The terrible attack on Karachi’s Jinnah Airport which left, at least, 30 dead at the end of several hours of fear, exposes just what the Taliban intend to do to our country, and also how grave the security threat that we face is. The terrorists, 12 of whom died during the gunfire which raged at the airport for over five hours, ending at dawn, June 9, had obviously planned this attack as skilfully and precisely as those in the past.
They broke into the airport disguised as security personnel through the old Hajj Terminal and an unused engineering terminal, fully aware these were the weakest security points at the airport. A building was set ablaze, havoc created as security personnel fought back against the militants, some of whom, at least, detonated suicide vests. Others were killed by bullets.
Fortunately, no aircraft was set on fire, although there were reported attempts to do so and reportedly, even an attempted hijack. Among the dead were eight ASF personnel, two Rangers officials, one police officer and three PIA officials, including a young trainee flight engineer. Over two dozen people were injured in the attack. Passengers aboard various aircraft parked at the airport described sounds of loud blasts and general terror as the long gunfight continued. The airport was closed after the incident, though the prime minister has given directions for it to be reopened as quickly as possible.
Clearly, for the government, signs of normalcy are important in any country. But things are not normal. We are engaged in a bitter war, with the Taliban claiming the assault on the airport was intended as revenge for air strikes in tribal areas. The war in these remote parts of the country, when it comes into our cities, seems to engulf us all. It is no longer a remote event from which we are largely detached. The Taliban have also warned there will be more such attacks. This is hardly a comforting idea. Lahore and Islamabad airports are already on high alert as are other sensitive installations in the country. It is obvious from this point on the peace process is over. It had never really begun in the first place.
A meeting of the National Security Council, chaired by the prime minister, is due to take place within days. It is obviously very badly needed. We have a situation of chaos once again. The Karachi Airport attack is no minor incident. It highlights the worst sort of intelligence failure on the part of the state and reveals that the militants are able to reach our most carefully guarded centres at will and destroy what lies within them. For how long can we rely on luck? How many lives can we continue to sacrifice to terrorists? In this case, it is thought they may have had logistical support from areas in Karachi to carry out this operation, notwithstanding the claim of senior security officials that the attacker were ‘Uzbek’.
Essentially, the black network of terror has spread out across our country. We seem to have found no way to grasp a strand which can help us disentangle it and free people from the menacing web that enwraps them. It has been noted that the audacious airport attack targeted essentially civilians, though the bulk of those who lost their lives were members of the security forces. The war is at our door. The question now is how effectively we can fight back and what tools we can use for this purpose.
Yes our security set-up needs to work better. Yes, our personnel on the ground probably need better training. But, it is also worth noting they fought back bravely against the terrorists who invaded the airport in the dark of the night, giving up their own lives to save others. What more can be expected of them? We must also go further and address the roots of terrorism by offering to people the development and opportunities they so badly need to escape the trap that attracts the militants and makes attacks such as this possible.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 10th, 2014.
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@Zia: The entire world knows that it.........
Really?Go ask the entire world,and you will find the answer.Even you in your heart of hearts don't believe what you say!!
@Alann: We also want that India was a country in AFRICA far away from Pakistan. You fools...better live with reality.
Sometimes I wish Pakistan was a European country! (and far away from India. We don't need this much NUCLEAR terrorism at our doorsteps.)
A majority of Pakistanis secretly desire a religious take over of their state. Taliban like militant entities are not patriotic and they care less about the country as they are afterall longing for a after-life paradise and normal people are just tools for their selfish desire. They are addicted to blood, flesh and extreme violence and they will aim for the total control of the population. Religious state is workable if Pakistan has some revevenue source, but remember Pakistan doens't have oil. These blood drinking illiterates cannot run a modern country. Imagine a terror free Pakistan in future. With right kind of economic policies in place, foreign investment will pour into Pakistan and Pakistan can employ millions in the tourism industry. GDP of Pakistan will quadraple in 20 years. Pakistan is still not a failed state yet.
@It's (still) Economy Stupid: Don't you jump too much. We know who is behind these. We just need to redirect them and the you will boil in India. The entire world knows that it was your government which carried out Mumbai Attacks, which you blamed on Pakistan with your sponsored Geo News. If in doubt go on youtube and watch video of that Ajmal Kasab asking for forgiveness from Bhagwan whcich a muslim would never do. India has so many faultlines, which Pakistan may exploit but we are not doing at the moment. Let the Americans leave Afghanistan and we will Insha Allah throw you out of Afghanistan. This TTP will die soon. Be careful then....
just the game of Dollars...
