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Naval chief’s resignation demanded

June 01, 2011

THE attack on PNS Mehran demands corrective measures and the first step needed is the resignation or sacking of the naval chief for not having the courage to admit to the nation that it was a security lapse.

If the naval chief is unable to understand that he has lost the trust of the nation, then the prime minister needs to use his authority. I spent a day listening to Pakistanis here in London who are astonished that the prime minister has asked the same individual to investigate the incident whose institution failed to secure the base.

And lest I be accused of being unpatriotic, I am doing the opposite. I love my country and I want what is best for it. I know that the armed forces of my country have given great sacrifices in the past few years, fighting the terrorists and we have lost thousands of army and paramilitary personnel as well as policemen.

But sometimes such measures need to be taken for the sake of an institution and the nation. People from different countries studying here keep asking me how terrorists reached such an important navy installation. They wonder whether the terrorist had help from insiders or our armed forces are not capable of defending their own installations.

The demand for the resignation of the naval chief is important because it is related to holding the armed forces of the country accountable for their actions to the citizens of Pakistan and to its Constitution. If the current chief is sent home, his successor will know that he has to perform and deliver. This is a much-needed first step towards some real change.

WAQAS AHMED KHAN London

Working together

A LOT is being written and reported on the Mehran airbase attack. Squadron Leader Ausaf Husain in his letter ‘Securing military installations’ (May 30) says: “To generate revenue, spare land inside the cantonment is being sold to civilians, ignoring the security aspect.”

He further says: “During social and cultural activities inside the cantonment and base areas .…. civilians from adjacent localities are allowed so that sale of tickets is increased, ignoring security threat.”

First, it was ‘bloody civilians’ and now these remarks. This shows how civilians are viewed in contempt by people in uniform.

To the best of my knowledge, the land in cantonment areas is for official purpose only. Offices, training establishments and living quarters for people employed on a base are not for converting into colonies, educational institutions and cultural centres.

Security is not a job only for people in uniform. It is a specialised job. Trained civilians can handle it as efficiently as men in uniform. Why are there doubts about the patriotism of civilians? A person who has retired from armed forces is just as good as a civilian.

What is needed is fingerprint check of anyone and everyone entering a sensitive area, irrespective of his rank. If the base commander himself follows such practice, it would go a long way in checking security lapses. Special identification cards with sensors should be issued to the people working on the bases.

Official cars, as well as private vehicles, should have sensors so that the first check can be made at the entrance to a base. The gates should not be manually operated, rather they should be programmed with an identification device attached to a car to allow entry.

Companies providing car tracking facility can provide better information. CCTV cameras should be installed, covering the entire base area. The boundary wall should have sensors to detect any intrusion. No person should be allowed to use or carry a cellphone. Just as the fighting force requires modern arms, security has to be on modern lines. Deploying armed guards in battle dress at the entrance is not enough.

The best thing would be to introduce conscription in our country. Let the civilians and men in uniform work together for the safety of our motherland. Everyone in uniform and without uniform in the country is contributing to the country. The least one can do is accept that there has been a lapse instead of finding lame excuses.

M.K. SUFI Member, Islamabad Citizens Committee Islamabad

Heroes must be honoured

I HAVE a question in my mind which I would like to ask our president. I am very eager to know how long it takes to honour a hero. Lt Yasir Abbas, the son of this nation, embraced martyrdom on May 22 to save his motherland.

Undoubtedly, the young man is the Rashid Minhas of this century. Why is the government taking so long to award him? This lethargy is discouraging for the youngsters, especially for those who have the courage to give their lives. I believe that it is the duty of every citizen of Paksitan to be grateful to our hero for his sacrifice.

It is my request to the president to recognise the bravery of Lt Yasir and award him with the deserving honour of Nishan-i-Haider. May the soul of our hero rest in peace.

SANAA AZIZ SHEIKH Lahore