Naval Dockyard attack being swept under the rug

Navy

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.

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Saving Our National Pride: We Must Remove Extremists From The Ranks

Pakistan Army

In 2011, terrorists attacked PNS Mehran with help from inside the military. In 2012, terrorists carried out a brazen operation that freed nearly 400 prisoners from Bannu jail. The militant commander who planned the attack said it was a success thanks to inside help. Later that same year, Brig Ali Khan and four other Army officers were convicted over links to extremist groups. And now, terrorists have attacked Karachi Naval Dockyard, again with inside help. These are only a few examples, but they are more than enough to point to a pattern, and more insidiously, a serious national security crisis.

Since long, Army spokesman and their surrogates have rejected concerns about extremist infiltration in the military as something that cannot happen due to the strict policies and procedures for identifying such risks. But there is no explanation for how the world’s most wanted terrorist Osama bin Laden was able to live and run his operation in the shadow of PMA Kakul. If it is not possible for terrorists and their sympathisers to infiltrate the military, how is it that the terrorists continue to carry out attacks with inside help?

Army is our national pride. When something is said that seems to cast that pride in a light, our natural response is to immediately reject it. This is natural, but it is not healthy, nor is it helpful. If a doctor discovers a cancer in someone we love, we do not call them liar and demand that such is impossible. Rather we come to accept the painful reality and do the needful which is to have the cancer removed so that the patient may be saved.

We love our Army. Let’s save it before it’s too late.

UPDATE: NAVY OFFICIALS ARRESTED IN CONNECTION WITH TERRORIST ATTACK

A security official, who requested anonymity, told Dawn.com that acting on intelligence reports, security forces conducted raids in the outskirts of Quetta and picked up three suspects.

“The suspects are Navy officials,” he added, giving no details about their ranks.

They were shifted to Karachi on a plane from Quetta for further interrogation.

The suspects were trying to escape to Afghanistan, when they were intercepted by security forces.

The real covert war against Pakistan

The real covert war against Pakistan

Parliament is about to begin debating new terms for cooperation with America in the war on terrorism, but this is issue is anything but new. Actually, it seems like everyone has an opinion on whether and how we should engage with the Americans – from the Difa-e-Pakistan chants of “Go America Go” to the reasoned calls for parliamentarians to “put interests ahead of emotions” and everything in between. But while everyone is focused on what new ‘red lines’ will define new talks with America, we may be ignoring a covert war against Pakistan happening right under our noses.

Claims that hidden hands are waging a cover war against Pakistan are nothing new. Opinion-makers writing in major newspapers and appearing on TV talk shows have been telling about this conspiracy for years. Recently, a retired military officer (naturally) wrote a typical piece in The Nation that describes the common narrative.

Ever since the US/Isaf forces ousted the pro-Pakistan Taliban government from Afghanistan, and the pro-Indian Northern Alliance dominated the government, India’s notorious intelligence agency, the RAW, has become fully entrenched in the war-torn country. Backed by the Afghan Intelligence Agency and allegedly supported by the Mossad, CIA and others, it is aiding and abetting insurgency in Balochistan, FATA and our urban centres. Their common goal seems to be to internally destabilise Pakistan to its ultimate disintegration.

Claims of a Mossad-RAW-CIA-KHAD nexus bent on disintegrating Pakistan have reliably served certain sections of society for decades. Actually, this story is so old that one can’t help but wonder if we really have anything to worry about since these powerful agencies can’t manage to get the job done.

But the fact is that we do have something to worry about because there really is a covert war against Pakistan. Only it’s not being carried out by a secret Mossad-RAW-CIA-KHAD conspiracy.

Taking place right now is a field general court martial of Brigadier Ali Khan who is accused of conspiring to topple the government, trying to instigate a mutiny within the army and planning an attack on the GHQ. These are serious charges of treason against the state. And Brig Ali was not some lone wolf who hatched a crazy scheme on his own – the allegations against him involve ties to the group Hizb-ut-Tahrir, an international group dedicated to the overthrow of sovereign governments to form a new Khalifat.

Islamabad posterHizb-ut-Tahrir, though banned in Pakistan, is openly recruiting and plotting against the state. Recently, 21 activists were taken into custody from a meeting in Islamabad. According to Brigadier Amir Riaz, head of 111 Brigade, Hizb-ut-Tahrir “has prepared a new constitution and a shadow government for Pakistan and that the group was ready to take over anytime”.

Most people shrug off this sort of news saying that such groups are such a small minority that they pose no real threat. But what about when the Jamaat-e-Islami chief himself terms Osama bin Laden as ‘the greatest martyr’ and officials democratically elected by the people of Pakistan as ‘beasts’? Besides, small groups can have an outsized effect, as Jamaat-e-Islami has proven time and again when they take to the streets since they can’t win at the ballot box. And while Hizb-ut-Tahrir might insist that they are a “peaceful” group (though this raises the question why they are so intent on recruiting in the military), others make no attempt to hide their aims.

Last week, security forces in Bajaur Agency seized heavy weapons worth millions of rupees from secret hideouts of terrorists. People will again shrug off this news by claiming that these weapons are for killing Americans in Afghanistan, not Pakistanis. This, of course, ignores the obvious problem of where these heavily armed militants will turn once the Americans leave – a change that is getting closer every day.

It also ignores the open threats made by militant groups against Pakistan. The Jamaat-e-Islami chief is not the only extremist who sees the terrorist Osama bin Laden as a hero, and Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan openly threatened attacks against the state if bin Laden’s widows are not released from Pakistani custody.

“If the family of Osama bin Laden is not released as soon as possible, we will attack the judges, the lawyers and the security officials involved in their trial,” Ehsanullah Ehsan of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) told Reuters.

“We will carry out suicide bombings against security forces and the government across the country.”

The Difa-e-Pakistan has threatened force against the state also, threatening to “hold a siege of Parliament House” if the democratically-elected government re-opens NATO supply routes. And once again, familiar faces are making the threats.

Difa-e-Pakistan

The sit-in was addressed by Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) Ameer Syed Munawwar Hassan, JUI-S chief Maulana Samiul Haq, former ISI DG Lt Gen (R) Hamid Gul, former minister Ijazul Haq, JI secretary general Liaquat Baloch and Hafiz Abdul Rehman Makki of Jamaatud Daawa (JuD).

All of this is news that should shock the public, but instead it passes almost unnoticed. You don’t have to believe in hidden hands and secret global conspiracies to make sense of this news. It’s all quite plainly laid out before us. There are militant groups who want to overthrow the government of Pakistan because the majority of people do not accept their worldview. These are the millions of Pakistanis who do not believe Osama bin Laden is “the greatest martyr” and do not support suicide bombings. They are the millions of Pakistanis who believe that the civilised people don’t threaten a siege of parliament if they don’t get their way, they contest elections and try to convince their fellow citizens with reason, not threats.

This is the tragic irony of our times. Newspapers, TV talk shows and street gossip is filled with chatter about a covert war being carried out with the aim of destabilising and ultimately disintegrating Pakistan. But we have become so fixated on fantastic tales of external enemies and their invisible foreign hands that we have failed to notice the real threat, and so we are paralysed to do anything about it.

Parliament will debate new terms of engagement with America, the judiciary will continue chasing memos and BBMs, and retired officers will continue weaving thrilling tales of international intrigue and selling them to media more concerned with ratings than facts. Meanwhile, forces are amassing against Pakistan not in US think tanks, but in dhabas and on verandas in our own cities and villages. Will we wake up in time to avert this tragedy and recognise the real enemy among us?