Attack on PAF base in Kamra

Published: August 16, 2012
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Conspiracy theories and denial only end up helping Taliban as it allows to deflect the blame away from our own society. PHOTO: AFP

Conspiracy theories and denial only end up helping Taliban as it allows to deflect the blame away from our own society. PHOTO: AFP

The 27th night of Ramazan is supposed to be one of prayer and quiet reflection. For a group of militants, operating under the guise of religion, it became a night of carnage and death as they attacked the PAF base in Kamra and kept the security forces at bay for over four hours. The Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has accepted responsibility for the attack. The first thing this audacious raid shows is that, despite a general drop in the number of attacks, the militants are still able to strike at will at some of the most well-guarded security installations in the country. PAF Minhas is the site of some of our more advanced weaponry, including the Saab-2000 surveillance aircraft and our nascent drone programme. Needless to say, militants should not have been able to get within striking distance of a base that should have been impenetrable.

What makes this attack even worse is that it was not a one-off event. We have seen similar militant attacks at the GHQ, PNS Mehran and at the police training academy near Lahore. It would appear that our security establishment has not learned from past mistakes or, even if they have, we would not know about it since any investigation into the attacks is kept under wraps. This time, the military cannot even claim that they were taken by surprise. As a report in this newspaper a few days ago had revealed, intelligence reports received by the home department had claimed that the Taliban were planning on attacking the PAF on the 27th or 28th of Ramazan. As this forewarning was not enough to halt the militants’ progress in Kamra, some would say that it shows our security forces just aren’t prepared to take on the militant threat. The level of security and alertness was found thoroughly wanting.

An investigation into the attack must be held and its conclusions made public. We are generally kept in the dark about militant attacks, such as the ones targeting the GHQ and PNS Mehran. This time, keeping the investigation under wraps should not be an option. There are many questions that need to be answered and the public must be kept informed. Perhaps, the most important question is whether the militants had any inside help. We know that the military, especially in the lower ranks, has people sympathetic to the militants. Not only should anyone who may have assisted in these attacks be named and court-martialled, the military must also cleanse its ranks off any militant sympathisers. Previous investigations into similar attacks have only resulted in the suspensions of a few personnel at best, with no one being held accountable for the serious security lapses.

This and other similar attacks are in many ways an outcome, so to speak, of our skewered security policies, such as of ‘strategic depth’ and of instigating proxy wars in Kashmir and Afghanistan. The ‘assets’, or at least some of them, that the state used for these proxy wars, particularly the military and its agencies, have now turned against us. However, those in the military are not the only ones who need to take a long, hard look in the mirror. Even society at large has obstinately stuck its head in the sand and refused to confront the obvious: that these militants are home-grown and not part of some diabolical American or Indian conspiracy, and failure to recognise even that basic fact is, perhaps, one of the reasons we are unable to extricate and wipe out terrorism and militancy from its root. One TV channel even claimed that one of the attackers was a foreigner, although it never explained how it found this out, especially since the ‘news’ was reported while the attack was ongoing. Conspiracy theories and denial only end up helping the Taliban as it allows it to deflect the blame away from our own society and heap it on foreigners. This mentality will not help in defeating the menace of militancy and terrorism. There is a need to decide on a broader strategy to tackle militants. Foremost among any strategy should be to tackle the TTP head on and at the same time, dispense with our past strategy of using ‘strategic assets’ as part of our foreign policy.

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

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Reader Comments (21)

  • ulta pulta
    Aug 16, 2012 - 9:45PM

    Kayani must resign.

    Recommend

  • ulta pulta
    Aug 16, 2012 - 9:48PM

    If a civil institution had suffered such persistent security failures at this scale, the people heading them or the prime minister would have been roasted by the opposition and the media. Why no such demand for accepting responsibility by the armed forces’ heads?

    Recommend

  • entropy
    Aug 16, 2012 - 10:00PM

    Express Tribune, can you prove that the leaders of the TTP, the Mehsud brothers, were ever Pakistani assets? You make this claim repeatedly but do you have even the slightest bit of evidence to back it up?

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  • Indian Wisdom
    Aug 16, 2012 - 10:56PM

    if you have such great assets who need enemies”

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  • Anti-mullah
    Aug 16, 2012 - 11:03PM

    If our military is not capable of handling terrorism. It’s budget should be slashed and police forces be developed. Army has repeatedly disappointed us. They are responsible for countering both internal and external threats.

    Recommend

  • Indian
    Aug 16, 2012 - 11:04PM

    How would it be if India now declare TTP ‘freedom fighters’???

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  • Karachiite
    Aug 16, 2012 - 11:52PM

    Kiyani’s boss Zardari must resign..!

