Tag Archives: lapse

Drigh Road or Shara-e-Faisal? – Dr Mohammad Taqi

The secular leaders have abdicated all foreign and security policy-related matters pertaining to the establishment but WikiLeaks suggest that privately they keep venting their spleen to the US diplomats about it

“I keep six honest serving-men,

(They taught me all I knew);

Their names are What and Why and When,

And How and Where and Who” — Rudyard Kipling.

Another week, another tragedy: the series of unfortunate events has no end. But each catastrophe, no matter how enormous, is matched with a conspiracy theory of even bigger proportions. The predilection for gossip and intrigue to explain away the existential threats has morphed from a national pastime to the national creed. The fear of mirrors appears to have robbed this nation of the last vestiges of objectivity.

But first things first: no matter how spectacular the attack on the Pakistan Naval Station (PNS) Mehran, far greater remains the sacrifice of the men of Pakistan’s armed forces who laid down their lives in the line of duty. Lieutenant Yasir Abbas and his comrades, martyred while wrestling back the control of PNS Mehran, deserve a collective bow from this nation. May their souls rest in peace.

It would have been highly desirable if the top civil and military leaders had deemed it their responsibility to attend the funeral of these heroes, for boosting the rapidly plummeting morale, if not to send a message to the terrorists. In a country where vicious killers like Mumtaz Qadri are garlanded for the most heinous acts, such omissions are literally a dereliction of duty on the part of the civil and military leadership. For our part, we can only offer our deepest condolences to the bereaved families to whom we shall remain ever indebted.

The leadership’s ambivalence points towards our real dilemma. While the killers and their supporters are absolutely clear about their objectives and how to achieve them, the state seems to be clueless and rudderless. From an absolute denial to dodging accountability, those at the helm come up with the lamest possible excuses: foreign hand a la American-Indo-Zionist agents unleashing a reign of terror on one of the oldest military establishments of the subcontinent. Is it possible? Well, theoretically it is. But if such is the case then perhaps someone needs to turn in a cap, pips, baton and a belt.

However, even if the blame for a security lapse or breach is affixed justly and all questions are answered appropriately, it may only satisfy the what, when, where, who and how of the event. A military investigation would likely focus on the methods and weaponry used by the attackers and the response of the security agencies. From a tactical perspective this could certainly be very helpful in hardening and thus safeguarding any potential targets. But from a strategic standpoint, unless one seeks an answer to the why, all inquiries, no matter how impartial, will remain meaningless and lead to dead ends. The domestic, regional and international implications of any such attack are myriad and it is imperative that lessons are drawn, and swiftly at that. But it would be impossible to formulate a response without clearly identifying the enemy and determining its motive. And that is where it becomes tricky.

India or the US may be looking at the PNS Mehran attack with glee but there is absolutely nothing strategic that they gain from two P-3C Orion aircraft being destroyed. The psychological impact of audacious attacks on iconic targets is a tactic in asymmetrical — not conventional — warfare. The al Qaeda-Taliban have announced not only their viability through this attack but it perhaps marks the arrival of Saif-al-Adel, who had masterminded a similar attack in Riyadh, as al Qaeda’s new leader. And nothing induces recruitment of cadres than a high profile retribution for bin Laden’s killing.

Pakistani right-wing politicians like Imran Khan and Munawar Hassan would have one believe that everything was hunky-dory in Pakistan till the big bad US rolled into Afghanistan in 2001. They would go blue in the face talking about the dollars that bankrolled the anti-Soviet mujahideen. But they conveniently gloss over the fact that Saudi Arabia matched the US dollar-for-dollar to help Pakistan create the jihadist monster. That great patron of jihadist pan-Islamism, General Ziaul Haq, consummated the tying of the knot with the Saudis by rechristening many cities and places in Pakistan. The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) base Drigh Road thus became the PAF base Shara-e-Faisal in 1977. (Arabic word ‘Shara’ and not the Persian ‘Shahrah’, was used for the road). The PNS Mehran is an extension of that same PAF base Drigh Road.

However, this is not just where the selective amnesia ends. These ultranationalists and their cohorts in the media, who are projecting them 24/7 into our living rooms, take great pains to avoid pointing a finger towards the jihadists, especially the ones who are predominantly India-oriented. Parallels are being drawn between the PNS Mehran attack and the one on the GHQ in 2009, which is a partial truth. The first such attack that had showed a high level of strategic vision through an erudite choice of high profile target and deployment of sophisticated tactics was on the Red Fort, Delhi, on December 22, 2000, carried out by the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LeT). Subsequent attacks, including on the Indian parliament, Mumbai, Sri Lankan cricket team, Manawan Police Academy, the Pakistani GHQ and several in Afghanistan have the fingerprints of the assorted jihadist franchises affiliated with al Qaeda.

