Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Attack on GHQ analysed

Attack on GHQ analysed
Dr Shabir Choudhry 13 October 2009

Pakistanis are very determined people. Once they set their eyes on something they will go for it all the way. They wanted to get Jammu and Kashmir, not because they wanted to ‘liberate them’ but because that suited their national interest; and for that they risked everything and despite many internal and external threats, still have not abandoned their mission to get Kashmir.

Likewise war against Taliban was not their war, but they wanted to make it their war as it suited them. They worked hard for number of years to make it a Pakistani war. Their sincerity in this regard and hard work has paid off, and now it is their own war. It has knocked the walls of their command and control centre, a building which was supposed to be most important and heavily guarded.

This building – their GHQ should have be impregnable, and yet only ten men in broad day light managed to penetrate that and kill more than fourteen army men including one Brigadier and one Lt Colonel. They even managed to make thirty nine people hostage for more than eighteen hours. Nine attackers were killed and there commander was injured and arrested.

Americans and others involved in the ‘war on terrorism’ must feel satisfied now. They can take a back seat and let Pakistanis fight this war which will kill more Muslims and Pakistanis, as both warring sides are Muslims and Pakistanis. Full Pakistani involvement in this war will mean America can stay longer in Afghanistan and put in practise policies to control and dominate this region and Central Asia.

No one wins in wars. All lose although some lose more than others. In this war where battleground is Pakistan and its cities, Pakistan cannot be a winner. It is not a war, it is called a civil war, and Pakistan fought one civil war in 1970/71 with disastrous results.

Pakistani army and leaders are claiming that outcome of the attack is a ‘victory’; and ‘paid defence analysts, conspiracy theorists and TV anchors’ were hired to distract attention and present it as a great victory. If the aim of ten militants was to host a Taliban flag on the building of GHQ, and they failed in that then it is a victory for the army, but anyone with any sense knows that this was not their aim. Their aim was to cause death and make big news of this; and they have done that successfully. They killed two senior officers and twelve others. They have sent a clear message that they can penetrate anywhere and that nothing in Pakistan is beyond their reach.

This attack has seriously demoralised common man because they think if the headquarters of the army is not safe then how could we be safe in this environment where terrorists are calling shots and attacking and penetrating army and security related institutions. First responsibility of every state is to provide basic security to its citizens, and if that is not guaranteed then people have right to question the purpose of government and State.

Disturbing aspect of this episode is that there were intelligence reports that something similar to what has happened might be attempted. The report was also published in some Pakistani newspapers which clearly stated that there could be attack on army headquarters by militants dressed as soldiers. The report also warned that the attack could be a joint effort of Taliban, Lashkar e Tayiba and Jaish-e-Muhammad. People want to know why despite a prior warning from intelligence reports preventive measures were not taken.

What annoys people more than anything else is the fact that these organisations were established, trained and funded by Pakistani agencies to advance Pakistan’s political agenda. In other words Pakistani money and know how was used to train these people who have now turned against Pakistan and its policies. They have become a major threat to Pakistan, its security and society. They have killed thousands of Pakistani soldiers and many senior officers.

Moreover the commander of the operation, Aqeel, alias Dr Usman, is a former soldier himself. He left army service and first joined Lashkar e Taiba, and then he joined Jaish e Mohammed and then became part of Tehrek e Taliban Pakistan. No one knows how many Dr Usman’s have joined the terrorist groups and where they are hiding with inside knowledge. It also raises a serious question as to how security agencies will react if in future another attack is made with dozens of trained militants, especially on sensitive facilities.

It is a major policy blunder, a major security laps and a big failure, and despite that if Pakistani analysts and military generals want to present this as a victory then may Allah put them on right path? In view of many analysts, Pakistani and foreign, it was not a victory for Pakistan, if anything; it exposed Pakistani potential and security preparedness.

There should have been a committee set up to investigate what went wrong; and how it could be avoided in future. We know it won’t happen. Last time it was Prime Minister Junejo who set up a committee to find out who was responsible for Ojeri Camp explosions. The men in Khaki did not like this, and his government was dismissed before the report could be completed. No wonder every politician is congratulating the army for this ‘victory’ instead of asking for any investigation.

To make things worse for Pakistan their one time ‘blue eyed boy’ and famous commander, Ilyas Kashmiri is still alive. He was thought to have been killed by a drone attack on 14th September 2009 in a village of Turikhel near the town of Mir Ali in Taliban-controlled North Waziristan. Ilyas Kashmiri is a former commando of Special Services Group of Pakistan army. He has promised retribution against the ''U.S and its proxies,''

According to the US intelligence reports, Ilyas Kashmiri is one of al Qaeda's most dangerous commanders. At one time he was operational chief of the Harkat-ul Jihad Islami, an Al Qaeda-linked terror group that operates in Pakistan, Kashmir, India, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh. He was listed as the fourth most wanted terrorist by Interior Ministry of Pakistan.

Some analysts believe that Ilyas Kahmiri could also be behind the attack on the GHQ. Dr Usman, commander of the attack on the GHQ, is also a member of Harkat ul Jihad Islami and served under Ilyas Kashmiri. He is a commander of Brigade 313 which is thought to behind many of the high-profile attacks and bombings inside Pakistan. ILyas Kashmiri dropped out of favour with the Pakistan military after he refused to join Jaish e Mohammed. After army attack on Red Mosque, he set up a camp in Ramzak, North Wazirstan, where many people were recruited. It is believed that many radical army officers were among those who joined him.

This week alone Pakistan has lost more than 125 people in terrorist related incidents, and yet Rehman Malik, Interior Minister of Pakistan has guts to say that he and his strategy was working. I don’t know how many times he has claimed that his strategy has broken back of the terrorists; and each time terrorists come back with vengeance and bigger attack to humiliate him and Pakistani efforts to fight terrorism.

Attack on GHQ has hurt Pakistan and its pride, but Rehman Malik defends his intelligence services, even though they failed to stop the attack despite reports of the attack in advance. The report of the attack was even published in a newspaper on 5th October. Once again he has boasted to ‘wipe out Islamist extremists’; I am not sure how many people will take that statement seriously.

If Pakistan seriously want to combat terrorism then first things they want to do is to change Rehman Malik. Since he has taken over there has been increase in terrorist attacks, and Pakistani image has been tarnished. It shows the man doesn’t know what he is doing. One cannot root out terrorism with slogans and bragging. Terrorism has become very sophisticated; and to root it out one needs more sophisticated planning and determination.

Secondly they need to realise that terrorism of all kinds is bad. Combating terrorists at home and supporting them elsewhere gives contradictory signals. If terrorist act is condemnable if it takes place in Islamabad it should also be condemnable if it takes place in Srinagar or Jalalabad.

Thirdly they need to look at causes which breed terrorism. Is it poverty which forces people to join ranks of these? Do they join them for ideological reasons? Are Madrassas churning out religiously motivated graduates who become easy target for the recruiters? Are these people taking revenge because their love ones have lost lives as a result of drones attacks or some aerial bombardment? Or spirits of innocents died during the assault on Red Mosque are haunting those responsible for that ‘crime’?
Writer is a Spokesman of Kashmir National Party, political analyst and author of many books and booklets. Also he is Director Institute of Kashmir Affairs. Email: drshabirchoudhry@gmail.com
To view other articles see my blog: www.drshabirchoudhry.blogspot.com

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