Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Pakistan, Defending Itself

"It is not possible for people with no familiarity with the military establishment to be able to carry out such an attack. Like in Rawalpindi, the militants had inside facilitators who provided access" Kamran Bokhari, Middle East and South Asia director for global intelligence firm STRATFOR.
Or, for example, the precision-like and accurately premeditated attack by a handful of jihadis on the Indian city of Mumbai, successfully slaughtering 138 Indians, 28 foreigners and wounding 293. The dead were represented by civilians, Indian security personnel and nine of the ten terrorists. The well-laid plans included attacks at the harbour, an elite hotel, a popular cafe, the rail station, a cinema, hospital and synagogue.

In a currently ongoing trial in Chicago two men originally from Pakistan, one with American the other with Canadian citizenship, testified to having been involved in planning the attack by providing the initial surveillance work, identifying sites to be focused upon and drawing up maps to assist the work of the ten terrorists. The Lashkar-e-Taiba who trained the attackers had support from Pakistan's ISI and military officers.

Pakistan denied any involvement in the horrendous attack. So well organized that ten men were able to murder 166 people, including high-ranking Indian police. The jihadists were in constant contact with their mentors, exhorting them to kill as many innocent people as possible. Pakistan initially denied the attackers were Pakistani in origin, until the one captured attacker made further denials impossible.

Now Pakistan is experiencing huge embarrassment because al-Qaeda's famous founder has been proven to be sheltered by Pakistan just as claimed, for years. The Navy SEALs attack on a private compound dedicated to Osama bin Laden and his entourage, located right next door to the Pakistan Military Academy in Abbottabad, is being treated as an unforgivable assault on Pakistan's sovereignty; denials of complicity in sheltering bin Laden are secondary.

And the Taliban, threatening to avenge the blood of their blessed martyr are striking back. Pakistan boasts its well-trained and -equipped military is second to none; in size perhaps, but effectiveness is questionable. Pakistan nonetheless assures the world, concerned about the inflamed presence of violent religious fanatics in the country and constantly breeding more, that its nuclear installations are safe.

They are contained within impenetrable confines, the mechanisms separated, with the military closely guarding the areas. Which came close to being over-run by a successful insurgency just a few years ago, eventually beaten back into the tribal areas by the military. But just yesterday a secure naval air force base was breached by a handful of well trained terrorists who simply cut through a wire and entered the confines.

The six well armed attackers, two of whom eventually escaped custody, successfully killed 12 security officers in a 17-hour gun battle. A process that saw them destroying a billion dollars' worth of U.S.-manufactured aircraft. This well-staged attack put the lie to Pakistan's boasts that its military is expertly capable of fending off attacks and controlling the extremists.

The problem is largely fuelled by the fact that the extremists are well entrenched within the military. Insider information is very useful in giving the terrorists huge advantages in timing and staging and executing their highly successful attacks.
"On the one hand, you've got elements within the security establishment that are helping the militants, and at the same time, the militants are attacking that same security establishment." Kamran Bokhari
But there is nothing particularly revelatory about any of this; it has been acknowledged and well known that the military and the intelligence services have sheltered elements of the extremists. Always denied, but generally accepted. And the military continues to play its role of controlling the government.

While urging the population to feast on its hatred for the U.S. whose predator drone attacks on leading Taliban militants are a matter of great concern. Of greater concern now that the U.S. has staged a coup of its own in destroying Osama bin Laden's home away from home, and taking him with it. Offending Pakistan and its military no end.

What is to stop the terrorists from availing themselves of some of the stock of nuclear warheads owned by Pakistan? They have the assurance of knowing that assistance will be forthcoming at the highest military levels to guide them unerringly to the source, and the knowledge that the military is not as alert, trained and capable as they claim themselves to be.

The world has good reason to shudder with grim anticipation.

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