The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) Minhas base at Kamra near Attock was attacked by the Taliban during the early hours of August 16, the 27th of Ramazan. Nine attackers died after killing one guard, injuring a senior officer and damaging a surveillance plane. This was the fourth attack involving the base, which was foretold by intelligence reports in great detail, naming names and locating the germinating spot in North Waziristan under the leadership of the Taliban chief, Hakimullah Mehsud. The assailants were killed but not before they had penetrated the outer wall of the base and entered the facility.
Unlike the attack on the Mehran naval base earlier, which took 17 hours to clear, the suicide bombers were not able to hold the base but were quickly disposed of in 20 minutes. The worrying fact, however, was that despite very detailed intelligence, the terrorists were able to climb over the wall. The Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) proudly owned the attack, timing it with reports that Pakistan was getting ready to launch an operation in North Waziristan.
The TV discussions that followed ignored a whole lot of straightforward information and chose instead to repeat the charge that the TTP was working for Pakistan’s external enemies. Retired military officers and TV anchors trundled out the usual frog-chorus of how the Americans were paying the likes of Hakimullah Mehsud and getting his suicide bombers to attack Pakistan’s military installations. A report in The New York Times, which had pointed to a rumour that Pakistan was storing its nuclear arsenal at Kamra, was made the basis of how Americans were converging to a strategy of ‘taking out’ Pakistan’s nuclear deterrence. What was ignored was an official statement from Washington that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons were safe because they were not at Kamra.
The designation of the ‘enemy’ was arrived at all over again in the face of years of hard evidence to the contrary. It was America, the eternal enemy of the Muslims in general and Pakistan in particular. Tagged to the US were two other ideological and religious enemies: India and Israel. All the previous attacks were also attributed to America, making the discussion absurd. Without proof, the miracle of concocting a mindset of our choice has been achieved. Now, the entire nation believes that its tormentor is not the Taliban who continue to shout from rooftops that they are staging attacks because Pakistan continues to be an ally of the US. Amazingly, the TV discussions after the Kamra attack embraced the Taliban point of view that Pakistan was suffering because of its abjectly slavish policy of following orders from Washington.
Shockingly, Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, who had said on August 14 that Pakistan’s crisis was internal, related to a general embrace of extremism and violence, was indirectly attacked for presumably planning to stage an operation against the terrorists in North Waziristan. He was guilty of telling us the truth: that the trouble in Pakistan was of our own making and had to be tackled internally. The discussants countered that by saying that if the army chief wanted to confront the terrorists in North Waziristan, he must approach the elected government and ask it to ‘go to the people’ and take their consent to the operation. Reference was made to earlier parliamentary resolutions mandating the army to stop drone attacks on Pakistani territory and demand that US-Nato forces respect Pakistan’s territorial sovereignty.
The main opposition party, the PML-N, has already told the army chief not to attack the terrorists in North Waziristan despite intelligence reports that the Taliban will attack the PMLN-ruled Punjab in the near future. Punjab’s inspector general of police, after receiving the reports, conveniently took off for umrah in Saudi Arabia. Parliament has not framed laws that could prevent the acquittal of killers in the court of law; now, the politicians feel that North Waziristan should not be attacked by the army. If you ask the people, the reply is likely to be not in support of any operation — without any blame attaching to the ordinary Pakistani, poisoned by the lies pouring out of a section of our manipulated media and mainstream curricula.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 18th, 2012.