Purge extremists within Pakistani military



Islamabad: A leading Pakistani daily Friday called for a "purge" of all those military personnel who sympathise with the militants after terrorists targeted a Pakistan Air Force vehicle in Peshawar city.

An editorial in the Dawn said that with the rise of militancy in the country over the last decade, no branch of the armed forces has been spared from militant attacks.

The navy's Mehran base in Karachi was stormed last year, while militants attacked the army GHQ in Rawalpindi in 2009. Most recently, Pakistan Air Force's complex at Kamra was targeted last month.

On Wednesday, at least 10 people were killed when a car bomb went off in Peshawar and police believe the target was a PAF vehicle en route to a nearby base.

The daily said: "Apart from Kamra, which has come under attack four times since 2007, the PAF has also been targeted on other occasions... Many of these attacks were claimed by militant groups, and in several cases ex-servicemen were implicated."

"These repeated incidents point to the apparent vulnerability of the forces, particularly the air force. They indicate that inside information is being passed on to militants, especially regarding the movement of personnel and base security details," it said.

The editorial warned that the assertion that "the forces in general and PAF specifically have extremists within the ranks must not be disregarded".

"Several PAF personnel were involved in an assassination attempt on former military ruler Gen Pervez Musharraf in 2003. A number of these individuals were dismissed or arrested for their links with militant groups. It is also true that in several incidents the assailants have been dressed in military uniforms."

The daily called upon the PAF to "ascertain how much influence militants wield within the ranks".

"Clearly, preventive security in its current form has not deterred the militants. What is needed - in all the armed services - is not only greater scrutiny but a purge of all those sympathising with the militants and who are likely to pass on inside information to militants. Otherwise, such attacks will continue," it added.

IANS