Another wake-up call?

PAF Minhas airbase at Kamra, one of Pakistan’s most important military airbases, was attacked by terrorists around 2am yesterday. After almost five hours of fierce fighting, the military commandos were able to kill all nine terrorists. One Pakistani soldier was martyred and many others injured. It is beyond comprehension how these terrorists – armed with suicide vests, grenades and automatic weapons were able to enter a high security zone with such ease despite intelligence reports suggesting that the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) was planning an attack on s PAF base before Eid. According to a report published in The Express Tribune on August 10: “TTP is planning attacks on the Pakistan Air Force Base and other military and security establishments in Lahore before Eid…Another [report] stated that a team[…]was also planning terrorist attacks towards the end of Ramzan. Their main target was likely to be the PAF base, or other security establishments like the offices of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Military Intelligence (MI), Intelligence Bureau or Counter Terrorism Department.” As expected, TTP claimed responsibility for the Kamra attack.

This attack was similar to the one on PNS Mehran last year in May. To see minute by minute coverage on live television of an audacious attack plays havoc with one’s emotions. It makes you wonder why the state of Pakistan spends billions of rupees on the defence budget when it is unable to stop terrorists from attacking its security forces at will. Ours is a country where terrorists and murderers roam free but innocents fear for their lives. This is the result of our military’s skewed “national security” policies, in which terrorists have been nurtured for “strategic” purposes for decades. Now the chickens are coming home to roost. Has the military learned anything from its mistakes? We can never tell. In his Independence Day speech, General Kayani at least admitted that the war on terror is our own. He said, “The war against extremism and terrorism is our own war, and a just war too. Any misgivings in this regard can divide us internally, leading to a civil war situation…The war against extremism and terrorism is not only the army’s war, but that of the whole nation. We as a nation must stand united against this threat.” If we as a nation are to stand united against terrorism, we must stop blaming the ubiquitous “foreign hand” after every terror attack. Minutes after the Kamra operation ended, we heard the usual spin masters on our TV media claiming that the terrorists were “non-Pakistanis”. When will we realise that these terrorists are not “outsiders” as our conspiracy theorists often claim them to be? Misleading the public will not get us anywhere. It will only lead to further chaos.

Every terrorist attack in Pakistan is a wake-up call for its leaders – both civil and military – and for the Pakistani nation. How many more wake-up calls will it take for our leaders and nation to realise that we are responsible for the mess we are in today? It is shameful that our minorities are forced to seek asylum in other countries while no action is taken against the leaders of banned terrorist organisations. Let’s stop pretending. It is time to take action. The military, being the most powerful institution of the state, should take the first step.

(Originally published in Mid-Day)


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