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Four years, four high-profile attacks

Published Dec 18, 2012 12:29pm

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“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.”