The terrorist attack on Karachi Naval Dockyard should have been a wake up call about the continuing threat of jihadi militant groups throughout the country despite targeted anti-militant operations in one region. Actually, it should have been another wake up call. Latest statements from the military and ‘security analysts’, however, are trying to lull the public back to sleep.
A new report from Reuters has identified the so-called ‘master mind’ behind the attack as Owais Jakhrani, the 25 years sub-lieutenant who was fired during his training period possibly for his interest in extremist views. The attack raised serious questions about the ability of extremist groups to infiltrate our national security services, with important discussions finally beginning in the media who noted that operations like Zarb-e-Azb “will in all probability fail” unless the root cause of extremist ideology is eliminated.
Once that discussion began to appear in the international media, however, the door was slammed shut on critical reflection and introspection. Today, new reports quote military spokesmen as categorically denying that extremist infiltration could ever take place and downplaying the attack as if it were a child’s prank.
“The Reuters story is not based on facts,” he said. “All the facts will be ascertained once the inquiry is finalised.” Most Pakistani military officials deny infiltration is a significant problem.
This response is bad for national security, but it is bad for the military itself also. Even though the military’s instinct is to go on the defensive and deny any possibility of problems, the facts are too obviously otherwise. Owais Jakhrani may not be another Brig Ali, but if we bury our heads in the sand, how will we ever know if he carried out his plot with the help of some other Brig Ali, or even how many Brig Alis have gone undetected.
Trying to sweep the Karachi Naval Dockyard attack under the rug is a mistake. It will not make the problem disappear, and soon the rug will be so overcrowded that all the problems will come spilling out anyway.