Terrorist Attack on Pak air base

By K.N. Pandita

Tehrik-e-Taliban-e-Pakistan (TTP) suicide-bomber attack on Pakistan Air Force base in Kamra in Attock district is the third attack of the organization on Pakistan’s armed forces. Thus the bases of all the three services, army, navy and air force have been attacked in the past. Even on Kamra base itself, this is the third or fourth attempt since 2007. The base is being targeted for maintaining nuclear war heads, reportedly at least one hundred of them. Though shrouded in secrecy, the US has, more than once, cautioned Islamabad about a possible attempt by the home-bred terrorists to capture some of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons.  

Whatever may be the nature of exchange of views on this subject between Islamabad and Washington, for public consumption the former more than once told its civil society that the nuclear renal was safe and secure. Nevertheless, the suicide bomber attack on Kamra air base came two days after the US Defence Secretary Panetta warned that Pakistani terrorists could launch an attack on her nuclear base. The Express Tribune newspaper had reported on August 11 that the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan could target PAF facilities in Punjab before Eid-ul-Fitr. Intelligence agencies of Pakistan are investigating the entire incident including most likely subterfuge within the PAF. Investigation of Mehran airport attack in Baluchistan was not made public then though news trickled down that inside activists linked to that were patronized by the fundamentalists. The presumption is that in Pakistan there is a force within a force and the two are covertly locked in a grim war of nerves. Without logistical support from insiders, it would have been tricky for the TTP to know where Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal remains stockpiled.

Relevant as background to Kamra suicide bombing is the Independence Day speech of Pakistani Army Chief Kayani. “The war against terrorism and extremism is the entire nation’s war and can only be won if the nation stands united behind the army to win it, failing which it will be faced with civil war”, is what he said. Which “nation” does Kayani mean? Afghan Taliban are the creation of Pakistan. Even today, powerful groups of Afghan Taliban pitted against the US-NATO forces in Afghanistan, the likes of Haqqani and Hekmatyar, are the beneficiaries of ISI.  Pakistani fundamentalist-terrorist outfits like LeT, JM, LJ and others are ISI’s blue-eyed boys. They are all integral to Kayani’s “nation”.  Kayani should tell his countrymen against whom are these people fighting? They are fighting against the segment of civil society (call it nation) of Pakistan that demands dismantling terror structure within the country; that demands subjecting Pakistan Army to the elected civilian authority; that demands diversion of major portion of Pakistan’s national budget from military built up to investment in social and public reconstruction like education, health, power, agriculture, investment and good governance, and that demands reversal of anti-India policy for the sake of survival of Pakistan itself.  If General Kayani can bring about a paradigm shift in Pakistan’s philosophy of a “moderate Islamic State” in accordance with the much prostituted speech of Mr. Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, then he has a “nation” to be concerned about.  Reaction of terrorists in Pakistan is commensurate with the level of intensity of shrill notes emanating from both the civilian and the military organizations. The terrorists are decisively coming closer to the capture of the prized booty called Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal.

The dreadful Frankenstein raised by Pakistan’s anti-India ideologues in the Army and he civilian structure have to realize that their days of rejoicing over the suicide bombers creating havoc in Indian cities especially in Jammu and Kashmir are over. Terror has boomeranged on them. For long did they mislead their “nation” by bringing the onus of all anti-social and anti-national incidents within Pakistan to the doorsteps of India. They carved the “Indian jinni” with exceptional skill and innovation oblivious of the consequences it was bound to bring in train. Most of what Pakistan is facing today is the result of her Indi-oriented animus with Kashmir show-casing. Kashmir they will not get and Pakistan they may not be able to retain in one piece, as has been warned by General Kayani. He believes the “country is passing through a critical phase” in which the biggest threats are “religious intolerance, political turmoil and anarchy… In this situation all our efforts should be directed at improving and correcting our internal situation”. The question is how is Pakistan going to deal with nearly a quarter million big and small religious seminaries where hate-India is the first and the last lesson imparted to the students? Religious intolerance to which the General refers breeds in these seminaries and is patronized by a full generation of Pakistanis brought up in an environment of rabid religious zeal. How is political turmoil to calm down when country is actually run not by the elected civilian government but by a feudal-military combine with deeply vested interests?

Contemporary Pakistan situation is an eye-opener to India as well. We, too, are in a critical situation in regard to our domestic affairs. The nature of our problems may be different, but apparently our ruling political arrangement should come out of ostrich-like delusion. We are also on the brink though the hope of retrieval is not dead.  A word to the wise is enough.

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