few militant leaders and their followers are picked up, only to be released once the furore has died down. This sends a clear signal to the security agencies that these terrorists are above the law. So why should they risk their lives arresting them, only to see them being released a few weeks later?," he writes.

A straight-speak Dawn editorial titled The Terrorism Riddle is sharply critical of the US role in fuelling terrorism in Pakistan. "Indian and American officials suggest that a Pakistani connection to the Mumbai attacks has been irrefutably established, at least in the eyes of the wider world. (There is an) unspoken line of allegation against Pakistan: that we are a state with weak governance where terrorist groups have long run amok. We wish the world, and in particular the US, was not so selective in its memories of what has brought Pakistan to such a pass," says the editorial.

"If Lashkar-e-Taiba has grown to a position of such strength, it has not done so in a vacuum. The Lashkar's capabilities grew on the watch of Gen Musharraf supported by American dollars. Militancy is a problem in the region not only because of Pakistan's numerous sins of commission but also because of the sins of the US. Making the region a safe place is no easy task now."

The Karachi-based daily, The News, reports the resurrection of Pakistan's Defence Committee of the Cabinet by Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani. The defence committee was dormant for some time but was revived on Monday. National security was the main issue of discussion.

Interestingly, the News reports that Indian external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee did call President Zardari. "The government has unimpeachable evidence about the phone call made by the Indian minister for external affairs Pranab Mukherjee to President Asif Ali Zardari and such proofs would be provided to the relevant people but the government would not allow it to become yet another controversy."