    Recommend

  • numbersnumbers
    Aug 17, 2012 - 12:14AM

    It is near impossible to prevent such an attack on a large perimeter military base like an airbase, especially when it joins civilian population areas. The TTP/terrorists/whatever do not wear uniforms that signify what they are, so they easily blend into the civilian population until they strike. The fact that the attackers wore Pakistani Army Uniforms further confuses the situation, especially at night.
    When discovered, the base security teams INTERCEPTED the attackers and fought a pitched battle with them for hours under the fog of night combat, and should be commended for their gallantry.
    The important thing to realize is that THE DEFENCE PLAN FOR THE BASE WORKED, the attackers were killed, and base loses in personnel and equipement were minimal.
    Anyone who believes that the plan failed should do 2 things; spend endless boring nights on perimeter guard duty at any number of Military bases in the country, waiting for an enemy who never comes, AND please accompany ISI officers through local towns and point out all TERRORISTS for them!
    PLEASE NOTE how the TTP spokesman now has claimed that THEIR men accomplished their mission and killed DOZENS of army personnel in heroic combat! NOT!

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  • entropy
    Aug 17, 2012 - 12:54AM

    Anti-mullah

    If our military is not capable of
    handling terrorism. […]They are
    responsible for countering both
    internal and external threats.

    Errr…no…internal security is the responsibility of the interior ministry, not the military.

    Recommend

  • hamid
    Aug 17, 2012 - 1:06AM

    i agree kayani should resign because this is not proffesionalism..why was he given extension? inspite of so many embarasments…it doesn’t happen in any proffesional army ..be it Turkey, China, US, Uk, France or any any powerful army which gives unjustified Extensions.It happens only in banana republic.

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  • Vigilant
    Aug 17, 2012 - 3:24AM

    The Great Game

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  • Avtar
    Aug 17, 2012 - 4:06AM

    In Pakistan, senior Military leaders have never tendered their resignations when such incidents occured or when defeated (1971). May be Mr. Zardari should take Egyptian Morsi’s lead to ask the military ‘dinosaurs’ to retire.

    A thoughtful editorial indeed.

    Recommend

  • Cautious
    Aug 17, 2012 - 5:02AM

    Interesting editorial – given the number of similar incidents perhaps it’s time to cut to the chase and demand the resignation of the top military brass – pretty clear they aren’t doing the job.

    Recommend

  • karma
    Aug 17, 2012 - 9:42AM

    @Entropy:

    Evidence? Is there a shred of evidence to prove Sun exists?? It could just be a light bulb!! No one has touched it, though all have felt it.

    To appreciate evidence, you need to have an open mind. For a closed mind, anything can be denied as evidence.

    Just search any unbiased study about the creation of Taliban. Taliban was born after fall of USSR in Pakistan. In 1991, it was created in Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam run schools. Pakistan army Nurtured and financially supported this movement, with the intention of creating a proxy to control Afghanistan. It spawned many radical groups.

    If that isn’t proof enough – anything you read about Sun’s existence also can be denied. How do you prove it isn’t a bright light bulb up there in the sky, to a man who only wants to deny?

    Recommend

  • Maria
    Aug 17, 2012 - 9:58AM

    @ulta pulta: Why should Kayani resign when he has restored professionalism to the army – especially after the last dictator is the one who got the military mired in dirty politics and businesses? The Pak military has got the better of anti state criminals and foreign agents who are hated by common Pakistanis. If anything, the PAF security personnel did a stellar job in limiting the attack under very difficult circumstances- namely anti state criminals wearing Pak military uniforms striking an airbase secretly in the middle of the night and that too in Ramadan. I still believe that all military bases should be moved away from urban centres and major roads, especially GHQ in order to make security that much easier and to create a larger security perimeter. Unfortunately some of the military staff, especially GHQ seems to want to live in posh urban centres instead of shifting to more secure locations outside of major cities and roads. We all know it is easier to secure an area far away from large population centres because any intrusion is easily caught. The Navy base attack in the midst of a populated area of Karachi was a prime example. I imagine this discussion is going on right now in military circles.

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  • entropy
    Aug 17, 2012 - 5:55PM

    karma

    Just search any unbiased study about
    the creation of Taliban. Taliban was
    born after fall of USSR in Pakistan.

    The kamra attack was carried out by the so-called Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan which is not the same organization as the Afghan Taliban. You are confusing them with each other, but they have dfferent leaders, different origins, different goals, different methods.

    Recommend

  • Aug 17, 2012 - 8:07PM

    To Whom It May Concern:

    Isn’t it alarming that as and when there’s a national disaster, top appoinments are never available in the country. This means they’re in the know of what’s going
    to occur in Pakistan.Recommend

  • akhtar
    Aug 17, 2012 - 9:29PM

    Pakistan leaders are reponsible for this even if they don’t accept… one day they will have to face all this.

    Recommend

  • Abbas Naqvi
    Aug 18, 2012 - 6:45PM

    @ulta pulta:
    Kayani is not responsible for the defence of PAF bases. He is Army Chief, not PAF Chief.

    Recommend

  • umair ali
    Aug 19, 2012 - 3:34PM

    This article does not have a good approach. It is criticizing the military despite the fact that the PAF guards repulsed the attack.

    The brave base commander leading from the front got injured and returned from the hospital to join the fight to defend the base.

    The media should not criticize too much, rather it has to learn a lot to do sensible reporting.

    Recommend

  • Maryam
    Sep 6, 2012 - 9:41PM

    they are not treating their own officers rightly specially gdp branch removing them from service without rhyme or reason destroying families and future of their small children. Recommend

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