Four years, four high-profile attacks

Published Dec 18, 2012 12:29pm

“This was a sequel to Saturday night’s attack on the PAF base,” an official said, while referring to the attack on Peshawar's Bacha Khan International Airport and the PAF base. Over the last four years, there have already been three prequels to this attack and then a Sunday morning sequel.

According to a report detailing the most recent attack, “A security official said bags seized from the van blown up on Saturday contained dates and bottled water, indicating that the militants wanted to occupy the airbase. He said seven bombs in steel containers had also been found. It appeared that the first group was tasked with breaching the western perimeter of the base and engaging security personnel so that a second batch could go in, lay bombs and occupy buildings. Logistics indicate that they had come well prepared to occupy the airbase.”

Why aren’t questions being asked about how the attackers organised their own logistics so thoroughly without interference from authorities? How is it that they came in such close vicinity of a high-profile area in a suspicious looking vehicle in the first place?

Referring to suicide jackets, the bomb disposal chief was quoted as saying, “The six suicide jackets defused after the abortive airbase attack and in Pawaka were not home-made crude suicide vests that we are familiar with. These appeared to be machine-made. They were a work of craftsmanship. This is the first time I have seen such sophisticated jackets.”

The jackets had steel ball-bearings and compressed high-intensity explosives in order to cause more destruction. Where are such ‘sophisticated’ jackets being sourced from and how come no authority has yet taken notice of where they are being made or brought in from? Is this not a cause of alarm that such destructive material is being transported from various unknown areas while innocent citizens are daily being harassed by the police and rangers while traveling within cities, being searched thoroughly just for fitting the profile of a 15-45 year old male?

Lastly, to quote questions from a recently published editorial, “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.”

Do you have information you wish to share with You can email our News Desk to share news tips, reports and general feedback. You can also email the Blog Desk if you have an opinion or narrative to share, or reach out to the Special Projects Desk to send us your Photos, or Videos.

Comments (16) (Closed)

