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Pakistani security members and onlookers gather near a hole in the wall, caused by a militant attack, close to the runway of the international airport in Peshawar on December 16, 2012. - Photo by AFP
Pakistani security members and onlookers gather near a hole in the wall, caused by a militant attack, close to the runway of the international airport in Peshawar on December 16, 2012. - Photo by AFP

PESHAWAR: The Bacha Khan International Airport is the most vulnerable strategic airport in the country because its airfield is jointly used by the Civil Aviation Authority  and the Pakistan Air Force.

Saturday night’s attack on the airport and the PAF base, the headquarters of the Northern Air Command, was on the pattern of last year’s Mehran naval base attack in Karachi. It has exposed weaknesses of security measures because there were intelligence reports about a possible attack in the area.

Established in 1927, this strategically important airfield is at present being used for both civilian and military purposes. The airfield has been used by the PAF as well as the Army Aviation during military operations, especially during the ongoing conflict in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, including Bara tehsil of Khyber Agency.

Security experts believe that law enforcement agencies should have adopted foolproof security measures to avert such an attack because these facts have made the airport vulnerable to militant strikes.

On Nov 20, police arrested a teenaged would-be suicide bomber, along with an alleged handler. During initial interrogation they claimed that their target was the airport.

The PAF base, situated on the eastern side of the airport, stretches towards its western boundary from where the attack took place. Installations of the Air Force are also located there.

A railway track passes through the airfield and in the past trains bound for Khyber Agency would pass through it.

About two years ago, security forces had barricaded all roads leading to the entrance of the airport and airbase for civilians and at present only a single road emerging from the Mall Road is being used for civilian traffic. Even on that road a security checkpoint has been operational and vehicles are not allowed to cross without search.

Eastern and southern sides of the airport are situated in the cantonment area whereas the western and northern sides are outside it. The university road passes through the northern side of the runway and on the southern side Bara Road is situated. Another road passes along the western boundary of the airport, which connects Bara Road to several villages and finally to an upscale University Town residential locality.

The western side of the airport and PAF base, from where the attack was carried out, is more vulnerable as a road passes by outer boundary walls and several villages are situated on its other side.

This portion mostly remains deserted and there is very little traffic on that road during the night.

The airport is used by the Pakistan International Airlines as well as several other domestic and international airlines.

According to the CAA, the runway is 9,000 feet long and 150 feet wide.

Comments (16) Closed

Irfan Baloch Dec 17, 2012 05:26pm
problem is with the mindset my dear the terrorists will be only defeated the day people will stop supporting these terrorists & stop giving them refuge in their homes army cant just open fire on the civilians when these terrorists find help in people like yourself
Ekone Dec 17, 2012 08:47am
Target is whole pakistan, we can run but cant hide, long live pakistan
Kam Khan Dec 18, 2012 11:37am
yeah they can start by closing down all the surrounding roads and making security check posts around the whole city. Better still, depopulate the city or rather whole NWFP sorry Pukhtun Khwar.Kidnap and interrogate all abled bodied men, and then dump them in body bags around the country side.
aaif Dec 17, 2012 07:18am
very good work by security agencies, it should be appriciated
ali_ali Dec 18, 2012 07:20pm
you are really brave !!!!
kamran khan Dec 17, 2012 09:49am
yet another pathetic performance by our army , securtiy agencies and securtiy apparatus
Khan Dec 18, 2012 04:29pm
"Even on that road a security checkpoint has been operational and vehicles are not allowed to cross without search." Please tell us who gave you this precious information. There are Army checkpoints on the University Road near Gora Kabristan where they just look at all vehicles and then wave at them to go ahead .. the second one that you talk about is on Mall road near FG college, last time I went there the an Army guard asked me to show CNIC, afterwards I asked him, How can checking CNIC help you in security, he replied "Humein pata chal jata hay" .. I asked if that was the case there would have been peace every where" He gave me a smile and waved to move on. The bottom line is we are lazy unprofessional bunch of nation .. In an ideal world, We should have closed the Western Border sending back all refugees ... Cleaned up our NWA and surrounding areas from all foreigners & those who are anti state, develop large mosques with government provision and monitor them, remove the smaller ones from every street then, throw away all sympathizers behind the bars, Install CCTVs on all major highways and place a population awareness and different education systems.
kashraf Dec 18, 2012 01:46am
I can understand that there is a lot of anger against Taliban but we will have to come to the negotiating table with them to find a solution. We need a comprehensive and holistic approach including dialogue, development and targeted military action.
Ali Dec 17, 2012 09:25pm
Kamran the country needs you, please join the security forces. I am not sure why you think it was pathetic?
suresh shenoy Dec 18, 2012 05:52am
Did u had some premonition last night that this insane violence will end after a generation. About Imran Khan does he have a magic wand to clear the mess Suresh - Bombay
Khan Dec 18, 2012 04:33pm
You cannot change mindset unless you stop differentiating between these anti state element .. We are soft for their sympathizers and have soft corner for those who attack another country ...that mindset you talk about is there because we have allowed their sympathizers to create conspiracy theories .. Army can be decisive in this .. if they're unwilling to control our Western border then we can't do any thing.
Capt C M Khan Dec 18, 2012 10:15am
We have to go and hunt them down in there areas otherwise the whole of Pakistan is a SITTING DUCK, We have to contol our JEHADDI MUDARASSES who are providing shelter, food and intelegence to these foreign beasts.
akhter husain Dec 18, 2012 03:30pm
Those who carried out this attack are not terrorists but rebels and aggressors and therefore they may be treated as such.The punishment for these people,according to Islamic Law,is that one hand and one foot is cut off.Negotiating with rebels is nothing but surrender.
Agha Ata Dec 16, 2012 02:51pm
I hope this article would help security forces to plan security for this vulnerable spot. :)
aliya Dec 17, 2012 11:43am
The answer is simple...coz our country is run by a group of jokers and people are dying everyday in these attacks and we still want to negotiate with Taliban.
imran Dec 16, 2012 07:16pm
I think we will have to deal with this insane violence for atleast a generation. Maybe Imran Khan might better deal with it if and when he come's to power. What a mess.