KARACHI: Of late, it has been noticed that terrorists have been using military uniforms for gaining access and attacking their targets, mostly government/military installations. There are many examples in which militants have dressed in uniforms used by security personnel to either ease their way to the outer cordons of secure installations or to wield an air of authority that initially masks their intent.
Recently, Shia passengers in four buses were shot dead in Mansehra district by terrorists wearing commando uniforms. In Kohistan in February of this year, in yet another attack on Shias in a bus, gunmen dressed in military uniform killed several people. Militants, who in October 2009 attacked GHQ, were wearing military uniforms as were those who attacked the Mehran airbase in Karachi in May 2011 and the PAF base Minhas in Kamra last month.
After the attack on GHQ in 2009, it was decided by GHQ that all shops selling different items of military uniforms in the local market would be made to sell such items only to authorised persons. Clearly, this decision was never implemented. There are thousands of shops in the country supplying all kinds of clothing related to the army, navy, Rangers, coast guards and the police and this also includes rank badges, unit shoulder signs, caps, cap badges, armbands, belts, boots, stitched uniforms and availability of cloth for any type of uniform. There are also tailors in the local market where one can get these uniforms stitched. At a barber shop, one can also get a military-style haircut. Similarly, all types of military cloth and stitched uniforms, boots, belts and caps, etc, are also available in large quantities in local lunda bazaars in just about every major Pakistani city.
It is pertinent to note that no item of PAF uniform is allowed for sale in the local market. All uniform items of PAF are sold only in its own controlled stores and new items are issued to PAF personnel only after their existing uniform items are rendered unserviceable through wear and tear. Furthermore, PAF personnel have to return these unserviceable items and these are then converted into cleaning rags. Hence, there is very little chance of misuse of any uniform item worn by someone who serves in the PAF.
I would request the army chief to issue directives on the uniform issue so that the army has the same standard operating procedure for uniforms as the PAF.
Sqn-Ldr (retd) S Ausaf Husain
Published in The Express Tribune, September 9th, 2012.
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