ANOTHER military airbase attacked; another full set of lessons that perhaps will not be learned. Since the attack on the Mehran airbase in Karachi, the militants have demonstrated a sophisticated understanding of both the psychology and methodology of high-profile attacks. Targeting an airbase in even a semi-successful attack captures public attention in a way that a highly successful attack against other military targets would not. And while the security forces appear to be protecting vulnerabilities at airbases better than was the case before the Mehran attack, the militants are also adapting. They appear to be probing for weaknesses by deploying new combinations of fidayeen and suicide attackers, and still have fairly good intelligence on their targets. Why this is so is a question that the public has not received an answer to. So the focus must necessarily turn to more transparency and accountability within the security and intelligence apparatus.

Every new high-profile attack is a reminder of how little is known publicly about the investigations into previous such attacks. Was physical security as rigorous as it could be? Was the vetting of security personnel posted at these installations thorough? Were maps and schematics and other information protected adequately? And after weaknesses were exposed, how effective was the response of the security apparatus to ensure a repeat would be difficult? Clearly, as the attack on a foreign airbase in southern Afghanistan proved, the militants can exploit weaknesses in defences in even the most hostile environment. But in the absence of transparent and public investigations and accountability, we can’t be certain that negligence, incompetence or complicity in the security apparatus here is being identified and punished as thoroughly as it should.

Then there is the broader question that always comes up in these moments. Peshawar is adjacent to the tribal areas and as such will always remain more vulnerable than most Pakistani cities unless a coherent policy for eliminating militancy is developed. But despite having tens of thousands of troops stationed in Fata and launching a series of military operations that have recovered swathes of territory that had virtually been ceded to the militants, the absence of a zero-tolerance policy towards militancy has made it difficult to win this war. Apologists for the Taliban, who refuse to see that the militants’ war is against Pakistan and its people, have stood in the way of a unified stance. North Waziristan, and also the Tirah valley, remains a fundamental threat to security in Pakistan. Yet it is still not clear how the army-led security establishment intends to defang that threat. Paralysis and policy drift will only enable the militants to push harder to find even more weaknesses.

Updated Dec 17, 2012 12:10am

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Comments (7) (Closed)


Circumbulator
Dec 17, 2012 10:58am
Problem is that no serious effort has been made either politically, diplomatically or militarily to solve the issue . This regimes prevarication verges on the criminal. ” So, in the Libyan fable it is told that once an eagle, stricken with a dart, said, when he saw the fashion of the shaft, “With our own feathers, and not by others’ hands are we now smitten.”
kashif
Dec 17, 2012 06:38am
Anybody can still attack on Mehran Airbase or anywhere else....Pakistani forces are way too casual to secure there assets.....attackers whoever they are, are too good by all means....remember the attack on Jail where numbers of prisons just walked out at large.....all Pakistani security forces are outdated
aliya
Dec 17, 2012 05:39pm
Now people started teasing that is there any day without a blast in our country? what is government and security forces doing?
Ajaya K Dutt
Dec 18, 2012 03:43am
Why do not people say it openly who this third party is? So it is not Taliban but a third party. What makes me wonder is what makes some blind to obvious.
Mohsin Iqbal
Dec 18, 2012 06:24am
Militant's attacks on the army my be the perpetuate of the countries involved in war on terror to perk up Pakistan emotions and create logic for attacking rebellion groups present in the territory.
Naseer
Dec 18, 2012 04:20pm
Another question to ask is why this extremist organisation is against human rights. Why do they favor a particular brand of Islam. Why extremists belong only to one particular school of thought. Who is funding them?
Nisha Rai
Dec 17, 2012 12:12pm
The key questions to ask are why are the militants targeting the army? Who will benefit from such an attack? Who is funding the militants? Could it be that there is a third party that controls the events? Answers to these questions are necessary for the survival of your country. India having suffered at the hands of terrorists acting in the name of Islam, my guess is that the third party wants both India and Pakistan to suffer. The people of the Indian subcontinent are mere pawns in a bigger game. .