Agree, we need to "address roots of terrorism" to stop the suffering it brings to all those affected. I doubt it will happen as long as the country keeps honoring terrorists such as Mumtaz Qadri (even a mosque is named after him); victims are often considered guilty, none of the political parties condemns such acts; force is not an answer (and has never worked in FATA). The interior minister does not offer to resign nor does the Director of ISI (if it were Korea or Japan they would committed suicide by now). In short, the country lacks governance. Hardly any perpetrator of violence is brought to justice. With daily occurrence of violence, sectarian or otherwise one would expect Pakistan had the best response mechanisms in place.
@Saeed: The fact that you see Taliban as a representative of Islam is scary. Your enemy #1 for Islam is Taliban. Hopefully people of your kind are miniscule in numbers.
@Omar Ali Khan: I think you are being naive. Terrorists have to be treated like terrorists. Worse you cannot treat them as strategic assets. You have to relentlessly go after their infrastructure. You need to stop their mass congregations. Their leaders have to be tried and put in jail. Cleanse places of worship from these elements. Do not differentiate terrorists as good and bad. These are some fundamental steps any nations that cares about it's people would do. Unfortunately Pakistan is still in deep slumber and refuse to acknowledge the ugly mess it is in.
@Omar Ali Khan Quite right my friend. There nothing to gained by attacking Taliban. This will strengthen the enemies of Islam. We need to listen them patiently. We have to hear their voice and we must not be arrogant. There must be give and take from all sides. Eventually there will be peace
There are good terrorists that you can control. It is good to have someone like Hafeez Saeed carry out exactly the same kind of attacks elsewhere. One can win a war of 'thousand cuts'. One can maintain a 'plausible' deniability (even if no one finds the denial plausible).
With above kind of formulations, is it any wonder Pakistan Army (which has never won anything that it fought) has lost its plot completely? High time Pakistani civilians forget about their other priorities and figure a way to control the Army. All of Pakistan's problem aise out of there.
Whilst I agree that "development and opportunities" in FATA -- and, more generally, in KP, Balochistan, south Punjab and regional Sindh -- are "badly" needed and could go a long way towards eliminating militancy in Pakistan, it seems unreasonable to expect either to happen in the absence of peace.
Perhaps I'm being naive, but it seems to me that there is no military solution to the "Taliban problem". If there were, the Americans probably would've found one. Maybe it's time for us to focus our political and military resources on containment and gradual "conversion", rather than "operations" and "counter operations". I know "peace deals" with the Taliban haven't worked in the past, but I think we can learn from our mistakes and ensure a better deal this time.
A good man once said, "The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral; returning violence with violence only multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars". I find myself pondering these words a lot lately.
Crocodile tears. Save this editorial you may need for cut and paste for future events. Karachi attack is nothing but cost of doing business factored in by the policy makers. When a country accepts 1.5 billion dollars to supply fighters for Syria, India and rest of the world and invests in infrastructure of terror net work and uses non state actors as an extension of policy, people with bounty on their head hold political rally than live with it. When it happens in Mumbai and people are caught, you do not have enough evidence to prosecute or will to move trial at regular speed. Your political and religious ministers help such groups, it is part and fabric of society. live with it.
Just when nation had started to think that the counter terrorism strategy is bringing positive results, this latest attack has put the strategy into question. But we have witnessed more audacious attacks in the past. Terrorists have been able to identify weak targets efficiently. Therefore, need of the hour is to secure all important places, identify the attackers, take important leads to reach the planners, understand the big picture, reply to the terrorists more forcefully, do genuine effort to rid Karachi of terrorists, use all tools of the state, stop blaming outsiders and fill the loopholes in own systems and urgently build consensus on what to do about FATA.
No one can protect fully against committed criminals willing to blow themselves up. This has happened after a long break which means that the terrorists are running out of steam and have dwindling support. There were many more attacks when Musharraf was in power. There will continue to be more attacks but they serve no strategic purpose since the whole country hates these cowards. Yes there can be stricter security but in the overall picture, no terrorist was able to get to the planes and they were all neutralized in short order. The same happens in the Western countries when there is some madman running amok. Pakistan should honor the brave defenders who gave their lives and redouble efforts to deport foreigners and others who have no place in the country. The US and Western countries should help the nation deport those fighters who are a left over from the Soviet War days who have now gone rogue. The main issue is for the nation to remain together and not let these foreign funded cowards and agents have any satisfaction from terrorizing an airport. Normalcy and life should carry on and the nation should have even greater resolve now to defeat the cowards who commit such horrible acts. I am happy to see so many patriotic messages on web sites after this attack which will only work to strengthen the Pakistani nation.