Pakistan may have experienced the first violent reaction to Osama bin Laden’s killing as men on motorcycles hurled two grenades at the Saudi consulate in Karachi. The attack was an amateurish one and no one was killed. Still, the attackers managed to escape and thus law-enforcement agencies are clueless as to who was behind the attack. Since Saudi interests are rarely targeted in the country, it is reasonable to assume that this may have been a response to the US operation that killed Bin Laden in Abbottabad. Saudi Arabia, remember, had refused to accept Bin Laden’s body and reports have emerged in recent days revealing that the Saudis had been providing intelligence to the US.
After Bin Laden was killed, Pakistan, and indeed the world, had been expecting enraged terrorists to strike out in anger. If indeed this was the opening salvo from the militants, we should be thankful that it caused no loss of life. It would not be too pessimistic to predict that they will try and strike again. Thus, it is disheartening that the heavy police and security presence outside the Saudi consulate was unable to stop and apprehend the attackers. The Saudi consulate has protection from the police, the Rangers, the Frontier Constabulary and even private security guards, yet none of them were able to do their jobs properly.
It is imperative that the government beef up security at all embassies and consulates across the country. Already, Pakistan stands isolated in the world. The inability to protect our few allies will only hasten our descent to the status of an international pariah. Time and again, terrorists have demonstrated the ability to attack state institutions and sensitive targets at will. The key here is good intelligence so we can thwart such attacks at the planning stage rather than reacting helplessly after an attack has taken place.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 13th, 2011.