Despite the relative success of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) in repelling a militant raid, some lingering questions remain about the militants’ approach and choice of targets.
The official version of the PAF is different from what sources told The Express Tribune. According to a PAF spokesman, the militants climbed the boundary wall to enter the premises of the base and were intercepted by Sepoy Asif Ramzan, who was guarding a post. Ramzan suffered bullet injuries and later died.
However, sources said that, apparently aware of the heavy security presence on the main route that passes through the GT Road, the militants used another road that links Attock with GT road.
Dressed in military uniform, they travelled in a double-cabin jeep similar to the ones used by security officials and passed through some army installations, including an army check post before entering the premises. When their vehicle was stopped at the second check post in the vicinity of PAF Minhas, the militants exited the car all guns blazing. One source added that the driver of the vehicle managed to escape in the jeep. The footage of the vehicle was recorded by a CCTV camera located on the post, the source claimed. Surprisingly, there is no mention of this vehicle in PAF’s official version so far.
Then there was the apparent knowledge of what they were attacking.
According to insiders, Kamra airbase is one of the most sophisticated installations of PAF and the major overhauling facility for all types of fighter jets used by the air force. “The militants chose the base side where the Saab-2000 aircraft were parked,” they said.
Pakistan has a total of three Sweden manufactured Saab-2000 aircrafts, the most sophisticated surveillance aircraft the country has now. Saab-2000 look like 737 passenger planes but are equipped with state-of-the-art radar systems for surveillance.
It is not clear if it was a Saab-2000 that was damaged during the attack. “I can tell you that one plane was damaged and it suffered a substantial damage. I cannot reveal the name of the craft… please wait for the inquiry report,” said Tariq Mehmood, the PAF spokesman.
All PAF installations are guarded by the Defence Services Guard, including Minhas base, which is an elite wing of the PAF. After similar attacks on security establishments, the PAF deployed its special services wing personnel to guard all its bases. They are specially trained commandos like SSG commandos of the Pakistan Army.
Air Chief Marshal Tahir Rafique Butt, Chief of the Air Staff of PAF has constituted a board of inquiry headed by Air Marshal Syed Athar Hussain Bukhari to probe the various key aspects of the brazen assault.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 17th, 2012.