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Airbase attack

Published Aug 17, 2012 02:07am


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THE attack on the air force base in Kamra has raised disturbing — and disturbingly familiar — questions. That only one security personnel was killed as opposed to nine dead militants is only a small consolation: the first and foremost question is, how were militants able to yet again infiltrate a high-security armed services’ base and engage security forces inside for many hours? Given that some kind of military operation in North Waziristan against at least the Pakistan-centric militants is in the offing, the possibility of pre-emptive strikes by the militants is high. Had the warning of a blowback only been made at the policy level without it filtering down to the security forces likely to be in the cross-hairs of the militants? Already, the very specific threat against PAF bases in Punjab by the TTP in revenge for the killing of a militant leader earlier this month had been picked up by the intelligence apparatus. Surely, then, at this stage of the fight against militancy, the security apparatus should be able to repulse attacks on at least critical sites with more efficiency, particularly with both the circumstantial and direct forewarning appearing to have been available.

As with previous attacks, the possibility of insider help to the militants in the assault on Kamra is also very high. From sympathisers of radical Islamist thought to direct supporters of militant groups, the army appears to have a militancy problem, the severity of which is hidden from the public because investigations and court martials are often carried out in secret. The wider concern going forward ought to have the army’s screening procedures: how robust and effective is the surveillance and vetting of the armed forces’ personnel to prevent an incident before it happens? Clearly, as recent history suggests, not robust or effective enough — but what will it take for a more serious and sustained effort? Finally, the question that has bedevilled the fight against militancy: when will the state, both the army and the political government, drive home the message to the Pakistani public that the war is real, it is against a radicalised fringe of Pakistan and that unless the war is fought with total commitment and purpose, the state and society itself will spiral towards irreversible disaster? Gen Kayani’s Independence Day message contained the first strands of that message but it has to be sustained and spread to the farthest corners of the country. The ones shouting ‘this isn’t our war’ — many on the political right — need to be countered, firmly and unequivocally. Delay that battle any longer and the already manifold complications will grow yet more complicated.

