By K.N. Pandita
I am disposed to believe that our policy planners, intelligence sources, and anti-terrorism mandarins will have taken due cognizance of the nature and possible reach-out of 29th July bizarre jailbreak in Dera Ismail Khan to the south of Southern Waziristan in Pakistan.
A major and highly successful act of terrorism on a land, which, by all evidence at our disposal, is the cradle of contemporary terrorism, should not go unnoticed by our policy planners because our country is very much on the radar of these terrorist groups.
Analysis of this event takes us first to the brain behind the plan. About 150 well-armed jihadis, drawn from Al Qaida and TTP including their affiliates undertook the mission. Adnan Rasheed, a native of Swat in Khyber Pukhtunkhwa, and a recruit of Pakistan Air Force, had been arrested in December 2003 for alleged attempt on the life of General Musharraf. He was running the errand on the instance of one Abu’l Faraj Libi, an Al-Qaeda leader in Pakistan. Adnan was put in various jails, lastly in Bannu from where he escaped in the course of jailbreak. He made contacts not only with local but also with foreign Al-Qaida militants, like the German jihadists Abu Ibrahim al Almani (aka Yasin Chouka) and Russian jihadist Abdul Hakeem.
Together, they announced formation of Ansaaru’l-Aseer, the special unit tasked to free militant prisoners from jails. It is this group that launched attack on DI Khan jail and freed 248 comrades, out of them 48 were high profile commanders of TTP and Lashkar-i-Jhangvi.
Conspirators of DI Khan jail attack took three months to finalize their plan code named marg-i-najat. Planning and execution of the attack cost ten million rupees. With money coming from Saudi Arabia, and the attackers originating from South Waziristan, TTP fighters disguised themselves in the uniform of Pakistani police. Their contingent included 8 special commandos who were equipped with sophisticated weaponry and latest night vision gadgets. Brandishing their arms, the brigade rode openly in 13 vehicles using two ways to reach the jail. Entire journey from the point of origin to the premises of the jail was of over a hundred miles. This entire length is dotted with numerous check posts, but at no place were the jihadi lashkars stopped or asked to reveal their identity. Was this a coincidence or a meticulously drawn plan with the connivance of military, police and civil authorities of Pakistan?
At Dera Ismail Khan, and close to the premises of the targeted jail, the jihadis detonated dozens of explosives that blew up several transformers and threw a blanket of darkness over the entire area. After entering the jail with considerable ease, they asked the guards to lay down their arms, which the letter did instantly. Then they called out the names of wanted prisoners who belonged to prominent terrorist outfits of Pakistan. Most of them had been arrested for involvement in bombing and killing of Shias in Pakistan.
This entire operation was completed in two hours and forty minutes, after which the freed prisoners and the assailants all left the scene but did not forget planting IED behind them on the road so that they were not pursued and caught.
The interesting thing is how political parties adopted conflicting approaches to the incident. Pervez Khattak, the chief minister of Khyber Pukhtunkhwa called it intelligence failure while intelligence authorities repudiated his assertion by stating that three clear and unambiguous warning notes had been sent to the provincial government about impending Taliban attack.
Imran Khan whose TIP has the majority in the provincial government brought the blame to the doorsteps of the army saying it has put a whole division in the province and that is an irritant to the local people. But IGP of DI Khan borrowed cricket game terminology and said,” Our batting failed against Taliban bowling”.
DI Khan prison is located close to the garrison headquarter in the town. Firing continued till past midnight on 29th July but not a single soldier made any movement in the garrison headquarter. The soldiers slept a sound sleep while a high drama was being enacted within the jail itself. There was no sign of Rapid Development Force, which Pak government had been eulogizing profusely.
The incident laid bare the role of Taliban sympathizers within the bowels of the organs of the state and society. Core prison staff melted away as the TTP attack on the jail progressed. A commentator put it cryptically as “Society is Wahhabized with the help of Saudi money or Bushed by US imperialism in last two decades”.
Wahhabi sentiment has infiltrated deep into Pakistani defence forces. The would-be assassin of General Musharraf had the support of PAF; Taliban who had launched an attack on GHQ or on Naval HQ enjoyed support from inside. The lashkars, apart from their assignments within the country, have also been earmarked as integral component of Pakistan army’s Kashmir operations plan.
In Pakistan, no one is prepared to fight the Taliban. Army Chief Kayani says that “they feel existential threat from them”. General Shuja Pasha says that Pakistan is a failing state on account of them. (TTP). These are antics aimed at rationalizing the Wahhabization of Pakistan army.
These narratives of TTP, its local as well as foreign connections, all indirectly pose a serious challenge to our sovereignty and territorial integrity. It is a challenge to our freedom of developing in a way we consider best for our country.
Intensified border intrusions and violation of cease fire agreement between India and Pakistan along LoC in J&K are closely linked to the DI Khan jailbreak. Our police stations, BSF camps and army concentration sites have been targeted in the past. Administrative and police structure have been infiltrated. Kishtwar incident bears marks of LeT and TTP components’ subversive strategy.
DI Khan episode reveals how ‘subversion within’ can wreck havoc in the State. I, as a citizen of this country and state, would like the policy planners tell us that our government is conscious of the designs of our enemies and the methodology they have adopted to balkanize India. Before we arraign our guns against any mainstream political party or group, we need to take cognizance of bigger and more powerful guns already aimed at our national sovereignty and territorial integrity.