Risalpur under fire

Despite the presence of a large number of military personnel, not every location can be kept under constant watch.

Editorial August 26, 2011

The bomb blast in the military town of Risalpur in the Nowshera district just goes to highlight that no place is safe and no amount of security can make it so. Risalpur, located less than 10 kilometres away from the town of Nowshera of course houses the prestigious air force academy at Risalpur and is studded with other military institutions that stand all around. But obviously, despite the presence of a large number of military personnel, not every location can be kept under constant watch. The terrorists who move through our country can mingle easily with crowds, and also slip undetected into market places.

This factor obviously played a role in allowing a bomb to be placed at a restaurant where some air force officers had planned an iftari. Five personnel from the force were among the 11 killed as the device detonated. Reports say it had been attached to a cycle, perhaps a child’s tricycle. 15 others suffered injuries. The question of whether the terrorists had any inside information about the iftari is an open one. There is really no way of saying. The eatery was frequented by military personnel daily at iftar time, so it could have been the target for a random attack. On the other hand groups engaged in terrorism have in the past been able to gain access to inside information that makes them even more dangerous.

The tactics used at Risalpur are not new. Previously, a bakery used often by military personnel was targeted in Nowshera. This should make it easier to identify precisely which groups are behind the attack and who is planning them. Surely our elaborate intelligence network has succeeded in infiltrating, at least, some of these groups and determining how they operate. If this has not happened, it is a matter of grave concern — and something that needs to be looked into. The first-ever major attack on Risalpur should remind us of the urgency required in the matter and the need to take action to break-up the forces, who as yet are able to quite easily reach their targets and strike them at will.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 27th, 2011.