A lesson learnt and mistake rectified
Syeda Mazhar
6/10/2017

 

May 22: Armed militants stormed into a naval airbase here on Sunday night, destroyed three aircraft and killed at least five people – four navy personnel and a foreigner whose nationality could not be ascertained.”Headlines such highlighted the morning newspapers six years ago.

May 22: Armed militants stormed into a naval airbase here on Sunday night, destroyed three aircraft and killed at least five people – four navy personnel and a foreigner whose nationality could not be ascertained.”Headlines such highlighted the morning newspapers six years ago.
According to the details, an investigation team compromising police, navy, air force and intelligence agencies and found Base Commander Commodore Raja Tahir, Commanding Officer Israr and Air Base Security Officer Lt. Commander Absar irresponsible and negligent of their duties causing 10 terrorists to storm the naval base in Karachi. They held off the security personnel for 17 hours and destroyed two P3C Orion surveillance aircraft in the process. Serving as an eye opener for the security forces this particular event in the history had an immense impact on the vigilance protocol of the military bases. The multidimensional perspective of the attack can be too, viewed as an attempt to make the Pakistani defense look vulnerable. Its goal being to further embarrass the country’s security establishment like similar attacks in the past, it also conveyed a strong message to the security establishment that they remain the prime targets of the attackers. The string of events warrants a deep introspection. A cost-benefit analysis of the “strategic framework” that we have peddled so far appears to be the call of the hour. The express speed of events and the socio-economic attrition of the country has blunted the arguments that the security establishment has spun around its inaction against groups such as the Haqqani Network, Mulla Omar’s Taliban and Lashkar-e-Taiba. Being a war like operation, with the militants piercing the naval installation’s defences to race through what should have been a well-defended base, and wreak havoc on the garrison. It wasn’t an ordinary attack, if at all an attack on a military base can be called ‘ordinary’; it was a well-planned mini-invasion by highly trained killers who appeared to be well-acquainted with the layout of the naval aviation base. They knew the location of their targets, both men and material, and displayed utter contempt for the naval personnel through their astonishing speed and firepower. The intelligence failure in the Mehran tragedy highlights one more damning truth: the safe sanctuaries of the terrorists aren’t only present in Fata and Waziristan; they exist in Karachi too, for the assault would not have been possible without the existence of a well-oiled Taliban machine in the city. Underscored the extended tentacles of al Qaeda and its supporters from Waziristan to Karachi, the extent of infiltration was visible. Commando strikes at chosen targets indicate that al-Qaeda or its local “forces multipliers” such as Jaish-e-Mohammad, Harkatul Jihad Al Alami, and Junduallah used to enjoy strong support base in Karachi. Compelling evidence suggests that so far, the civilian and military security institutions seems to have acted in isolation of each other, with the civilians usually reluctant to tread upon what is considered as the “army’s assets. ” Analysts further believe that the ultimate target of such actions is to set a concrete premise in global community to denuclearize Pakistan. However, the tactics on ground are combined with application of Psy-ops strategy. The strategy primarily encompasses at carrying out large scale damage to the enemy, however in form of small attacks carried out with intervals over a period of time. While, psychologically the premise of such attacks is to desensitize the enemy populace which would eventually become apathetic and indifferent to such attacks either if these attacks are in form of drones or suicide bombings. Since, if we add up the whole damage of all the attacks (either in form of drone or terrorist attacks) carried throughout the years, we realize the mammoth destruction caused to Pakistan. Pakistan demands that all institutions join hands to develop synergies on issues such as counter-terrorism and counter-terrorism. For the sole purpose of eradicating terrorist elements from Waziristan, Operation Zarb-ul-Azb was launched and after its success the Rangers started the operation in Karachi to weaken the foothold of Taliban from Karachi as well as target their political allies functional in the city. The need of the time is a sincere, concrete and measureable effort like Zarb-ul-Azb to pull the nation out of an illusion and state of denial about whose war this really is? We must realize that even if it wasn’t, it has become our war now and we have to deal with it accordingly. The terrorists, for their survival must prove themselves and in order to prove themselves they have taken up a comparatively more vulnerable state; Pakistan, its people and the armed forces. Least did they know that Pakistan Army has learned to amplify their ammunition and made its soldiers more vigilant and efficient to deal with terrorists and their ways. Authorities need to draw up a political consensus among the major political parties in order to pull the nation out of the abyss of confusion and uncertainty and take proper measures to rid the region including the major cities of Pakistan off such elements.