Dec 19, 2012 06:36am
Just wait for the Pakistani spring, this time they are gona take everything while we are busy talk shows, discussing good terrorists and bad terrorits. I think even the military and political leadership has given up, probably they already have plan B ---------leave this place
Melwyn Dcosta
Dec 19, 2012 01:53pm
What we are seeing here is classic case of creating a Frankenstein monster after seeing that the policy of non state workers worked in Afghanistan against Soviets. So Pakistan though hey lets use the same policy on our other neighbors. However the monster has now decided to devour the master itself. Once and if neighbor feeds the Frasnkenstein monster hell bent on eating up its master , its a very grim scenario indeed.
Dec 19, 2012 04:45pm
This undelcared war is nothing to do with non state actors of any type. In fact it seems to be a pre planned master minded consiperacy against Pakistan started from its division in 1971, so that no thinking mind of equality, justice, rule of law as taught and preached in Islamic culture would have any country to flourish and become a hurdle in the way of expensionist or beggar thy neighbour or coloniast ideology. Where rich become richer, and poor become slave.
Dec 19, 2012 01:26pm
sow the wind...reap the whirlwind. Maybe you could ask Hafiz Saeed how to handle this problem !
Agha Ata
Dec 19, 2012 01:31pm
The answer is complicated. Taliban are divided. Some are with the army, some are not. It could also be a hoax trying to give an impression that the army is not in command of Taliban, they act as if saying that we are not running with the hare; we are still hunting with the hounds. Only God knows what they going to gain out of this, ultimately.
Ahmed j
Dec 19, 2012 12:56pm
Uncertainty is the core issue to understand the prevailing security condition. No one is for sure how long and for what duration our security agencies would continue fighting. There is no “Time-Line”. On the understanding of Time-Lines, military plans are made and executed accordingly but in the absence of such a time frame, the physical and mental efficiency of any sane human being would deteriorate. If the establishment (civil & military) had envisaged that such military operations would continue for a longer period of over a decade then they should have invested enormously in human development and material, intelligently. Army, Rangers and the police are still dependent on the age-old practice of Strip & Search. They are not even equipped with smart electronic devices nor have the mental aptitude to use such, even if they are provided with one. They are decades away from such a vision and their officers lack clarity. The senior officers are paid to bring that change, which they have failed. The Peshawar Airport attack is one such example. Half of the city’s roads are restricted and all have number of check posts manned by the Army and Police. These roads are restricted for general public’s use. The Army issues yearly passes for the cantonment roads for residents and daily commuters. To get the pass one has to pass their vetting procedures. If the Army was clear and had known that the security condition would continue for ten long years or even beyond then why don’t they introduce an electronic pass, attached to a vehicle. If NADRA’s RFID e-Toll system could be used on national highways and motorways then why can’t such a technology employed here. This would give Real time control, monitoring and management of all entry exit points by the authority. Every vehicle’s whereabouts, route, time and behaviour could be detected. The owner’s name with address would also come up. This would also make things efficient, avoid long queues and most of all reduce fatigue and stress on a soldier and would make him concentrate on relevant, selective task and target. Instead, the Pakistan Army has locked itself in the barricaded cantonment and has left the lesser Pakistanis to face the terrorists themselves. One still has to see the police modernisation in the last ten years. There are no structural changes to the Police department. The Police Force have not adapted to the new terror conditions. The command system and control apparatus is still old fashioned. There are no high-tech equipment inclusions in the police inventory. Even use of Police canine dogs is a distant dream. Police dog Units are non-existent. Dogs have remarkable sense if trained on explosive detection but such a thought is missing. One has to be creative and has to use the ingenuity of mind. Bannu Jail break is a revelation to understand the real state of affair of Police department even after a decade’s war. On many social media websites, one is astonished to see a mass assembling of an armed force without being identified and challenged. Many high profile terrorists escaped and one could predict their absolute re-emergence. Why not these terrorist were body implanted with electronic tags or chipped if they were so dangerous. Even if they had escaped, each and every individual could have been traced. Their hideouts could have been stalked. There is no intelligent thinking. If able people managed Pakistan then in an over a decade period of unrest, there would have been a network of CCTV monitoring system. That system could also stop other criminal activities. The attack on the airport would have been stopped well before the terrorist were even assembling for their operation. Later the runaway fugitives who took refuge in some under-construction building were tracked, traced and identified by locals. This was the job of a dedicated surveillance system aided by CCTV network and not by a member of the public. A proactive retaliation was needed rather than a reaction after coming under attack. Whenever there is a perceived act of terrorism, mobile phones service is taken off air. Not realising that the same technology can be used to track the perpetrator. However, clear advantageous tool that could be utilised for owns benefit is marginalised in favour of the terrorist. In the past after several attacks, the conclusion drawn by the authorities was to ban the sale of military non-lethal equipment, available in the market. Not realising that few individuals whose number did not exceed more than 10 men carried these attacks. Anyone can procure a uniform in any size and colour as long as we have tailors in this world. This example mentioned is only to understand the mind of Pakistani policy makers and serious conclusions they make. Again, one must comment that Police and the Army are ages away from intelligent, intelligence awareness and the officer cadre lacks such vision. This is the reason, that Terrorists are steps ahead of the law enforcing agencies. The wide professional efficiency gap has to be reduced. It is the mind to accept a modern efficient change first followed by state of the art gadgets.
Karachi Wala
Dec 18, 2012 08:28pm
The answer is simple. The enemy is within!
Karachi Wala
Dec 19, 2012 01:47pm
And which Party is that?
Cyrus Howell
Dec 19, 2012 04:01pm
[The terrorist] "He is an unknown quantity, an anonymous individual." Von Clauswitz
Dec 19, 2012 04:01pm
The problem with this beleaguered country is that its schizophrenic people forget about the lesser evils when they consider something as bigger evil. They blame their politicians whom they would elect time and again for their gruesome corruption. In the meantime, they tend to let go of their judiciary's selective justice and, moreover to their corrupt military and intelligent agencies' shameful acts of divide and rule. As long as Pakistan stands divided on ethnic, sectarian and regional basis, terrorism and extremism will continue to haunt the country. Let their be impartial justice, rule law, and open-to-world-view. Press upon your military and intelligence agencies to abandon their sympathies with terrorists; only to be used as strategic asset. Last but not the least, so called vibrant media should stop indirectly glorifying extremist ideologies. They have a wider role to play. Rest assured blind patriotism will lead you nowhere near sanity.
Cyrus Howell
Dec 19, 2012 03:58pm
Well, they know what time the ISI eat their lunch and when they go to bed at night. This is all spy-counter spy territory for both sides including private security companies..
Farooq Ali
Dec 19, 2012 10:18am
The basic question to be investigated by us is , Who is financing all this menace we must know that suicide jackets car bombs, and other devices are very expensive plus the money paid to mercenaries so called terrorist runs in millions, and without huge finance it is not possible, when a part of leg does not move the doctor corrects the far located brain so it is here block the money channel convert black economy into white make transactions documented put an intelligence net work on money movement the problem can be solved .
Dec 19, 2012 11:53am
Failures of our government, security agencies including much hyped and prized ISI. Our Nation has lost trust and confidence in our leaders; In fact majority of our people won't even care if any foreign power takes over Pakistan.A nation repeatedly let down by politcians, generals, Pirs, Sardars, Choudharies, Waderas, Mullahs etc. etc. Most of ruling elite have already amassed enough fortunes to settle abroad and they will abandon Pakistan at first sign of trouble. There is only one party that I believe can rescue us from our misery. This party and it's leader has not yet been corrupted.
Dec 19, 2012 12:21pm
Why aren’t questions being asked about how the attackers organized their own logistics so thoroughly without interference from authorities. Because their intelligence gathering is better than our agencies including ISI
Cyrus Howell
Dec 19, 2012 04:09pm
Blame the angels, blame the fates, Blame the Jews, or your sister Kate Teach your children who to hate And the big wheel turn around and around Little wheel spin and spin Big wheel turn around and around
Dec 21, 2012 02:19am
"Four years, four high profile attacks" -- we are asking the same question -- what have you done about gun control in four years Mr. Obama?