But people like Imran Khan who leads sit-ins attended by members of banned terrorist outfits, whose lieutenants are seen literally holding hands with Hafiz Saeed of Jamat-ud-Dawa (JuD), and who makes it a point to visit every major madrassa from where the jihadist leadership has graduated, can hardly be blamed for protecting their ilk. These obscurantists will continue to weave webs of lies and deceit that perpetuate not just the confusion in the general public’s mind but make an already perfidious enemy even more nebulous.

While the pro-Taliban leaders led by Imran Khan have been steadily building a neo-jihadist narrative, the secular leadership has been missing in action. The secular leaders have abdicated all foreign and security policy-related matters pertaining to the establishment ….

Read more : Daily Times

Pakistan’s Military Faces New Questions After Raid

By SALMAN MASOOD

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Battered by the fallout of the American raid that killed Osama bin Laden, Pakistan’s army and navy chiefs came under fire again from analysts and raucous political talk shows for lapses in security that allowed militants to storm Karachi’s naval base, leading to a 16-hour standoff that ended Monday.

Journalists and retired service members repeatedly questioned how the militants could have breached the security of the naval base. The Navy chief, Admiral Nauman Bashir, was particularly pilloried for denying there was any security lapse when he spoke to journalists in Karachi after the attack.

The frenzied questioning on all of Pakistan’s news channels was an indication of the shock that the attack on Karachi’s naval base has caused around the country, still reeling from the scandal of the killing of Bin Laden on May 2, and the questions it further raises about the ability of Pakistan’s military establishment to safeguard its vital assets and nuclear installations.

The Pakistani military has come under unusual criticism for allowing Bin Laden to live for five years near the top military academy in Abbottabad, a small city about 70 miles from the capital, Islamabad, and the latest attack was seen as yet more proof of the parlous state of Pakistan’s armed forces.

“The repeated failure of the Pakistani security forces to preempt terrorist activity has demoralized not only the Pakistani soldiers, sailors, and airmen, but has also severely dented the reputation of the three services in the eyes of the people they are expected to defend” wrote Javed Husain, a security analyst on the website of DAWN daily newspaper. “Worse still, the servicemen and the people have begun to see the terrorists as ten feet tall.”

The attack would have serious repercussions not only for the military but also for the security and unity of the country, Arif Nizami, editor of Pakistan Today, a Lahore based daily, warned on another show. The Pakistan Navy was a relatively weak flank and could be easily targeted, he said.

Hamid Mir, the influential host of Capital Talk on GEO TV, even dared criticize the military for its handling of previous attacks by militants. The attack in Karachi was similar in scale and seriousness to the 2009 storming by militants on the army general headquarters in Rawalpindi, and could have been avoided if there had been a public enquiry into the earlier attack, he said.

Mr. Mir said he feared an inquiry could be initiated against him or anyone else who raised this question. He has long advocated that Pakistan should not side with the United States, but he has also denounced the Taliban.

The attack in Karachi comes as the Chief of the Army Staff, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, has been indicating in private meetings with senior editors and defense analysts over recent days that he wanted to improve morale and dispel the impression of incompetence of the armed forces by redoubling efforts against terrorism and insurgency.

Reflecting the overriding concern the Pakistan military has about its nuclear weapons program, General Kayani repeatedly emphasized that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons were safe from any attack or foreign intervention, according to one analyst who was present at one of the meetings.

The general added that Senator John Kerry gave him assurances during his visit to Pakistan last week that the United States is not interested in seizing Pakistan’s nuclear weapon. Senator Kerry told him he was ready to write down with his own blood that America was not interested in Pakistan’s nuclear weapons, he said.

In an indication of the divide in Pakistani society, commentators differed in their reactions to the 16-hour battle, with some urging political and military leaders to come together on a united counterterrorism policy to combat militancy, while others repeated familiar anti-American, anti-Indian theories, calling for a change in foreign policy and relations with the United States as the way to end the violence.

The conflicting narratives were evident in a talk show on DUNYA TV Monday afternoon with the hosts repeating conspiracy theories but some of their guests speaking more plainly.

Much of the reaction to the attack on its southern port, Karachi, also revealed Pakistan’s deep seated insecurity and sense of vulnerability regarding its longtime rival, India.

“This is a security failure,” Shehzad Chaudhry, a retired air vice marshal, said on the show. The need of the hour was to focus on the security forces and their capability, instead of focusing on the question that who could possibly be behind those Taliban, who are attacking Pakistani military, he said. “There is a need to develop national counterterrorism policy and bring our own house in order first.”

Talat Masood, a retired Lt. Gen and defense analyst, said on the same show: “We should not go into self denial. This insurgency is against you. They want to destabilize the state of Pakistan.”

Yet many commentators remain reluctant to criticize the powerful military establishment in Pakistan and tend to fall back on repeating conspiracies that the world is out to destabilize Pakistan and remove its nuclear weapons by force.

Pakistanis, on the whole, are unwilling to accept the idea that their own Muslim brothers based in the tribal areas are responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of Pakistanis since 9/11,” said Arif Rafiq, a political analyst based in Washington in an interview. …..

Read more : The New York Tiems