Saturday, August 18, 2012

Kamra attack and the nuclear arsenals

“Gunmen who are believed to be Islamist militants attacked a major Pakistani Air Force base where some of the country’s nuclear weapons are thought to be stored early Thursday (August 16), setting off a heavy battle in which eight attackers and one security official were killed.

The attack on the Minhas air force base in Kamra, 40 kilometers, or 25 miles, northwest of the capital, Islamabad, was a stark reminder of the threat to Pakistan’s most sensitive installations despite ongoing military operations against militants in their tribal hide-outs.”

So, the story goes on in the local Pakistan edition of The International Herald Tribune of August 17, 2012.

Yesternight, Kamran Khan, talk show host at Geo News, enumerated about 150 militants attack on military installations and personnel, and estimated that Pakistan Military has suffered losses in these attacks and its fight against the militants it did not suffer in all its wars with India.

Local media reports Thehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan has already accepted the responsibility for the Kamra attack in which one AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control System) aircraft has also been damaged.

In fact, there have been such attacks on many important installations of Pakistan Army including its General Head Quarters (GHQ). 

Let’s do not mention last year’s May 2 episode in which US Seals killed Osaman bin Laden in Abbottabad. But what about the May 22 PNS Mehran attack by the same militants!


That agitates concerns about the safety of nuclear arsenals . . . and that was why Foreign Office spokesman had to immediately make a statement that ‘all is in the safe hands.’

That means it requires patient diagnosis and merciless surgery, and of course, before all that a serious review of the War Strategy against the militants!

The following piece was written in the same spirit after the PNS Mehran attack:

Where is the broken backbone, Sir?

It was on April 23 that the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, the most powerful man in Pakistan, while addressing the passing out parade ceremony of the 123rd Long Course, Integrated Course 42 and Lady Cadet Course 8 at the Pakistan Military Academy (PMA) Kakul, Abbottabad, declared: ‘the security forces have broken the backbone of the terrorists and the nation will soon prevail over this menace.’ He also reiterated: ‘the Pakistan Army is fully aware of internal and external threats to the country and will come up to the expectations of the nation.’

Exactly on the 9th day of his speech, during the night of May 2 and 3, the US Seals raided a house in the same Abbottabad, not far away from the Kakul Academy, and killed Osama Bin Laden, the most wanted man in the world. Again exactly on the 30th day of his speech, just 6 (as yet no one knows the exact number) terrorists entered the PNS Mehran in Karachi, managed collectively by Pakistan Navy and Pakistan Air Force, and held sort of hostage the whole base as well as the whole nation.

Throughout this fight that continued through the next 17 or so hours no one from the military establishment or the government was available to tell the citizens what was happening. Mr. Asif Ali Zardari, the Supreme Commander, the President of Pakistan, the Master Politician of the country, too was nowhere on the scene to be seen. Mr. Ahmad Mukhtar, the poor Defense Minister, may have made an appearance after a considerable period of time, and he did make, but his comments meant nothing. The ever active ISPR that never lets go any opportunity to know its Position on the issues of importance, such as the ‘Kerry-Lugar Bill,’ was maybe fast asleep.

It’s no use counting the number of terrorist attacks against the Army, ISI, Police, FIA, etc, but one needs reminding the attack on the GHQ of Pakistan’s Security Forces. That would have been treated as the last symbolic blow and proved to be an eye-opener, but did not. All in all, there were countless attacks on civilian targets that killed considerable number of innocent men, women and children and caused damage of millions of rupees to the private property. Nothing seemed to move anything in the power corridors of Pakistan. Obviously, no change effected in the security establishment’s overt policies as the previously made arrangements still seem in tact. Its on-board groups and lashkars continue enjoying the blanket protection against the rule of law. That’s what we see, Sir, with our own eyes and through the eyes of print and electronic media, and whatever is available on the world-wide-web!

Sir, when Osama Bin Laden was killed under the nose of a premier training institution of Pakistan Military, I did not want Pakistani forces under your command (Iqbal’s Mamula) to set fighting against the US forces (Shahbaz) as most nationalists urged, but I do have a right to know how the most sought for criminal was living there for the last 5 years safe and sound! Sir, incompetence is forgivable, complicity should not be! Sir, so often I read about the Deep State, about the Strategic Depth, and such things, I do have a right to know how and why so much time is spared to delve into such matters which according to the Constitution of the country its Parliament is entrusted with! Sir, on record you said, you are India-centric, I do have a right to know how and why such a statement makes its impact on the foreign policy of Pakistan the making of which according to the Constitution of Pakistan is the prerogative of its Parliament!

Sir, when you became the COAS, you were known to be moving the Army back to the barracks, and the media tried to make us believe that, then there was March 16 and hearsay still give credit to you for starting the process of restoring the judges deposed by your erstwhile boss, then there were wikileaks which leaked your political likes and dislikes, how come you did not stick to your own policy of keeping away from the affairs of the civil administration! Sir, Pakistan Army has a constitutional mandate and they are bound to obey the orders of the Supreme Commander and the Chief Executive of the country, and it is Pakistan Army’s constitutional duty to safeguard the geographical boundaries of the country as and when required by the civilian authorities, how and why this mandate was / is overruled and covert and overt wars declared on its own!

Sir, now it’s an open secret that the security forces of Pakistan are too busy in running various businesses which include real estate, bakeries, banking, logistics, construction, agricultural, wedding and consumer goods services, how and why such engagements find their way into the barracks and cantonments if not at the expense of professionalism of an army!

Sir, through media I am told that an Orion aircraft costs more than 3 billion rupees, and two such aircrafts were completely destroyed at the Mehran base by a handful of terrorists, how and why this billions of rupees’ loss was incurred to the poor citizens of this country, and whether the responsibility will ever be fixed for such flagrant lapse and costs recovered!

Sir, about half of the taxes the citizens of this country pay this or that way go to your huge security establishment and instead of protecting life and property of the citizens of this country from the outside aggressors, this establishment has become a burden on their stomach and well-being, and instead has created new enemies both inside and outside the borders of the country, and that for the sake of its own survival, how and why such a policy could augur well for the citizens of this country! Sir, would you mind conceiving a smart army that is light and professional and capable of following the orders of the civilian leadership!

Sir, at this moment as because of such happenings morale of an ordinary army man as well as an ordinary citizen is at its lowest, you on behalf of your institution ought to come forward, apologize to the nation for overstepping the constitutional mandate, for letting your intelligence agencies going beyond their legal domains, for interfering in the civilian affairs, un-constitutionally taking in your hands making of the defense and foreign policy, for creating and nurturing illegal groups of fighters as is alleged, for engaging in uncalled for commercial activities, and not giving due attention to the professional duties!

Sir, that is what will break the backbone of the terrorists, not your words!

Pakistan Observer published this piece on June 20, 2011.

And, Pakistan Today published it in its letters to the editor on June 21, 2011.

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