The involvement of foreign agencies in the PNS Mehran attack on Tuesday remained the central point of an in-camera session of the Senate Standing Committee on Defence and Defence Production, which directed Rear Admiral Shafqat Javed to present its preliminary investigation report to the committee by next week.
The committee, which met under the chair of Senator Lt Gen (retd) Javed Ashraf Qazi was briefed by top navy officials regarding the security arrangements on the perimeters of the Mehran Naval Base and the causes of a failure to detect the intrusion.
After the meeting, members of the committee denied rumours that they had expressed annoyance at the absence of the naval chief during the meeting.
“We never summoned the naval chief for the briefing on the PNS Mehran attack,” a member told The Express Tribune.
Committee members were seeking answers to questions like: “Who was involved in conducting such attacks which destroyed two P-3C Orion aircraft and detonating explosives at the naval base.” These aircraft were crucial for Pakistan’s maritime surveillance capabilities, the committee members added.
They directed Rear Admiral Javed to investigate the attack in detail, focussing on the above-mentioned queries. Although the panel chief refused to brief the media officials familiar with the talks told The Express Tribune that lawmakers expressed their concerns as to why the navy officials took 16 hours to clear the base. “How were the terrorists able to reach the hangars and parking areas of the naval base,” questioned a lawmaker during the meeting.
The Senate committee may call Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Noman Bashir to brief lawmakers regarding the reasons behind an inordinate delay in clearing the base from a very small number of intruders, they said. During the in-camera session senators raised questions regarding the nationality of the four terrorists killed during the fight. They also sought details of the commercial activities in the marriage hall located on the base and the extent to which it impinged the security of the base, they added.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 1st, 2011.