Comments (36) Closed

beavis rules Aug 17, 2012 04:39pm
couldnt agree more
Openmind Aug 17, 2012 05:14pm
Who is looting NATO trucks? Why only Pakistan's enemies succeed? Is rational thinking still alive?
ilas Aug 17, 2012 10:16am
Because the President, Pm and his governament due to corruption has brought the country to its kness. That is why the Army Chief said what he had to.
Essjay Aug 17, 2012 10:58am
Anyone else wondering where is Difa-e-Pakistan and the Ghairat Brigade? Why do they hide when the militants attack Pakistan, and appear full volume when the Drones strike??
imran Aug 17, 2012 04:54pm
Army top brass needs to do some serious soul searching and the answers are not hard to come by, if USA can sustain bases inside Afghanistan and Iraq for years we can surely do better on our home ground. Set your priorities right, spend only a meager portion on where it is needed, PLEASE FORTIFY THESE PERIMETERS PLEASE, lone soldiers on watch towers miles apart can in no way ward off determined terrorist. Only fools will let it happen again and this has already happened thrice!!
ilas Aug 17, 2012 10:18am
The answer is that we should make Zardari the Chief Of the Army aswell. Then we wont have anymore problems.
Malak Ghulam Aug 17, 2012 04:52pm
The MEDIA should Keep The Heat on so that we can get a Good Complete Set of Lessons Learnt from this incident. Because we have certainly not learnt our lessons from the Past Incidents. This is very important.
raju Aug 17, 2012 03:11pm
No matter how active the cops are, theifs are one step ahead, considering this, the army has done a good job in repulsing the terrorists. and taking into account the theory of inside help it gives upper hand to the plotters and attackers.
omar Aug 17, 2012 03:04pm
Pakistan is in such a situation due to people like you; who have poor mentality. Army has ruled pakistan for major part of 65years, the result is in front of everyone to see.
Mohammad Syed Husain Aug 17, 2012 02:37pm
"How were militants able to yet again infiltrate a high-security armed services’ base and engage security forces inside for many hours?"
Badar Aug 17, 2012 02:25pm
You may not know. But America is too involved in Paksitan's affairs. What planet you live in?
Badar Aug 17, 2012 02:23pm
What are you talking about? Army Chief sent no independence day message. Why DAWN published such a comment by an Indian?
yawar Aug 17, 2012 11:43am
How sad and disturbing,when the whole sub continent is moving forward towards economic and political progress, pakistan seems to be moving in exactly the opposite direction.what kind of people are the pakistanis? a society too obsessed with america and its policies it does not look pakistan is going to survive for a long time as a nation.
Iftikhar Husain Aug 17, 2012 11:32am
It has been correctly pointed out in the editorial that the whole nation has toget up and fight this menace Which Islam these terrorists are defending they must be eliminated totally.
Taaruf Aug 17, 2012 08:06am
Sounds very simle and crystal clear that poor strategy and non seriousness to make them (soldiers) an easy prey of terrorist groups. Nonethless, it is laudable and appreciatable that this times soldiers have taken proactive actions against them timely. My codolences are due to deceased one.
Eddied Aug 17, 2012 01:18pm
This editorial is spot on...when Pakistanis recognize that the enemy is internal and suicide militants coming from extremist Madrassas must be stopped then they will begin to see peace...unfortunately I see that other irresponsible media in Pakistan are already trying to blame outsiders with the usual conspiracy theories...thank god for professional media like Dawn to tell the truth...
dr abdul malik Aug 17, 2012 02:52am
The problem of Pakistani armed forces is very simple: they do not seem to learn.
Shankar Aug 17, 2012 04:58am
Good show by the Pakistani military in repulsing the attack! Wish Pksitan all success in its fight against terror!
Jaihoon Aug 17, 2012 05:32am
Pakistan's very survival entails indiscriminate and decisive action against terrorists whether they are Pakistani or Afghan militants playing havoc with both countries.
Soomro Aug 17, 2012 06:37am
Pakistani army muct be the most inefficient army in the world! The same pattern is repeated everytime. Warning received and the army sleeping as if all is well with the world. If the Pakistani army cannot defend its own bases, even the GHQ< what can the country expect from them. It hurts when you see so much resources wasted on the army when Pakistani children go uneducated - and the result is this?
ashish Aug 17, 2012 07:02am
my condolence to the soldier ....
Saeed Aug 17, 2012 07:06am
All praise for our brave soldiers. These terrorists must be given a bloody fatal blow so that they dare not raise their hand against our country. At the same time all those who support them overtly or covertly must also be dealt with, and these include our politicians in power and in the opposition. The buck stops with the president and he and his party must be held accountable.
Balu Aug 17, 2012 07:25am
What else can one expect. You reap what you sow. You sowed terrorism and reaped terrorists. High time to understand that there is nothing called 'Good' Terrorist and 'Bad' Terrorist. And all type of terrorism should be combated and done away with at the very roots.
anil Aug 17, 2012 07:50am
why an army general sends a independence day message in a civilian minister and elected president could do that job better....
M. Asghar Aug 17, 2012 08:42am
It must be correct that there is something wrong in the army's chain of command that allows such damaging terrorist activity.
Mustafa Razavi Aug 17, 2012 09:18am
PAF security personnel deserve our praise and recognition. Stopping a lunatic who is hell bent on suicide is no small task, these are the people who brought two super powers to grief within a span of two decades.
Badar Aug 17, 2012 09:42am
Though this editorial raised some good questions, the attack is not just done by some religious militants. Thats a very wrong assumption. Pakistan is under attack by her enemies who want to weaken her. These enemiy states are using these so called militants (or terrorists). Why India has an active relationship with TTP. Kamra, and Karach Naval base, terrorists were very well trained commandos with state of the art American and European weapons only available to NATO/ISAF forces. Who provided them these expensive and forbidden weapons? Pakistani media, including DAWN, have a responsibility to develop such awareness.
G.a Aug 17, 2012 06:23pm
The army chief was addressing military cadets at a military academy where the media was present. The President and PM had their own addresses to the nation with the sole purpose of addressing the nation.
Ali Aug 17, 2012 06:25pm
Badar, it does not help to blame others, why can't we focus on fixing the problem from our end....isn't that all we can and should do? Let's do what we can instead of complaining and in the process forgetting that change will only come from our actions.
Cyrus Howell Aug 17, 2012 06:54pm
I don't want to tell you the real truth. It would be hard to hear.
Cyrus Howell Aug 17, 2012 06:55pm
Tell Mister Smiley that he needs a New Get Tough Policy.
Cyrus Howell Aug 17, 2012 07:02pm
Well, if they were in the drug smuggling business with the Afghan Warlords and Taliban, then they would not want to kill the Afghans who are putting money in their pockets. Let's assume however that all the Pakistani generals are honest, patriot and loyal. Even if it were true, what could people do about it? "Wake up" "The barbarians are at the gates." "Schhhuuu. open sesame. open sesame."
Vikram Aug 17, 2012 08:29pm
So you are suggesting that your Army Chief (Gen Kayani) is an "Indian" ??? Wow! Now this is really getting interesting!! Wonder what the "ghairat brigade" will make of this allegation!
Indian Aug 17, 2012 09:32pm
Please do not blame the Army, they did an excellent job killing the terrorists, if some one willing to die there is nothing to stop them, There is no 100% security for a huge facility. This can happen anywhere in the world.
Saad Aug 17, 2012 09:54pm
No the problem is actually with people like you Omar. The CoAS gave his address at a venue where he is suppose to give such address i.e. Pakistan Military Academy. That Anil cannot understand this (or probably understands is but chooses to ignore it to stir confusion in the minds of simpletons like yourself) is the problem.
Walyati worried Aug 17, 2012 10:09pm
It must be worrying. A nation which cannot secure its arms or bases is not a good thing. These terrorists are able to gain access as and when they want. What if these crazy extremists manage to get hold of high explosive devices or a nuke or two. Pakistan ministers should be held to account as here in Europe Pakistan seems like a failed state. Pakistan Defence forces need to get their house in order or just admit they are not fit for purpose.