In what appears to be an eyewash, investigators probing the PNS Mehran attack have stated merely the obvious in their inquiry report: that the attack happened due to “flawed security arrangements” at the PNS Mehran and PAF Faisal airbase.
The report, compiled by a joint investigation team (JIT) formed by the navy chief after the May 22 attack, is not expected to be made public.
Meanwhile, police confirmed on Saturday that they have received DNA reports of the four terrorists and said that while reports “prove that the terrorists were not Pakistanis,” they have not been able to determine anything beyond that conclusion.
Matching of the terrorists’ fingerprints with the National Database and Registration Authority’s (Nadra) records also yielded no results, adding weight to the assertion that the attackers were not Pakistani nationals, or at least not registered with Nadra, sources said.
The DNA and Nadra report have been included in the report compiled by the JIT and has been sent to navy chief and other concerned authorities, sources added.
Conceding security failure
At the time of the attack, security at both Faisal and Mehran air bases was “inadequate,” the report says, adding that this allowed the terrorists to scale a wall from the Shah Faisal sewage drain side, enter Faisal air base and walk about 800 metres to the runway where they fired rockets at the maritime surveillance P-3C Orion aircraft.
The report concedes the security failure, and adds that greater coordination among the armed forces is required to protect the base against future attacks. The report has been compiled by the JIT formed by navy chief Admiral Noman Bashir and headed by Rear Admiral Tehseenullah Khan.
Pakistan Air Force, Federal Investigation Agency and representatives of intelligence agencies were part of the inquiry team. Initially scheduled to be completed by June 5, the JIT received an extension on Khan’s request.
Sources say reports from DNA tests and NADRA’s fingerprint matching appear to reinforce investigators’ initial hunch that terrorists “appeared foreign, possibly from central Asian states.”
“DNA tests were conducted in the federal government’s laboratory in Islamabad and the report concludes that terrorists were related, possibly from the same family,” said East Zone II (Investigations) SSP Niaz Khosa while taking to The Express Tribune.
“Their DNA was tested against samples of all major ethnicities in Pakistan and they did not match,” said Khosa adding that “this proves that they were not Pakistanis.”
Khosa, however, added that they have not been able to determine the nationality of the terrorists. He said that investigations were underway and nothing could be said with certainty about the number of terrorists who attacked Mehran base. He added that no arrests have been made in this regard.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 19th, 2011.