Bannu jailbreak

The fight against militancy is looking tougher than ever.

Editorial April 16, 2012

The audacious Taliban attack on a jail in Bannu that allowed nearly 400 prisoners, including hardcore militants (among them a former Pakistan Air Force technician convicted of an assassination attempt on former president Pervez Musharraf), represents a security failure of unimaginable proportions. In the days ahead, we are sure to see various actors trying to explain their incompetence. The federal government will likely claim that since prisons are a provincial subject it holds no responsibility for the attack. This rationalisation should not be accepted. With militants being housed in prisons, it becomes the responsibility of the centre to ensure that all prison officers are properly trained in counter-terrorism. As we have previously seen with the attacks on the Lahore police training school, militants are ready to strike police forces at any time and so police officers need to be ready for such attacks. It is clear that they are in no position to fend off militants right now.

Law-enforcement agencies — civilian as well as military — cannot be let off the hook for the prison break. Intelligence is chiefly the responsibility of the agencies and they have failed in this instance. Planning a raid of this magnitude requires a lot of time and planning, which should have given the intelligence agencies sufficient opportunity to detect and disrupt it. Furthermore, given numerous reports all suggesting that the escapees were driven away in buses, would suggest complicity at some level among the prison security staff. The raid is also a reflection of the failure of the military to defeat the Taliban despite the operations it has carried out in the tribal areas.

Apart from the intelligence failure, the Bannu break-out will also make the Taliban stronger because some of its most valuable planners are now free to resume their militant activities. Not only was this attack an indication of how strong the Taliban remains, its success has made it even stronger, as it has brought many militants back into its fold. This bodes ill for a government and security establishment that has been made to look weak and ineffectual in front of the daring and coordination of the Taliban. The fight against militancy is looking tougher than ever.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 17th, 2012.


You Said It | 9 years ago | Reply

Not only was this attack an indication of how strong the Taliban remains, its success has made it even stronger, as it has brought many militants back into its fold.

Disagree with this assessment. The attack is not an indication of the strength of the Taliban, but an indication of the weakness of Pakistan's commitment to fight militancy.

It is no surprise that the world dismisses our claims of numerous sacrifices in the fight against terrorism and our claim that Pakistan is the biggest victim of terror, when our security establishment doesn't even make a serious attempt to hold on to the gains made against terrorists.

This incident is going to invite a whole lot of suspicion about Pakistan's commitment to the war on terror, and as an ally. It will invite suspicions and allegations of complicity of our intelligence agencies in deliberately allowing militants to escape in order to aid the Taliban against the Afghan government. In such an environment, we will only be left issuing denials and pointing to the few instances of our cooperation, while most of the world will have lost confidence in anything we say and will dismiss our denials out of hand.

A Peshawary | 9 years ago | Reply

Intelegence failure a routine matter in Pakistan. They are good for spying against civilian governement of the country. So, Why are they being paid big salary and huge fringe benifits in addition to the secrect funds from public money.

A Peshawary

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