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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Karachi Naval Dockyard and Punjabi Taliban

Punjabi Taliban chief Ismatullah Muawiya

Two very troubling facts have come out of the recent terrorist attack against Karachi Naval Dockyard. The first, obviously, is that our own military officers helped carry out the attack. As has been noted, this is unfortunately not new, rather it is merely the latest in a string of incidents in which terrorists have had inside help from our own security forces.

The second troubling fact is related to the first, I believe, and that is this important sentence in a report on the arrest of the military officers involved in the attack:

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

Since long, our military has invested in an Afghan strategy that helped build up the strength of the Taliban. This may have been seen as a policy of ‘strategic depth’, or it may have been seen as aiding a legitimate insurgency against a foreign occupier, or it may have been justified as both. The end result, however, is that whether or not Pakistan has ‘strategic depth’ in Afghanistan, extremist militants do.

News that a faction of Punjabi Taliban have declared a halt to armed struggle in Pakistan has been received as if it were a sign that anti-militant operations have been a success, but militants in Punjab were never targeted in these operations. Actually, it should be noted that Punjabi Taliban even said they are halting operations against Pakistan to focus on Afghanistan. In other words, they are not done fighting, they are simply making a strategic change. We get a reprieve, but it will most likely be temporary.

One newspaper declared on Sunday that ‘Zarb-e-azb will in all probability fail’ because we have failed to eliminate the root cause of extremism. The continued involvement of military personnel in terrorist attacks against our own security forces is a grave warning that the Punjabi Taliban and other militants are shifting away from attacks against Pakistan not because they believe the are losing, but because they believe they have already won.

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.