Karachi attack: Launchpad for a fresh bout of terror

Islamabad: The deadly attack on Karachi airport on Monday was the first of many more to come in the future targeting Pakistani sensitive installations. “The attack in Karachi is in revenge to the killing of our leader Hakimullah Mehsud”, said the TTP Spokesperson Shahid Ullah Shahid.

Since the attack on Karachi airport, which exposed a major flaw in capabilities of law enforcement agencies to protect important and sensitive installations, it also exposed the harsh reality that TTP is a much more organized, strategized and equipped militant group, then it used to be 13 years ago.

The fresh onslaught by the TTP is part of its new offensive as Pakistan government along with its army have not extended the 6-year-old peace agreement with Hafiz Gulbahadar group of the Taliban.

The government has also failed to continue their table talks for peace with the Taliban, with the committee gradually falling to pieces after members started to step away from the responsibility.

Pakistan army has also carried out massive aerial bombings sessions in the restive tribal areas, targeting militant hideouts in North and South Waziristan and areas of the unchecked troubled borders with Afghanistan.

The bombings have forced the locals to flee the areas, fearing more bloodshed of innocent locals, whose names are always hidden under collateral damage.

Gulbahadar group sent out pamphlets to locals in the tribal areas, suggesting them to vacate their homes before May 10 2014 amid fears of a major assault by Pakistan army against the militants.

The TTP attack in Karachi airport was similar to that of May 22 attack on Mehran Naval Base in Karachi, in which militants entered into the base from 4 different locations and resisted over 14 hours of fighting with the Pakistani security forces. While many of the militants managed to escape while at least 4 were killed in fighting.

At least 10 militants, in the latest Karachi airport attack were killed in an Army operation, after resisting forces for over 7 long hours. They reached at least 3 different parts of Karachi’s Cargo terminal, armed with heavy artillery including hand grenades, rocket launchers, night vision goggles and enough bullets to keep security forces on their toes.

TTP’s War Declaration; Last nail in peace dialogue coffin:

Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has declared initiation of an all out war against Pakistani security forces, putting the last nail in government’s efforts in materializing peace talks with the TTP. TTP has criticized the government for playing a two faced policy entering into peace talks and making seize fire agreements, while conducting deadly strikes on their installations.

Various political and religious parties did not sanction a military offensive against the TTP, prolonging its failed efforts to bring the militants on the table, while criticizing the Pakistan government.

Good Taliban, Bad Taliban:

Pakistan government in its efforts to ensure regional peace has been on an uphill task of identifying factions of the Taliban to talk to also known as “Good Talibans”, while marking those who oppose peace talks “Bad Talibans”.

Pakistan has invested a lot of time in its identification phase, while Taliban have gathered the time and space to restructure and re-affirm their mission with stronger strategy of operation against the country.

Recently, a tribal Jirga was organized in Peshawar, where over 60 tribal elders gathered to urge the government to stop military offensive in Waziristan and let them put their efforts towards initiating peace agreements with the Taliban factions.

They also highlighted the problems of many people preferring to relocate to Afghanistan from Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and not opting to move to areas inside Pakistani territory.

The Jirga concluded by requesting a 15-day halt to the military offensive and let the tribal elders work towards peace agreements. But, that was over shadowed by TTP’s attacks on military check posts in Bajaur Agency, needling retaliatory action by the armed forces.

Pakistan on Red Alert:

After Karachi airport attack, followed by an open war declaration by the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), all airports, schools, universities, public places and sensitive installations have been put on “Red Alert” by the authorities. Rangers and anti-Terrorist squads are patrolling around the areas, while entry and exit points are being beefed up with security cameras and bomb detectors.

What’s Next:

The TTP threat of attacks and such coordinated attacks needs to be taken into serious consideration by the authorities. It has been revealed in the past that militants use internal help to get through to sensitive installations, this should not be ignored by investigating authorities.  

The critical areas around the Karachi airport like Pehelwan Goth, are often used as militant hideout and safe position in such attacks. Authorities needs to not only search those areas, but also have them listed on record to ensure that they are aware of who is living there, which again, is not an easy task, in view of the sensitivity of militant presence and dense population of Pushtuns in Pehelwan Goth.

National Security outlets will have to re-access their evaluation of TTP strength and will have to equip their officials with similar artillery and training, to handle any future attacks with more efficient and targeted approach.

TTP has called for many more attacks of more intensity in the future, which has filtered down the breathing space for the Pakistani security forces, who will have to take immediate decisions in ensuring enhanced security measures and anti-Terror squad deployments.

The government has still vowed to continue their efforts for peace talks, which many fear will give more time to the TTP, thereby further strengthening them for a stronger offensive.


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