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Insecure despite the alert

Updated August 12, 2013

ISLAMABAD, Aug 11: The suicide attack on a mosque on Eid day in the capital has brought to fore not only the methodical planning by the attackers but also the lack of acumen on the part of the security establishment in dealing with terrorists.

In the incident, a suicide bomber shot dead a security guard of Masjid-i-Ali when he tried to stop him. He was, however, killed by other guards.

“Incidentally, this is strange that the terrorists were in Bhara Kahu but Rangers and police kept combing Margallas and the Islamabad airport before Eid,” said Allama Amin Shaheedi, deputy secretary general, Majlis Wahdat Muslimeen.

Mr Shaheedi, a resident of Bhara Kahu, was not in the area for four to five days after he came to know that some terrorists had reached Bhara Kahu.

“I came back to my house the night before Eid,” the Allama added.

The most serious part of the story is that the police had no tip or clue of any threat in the area.Like the previous sectarian-based suicide attacks at Shia activities in Rawalpindi and Islamabad, which were at a majlis in Shakrial, (2011), Muharram procession in Dhoke Syedan (2012), Bhara Kahu area too does not fall in sensitive category.

Therefore, only one constable used to be deployed outside the mosque at the prayers time, and as usual he left soon after the bulk of ‘namazis’ had left the mosque by 1:50pm. There were some 30 persons left inside, who were the office-bearers of mosque management committee, prayer leaders and some elders of the area.

“Even before the constable had reached his police station the terrorist attacked the mosque, which means that he was waiting for the cop to leave the spot,” said Sibti Shah, a local politician and younger brother of Chairman Senate Nayyar Hussain Bukhari.

He said that the situation clearly showed that some locals had facilitated the attack, but the authorities had failed to do anything.

“Traditionally, there has never been any issue between the people of various schools of thought. But the problems cropped up after the so-called Qaris and Maulvis from other parts of the country settled here,” he said.

“These people have no respect for the traditions of the society or their norm; they only create tension,” he added.However, without naming anybody he pointed out that one could see flags of banned sectarian parties atop hoardings and electricity poles, but the authorities are not doing anything.

Responding to the accusations a local police officer said that there were issues to ensure foolproof security.

“First of all police stations have limited resources including manpower,” the police officer said requesting anonymity.

He even termed the intelligence gathering mechanism flawed, saying the the terrorists floated false information to deceive the security agencies.

“Whenever, we get information of a threat at one place, the security is beefed up there, exposing soft targets, which are the actual targets and not the ones received at intelligence tip,” he added.

Similar approach was adopted in the Dhoke Syedan and Shakrial incidents, the police officer maintained.

A police officer in Rawalpindi acknowledged that the operatives and facilitators of the suicide attackers lived in the locality that had been attacked.

He added that any action against them was difficult due to a number of reasons including lack of political will and most of the time they got off scot-free through the judicial system.

Former president of administration committee of the mosque Jabir Hussain Shah while talking to Dawn said on Friday the suicide bomber came to the mosque twice to check the situation due to which we had doubt that he might come again, so we were ready.

“We have come to know that suicide attacker was living in the area for last the three days and a local resident of the area provided him protection and place to hide,” he said.

“Police have now beefed up security of Masjid-i-Ali which should have been done earlier. There is a threat to the mosque Khateeb Syed Hasnain Abbas Gardezi as Tehreek-i- Taliban Pakistan (TTP) through a letter had informed him that he was on its hit list,” he said.

According to hospital sources, bullet fired by the suicide bomber fractured the arm of one of the injured Haq Nawaz and the bullet was still in his arm which would be removed after three months. The other two Amin Hussain Sherazi and Syed Bilal were, however, out of danger.

Bhara Kahu SHO Fayyaz Ranjha while talking to Dawn claimed that investigations were in progress and they were closing on the culprits.