Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Attack on Shaheens

The holy night of 27th Ramadan is also known as “Lailatul-Qadr” or “The Night of Power”. According to Muslim beliefs, it is when the Noble Qur’an descended. Believers devote much of their time praying, reciting the Qur’an, and remembering God. Lailatul Qadr is better than a thousand months and peace reigns until the rising of the sun.
But not in Kamra. Around 2:00am PST, 9 heavily armed militants with automatic weapons, rocket-propelled grenades and explosives strapped to their bodies stormed Pakistan Air Force Base Minhas (named after Pilot Officer Rashid Minhas Shaheed, Nishan-e-Haider) located only about 40 kilometers (25 miles) northwest of Islamabad, host of fighter jets including F-16s, and a factory that makes aircraft and other weapons systems.
Two hours of intense firefight left a security officer (Shaheed) and nine insurgents dead. One of the rockets hit and damaged a Ukrainian built transport plane parked inside the hangar. The commander in charge of the base was wounded in the attack. After a few hours, without any surprise, Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) spokesperson Ahsanullah Ahsan claimed responsibility for the attack.
This is not the first time that TTP/Militants attacked a military facility inside Pakistan. On May 2011, in the Southern port city of Karachi, 6 Taliban militants attacked Mehran naval base, killing at least 10 people and destroying two US-supplied surveillance aircraft. In October 2009, in the city of Rawalpindi, 10 militants attacked army headquarters (GHQ), killing nine soldiers and 2 civilians. Ironically one thing is common in all the attacks--ex-servicemen were involved along with Taliban fighters.
Some Defense Analysts do not consider the May 2011 raid by US Navy SEALs on Osama Bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad a direct attack on Pakistani security forces or institutions. The relationship between US and Pakistan after the raid demonstrates otherwise.
Minhas Air Force base is also linked to Pakistan's nuclear arsenal. According to western media, the facility is widely believed to store some of the country’s estimated 100 nuclear warheads, even though Pakistani military denies any connection between the base and the nuclear programme.
Almost all the foreign offices of many countries including UK, USA and France issued statements and condemned the attack. They also showed their concern over the safety and security of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal.
On the other hand, Awami Muslim League (AML) chief Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed, also an ally of Imran Khan’s PTI, requested Taliban leader Mullah Omar to allow Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf (PTI) to take his march to Waziristan.
TTP (Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan) spokesperson Ahsanullah Ahsan promised the safety of Imran Khan and his march to Waziristan. After few hours of Minhas base attack, Imran Khan became a mouthpiece for TTP and claimed that Minhas attack was a preemptive strike by TTP in reaction of planned military operation in North Waziristan in September and warned security forces about future suicide attacks.
The Pakistani Taliban and its allies have waged a bloody insurgency against the government that has killed over 30,000 people. This is almost 10 times more than the number of deaths in the World Trade Center attack.
They are attacking our military facilities, causing harm to national security, stability and endangering nuclear arsenals. Our leaders are asking for safety and protection from these criminals. Enough is enough; financial and moral support for these criminals should be stopped.
All parties should unite against this clear and present danger. Support for our security forces is the need of the hour and our security forces needs to follow strict policy of “no criminal left behind”. I hope next Lailatul Qadr will bring Peace and Prosperity until the rising of the sun and beyond, Insha'Allah.

Also published in http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2012/08/17/comment/editors-mail/attack-on-shaheens/

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