Karachiites worried about their city after attack on airbase

Worried Karachiites fret over the future of Pakistan and their city even after security forces recaptured a key Pakistan Naval airbase after a 16-hour gun battle with the Tehreek-e-Taliban militants.

Updated: May 23, 2011, 21:58 PM IST

Karachi: Worried Karachiites fret over
the future of Pakistan and their city even after security
forces recaptured a key Pakistan Naval airbase after a 16-hour
gun battle with the Tehreek-e-Taliban militants.

Pakistan`s interior minister Rehman Malik and the
Pakistan Naval chief Admiral Noman Bashir in separate media
briefings today declared that the PNS Mehran airbase was
now under total control of the security forces after the
militants in a daring attack assaulted the base late on Sunday
night.

The assault left people questioning the ability of
the armed and security forces and the government to tackle the
wave of terrorism in the country.

The assault on the naval base brought more
embarrassment for the government following the US raid in
Abbottabad on May 2 in which they killed Al-qaeda leader,
Osama bin Laden.

The 16-hours-long siege left 10 security officials
dead and around 20 injured, according to Malik. Four militants
were also killed in the attack.

The terrorists had been using heavy weaponry "the kind
no common man can`t afford to buy", said Malik.

He said the terrorists had to be receiving support
and equipment from somewhere only lending credence to fears
that they are rogue elements within the establishment and
armed and intelligence forces who facilitate the Taliban and
other Jihadi activities.

Despite the refusal of Malik and the Naval chief to
accept there had been a big security lapse, worried citizens,
defence and political analysts felt otherwise.

"How can just five or six militants cause so much
damage in what is supposed to be a highly sensitive and
secured area. If they can assault a Naval airbase what
security do we have in our homes, schools, markets or
workplaces," Zehra Akhtar a school teacher who watched the
event unfolding on the television channels said.

Malik said since Pakistan was a main front in the war
against terror, it was expected that after the death of Osama
bin Laden the militants would try to attack important military
installations.

He said plans to attack military installations and
important figures were made at a meeting in North Waziristan
-- a global hub for militants on the Afghan border -- after
bin Laden`s killing.

"If the government knows terrorists are planning this
why was there no security personal placed around the walls of
the base. Is this not a security lapse and sadly nothing will
happen no one will be held accountable," Asif Tirmizi a first
year student who watched the entire episode unfold from his
apartment near Karsaz said.

Kamran Khan a well known political analyst and
current affairs host said the incident spelt in capital
letters of a big security lapse.

"Initially they talked about the base being attacked
by around a dozen militants but now they are not even sure if
they were four or five. This is a big worrying factor for
everyone," he said.

Nasim Zehra a political and current affairs expert
said the attack only highlighted the need for the government
and military to accept they were insiders who were
facilitating the terrorists in their actions.

"It is not possible for these terrorists to have so
much creditable information about the presence of the
aircrafts on the base without inside help. The fact that these
militants have managed to hold off the security forces for the
last 13 hours shows they came well drilled and prepared for
the operation," Zehra said.

She said that it was time for the nation and armed
forces to recognise they were fighting against a well
organised enemy which is clearly getting inside help.

"They are rogue elements apparently helping these
militants."

On April 26 and 28th militants had carried out three
separate roadside bombings to hit naval buses on the main
Shahrah-e-Faisal road, Defence and Baldia town in which
at least nine people including naval personal were killed and
around 50 injured.

The Pakistani Taliban are led by Hakimullah Mehsud
regularly clash with Pakistani security forces in the
northwest and tribal areas on the borders with Afghanistan
which are hotbeds for militants of different Jihadi groups.

The United States after the raid to kill Osama has
repeatedly told Pakistan to take decisive action against
militants and sees Pakistan as a difficult ally who is not
doing enough to help it in its war on terror in Afghanistan.

PTI