Militancy and Pakistan Army

Terrorist attack on PNS ZulfiqarBy Sabena Siddiqui

An attack on a Pakistan Navy ship PNS Zulfiqar was thwarted recently, it has been claimed by al Qaeda’s new South Asian wing. The new group was announced recently by Ayman al-Zawahiri, three of the attackers were killed and seven arrested in this  wings first ever terror attack. This incident has highlighted the threat of militant infiltration in Pakistan’s military.

By a long shot, this attack has been linked with the US and even India, both these countries had their ships nearby. Some say the Pakistan Navy ship was attacked by mistake thinking it to be an American ship, while others voice fears that the attackers would have first siezed the Pakistan Navy ship and used it to attack the American ship. This incident has been portrayed by world media as a major attempt to sabotage Pakistan, s relations with the US and India at the very least. With very few facts and evidence, this twist was given to the incident even before the results of a Pakistan Navy inquiry into the matter are made known officially.

Militant infiltration is not as big a problem as in the past, this is more of an ideological battle throughout the country rather than just in the military. The country is at war at this point in time, dealing a severe blow to extremist elements. The army is fighting the TTP/Pakistani Taliban , IMU and other militant groups in N.Waziristan, it has successfully destroyed their infrastructure and hideouts and many terrorists have been killed. The militants will strike back anywhere they find a chance, it is only to be expected in a state of war.

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The military has a strict no tolerance policy for any radicals, radicalism and sectarianism has always been disliked by the army, extremists have always been retired personnel or deserters. Ovais Jakhrani who led the attack on PNS Zulfiqar, was dismissed from Pakistan Navy while on training for his odd fundamentalist behaviour and radical views, it is said later he went to Afghanistan, joined a militant group there and associated with AlQaeda. This attack came after some months of his expulsion from the Navy.
Once any individuals retire or are dismissed from service in the armed forces, technically they are free agents then and Pakistan Navy has nothing to do with them.

Maybe a tracking system could be devised to keep tabs on officers once they leave service, so that pro-active measures can be taken. These individuals can develop any political or religious affiliations once they are no longer in service. This incident should not be unfairly interpreted as some militant link in the armed forces. It is the national army which never supports extremists, it is actively striving to wipe out terrorism, the policy is zero tolerance. This resolve has deterred militancy and soon Pakistan will be free of such elements. In Pakistan Army, all pray in the same mosque no matter which sect they belong to, there is no concept of sectarianism in the first place.

There has never been a single such individual from the ISI involved in such a matter, ISI is Pakistan,s premier intelligence agency, army officers have been court-martialled for such misdemeanours in the past.

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Adnan Rashid was a junior technician in Pakistan Air Force, he was sentenced to death by a field general court martial for his alleged attempt on the life of Gen Musharraf.Later he escaped in Bannu jailbreak and became a Taliban commander, recently he has been captured again. The armed forces have severely dealt with similar miscreants in the past.

The attack was successfully repulsed by naval commandos, this shows the state of alertness of Pakistan army. The intelligence agencies had warned there might be such an attack just two days before it transpired. It is not possible to provide a conclusion while the naval inquiry is under process, it is even the policy of the US Pentagon to refrain from giving any information until an inquiry is final.

There have been three attacks on American army bases in one year, mostly by retired ex personnel. AlQaeda, s attack on US naval ship USS Cole was one of the deadliest attacks with higher casualties. This year, an Indian ship was also attacked and suffered a lot of damage. In comparison the attack on PNS Zulfiqar was quickly repulsed and the perpetrators were killed on the spot.
Such attacks have happened in other countries too, the threat is not restricted to Pakistan. AlQaeda has announced its intention to spread out at sea, this threat should be dealt with on an international level.

The Zarb e Azb operation/ war has decreased the incidence of terrorism in Pakistan by 80 percent, now terrorists attacks are fewer and far between. Before the operation, there were multiple bomb blasts almost daily in the country. This is a larger canvas than just an isolated single incident, Pakistan is at war with many groups of militants and any group can strike anywhere.

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Pakistani nuclear safety is efficient and effective, the nuclear program is run under the rules and regulations of IAEA.
Pakistan has done a lot since 2012 to increase protection of its atomic-bomb fuel than any other nuclear-armed country, a US study released this year on worldwide nuclear material security described Pakistan as the ‘most improved’ country among nine nuclear-armed states, securing its nuclear materials much better than India. The IAEA has declared Pakistan,s Nuclear Security Action Plan a model for other nations.

So on these grounds fearing any nuclear security lapse from Pakistan is unfounded. There has never been a single nuclear safety incident in Pakistan, while dangerous lapses have occured in the US and India. It is quite unreasonable to link the attack on PNS Zulfiqar with Pakistan, s nuclear safety when it has a clean track record.

The attack was unsuccessful and should not be blown out of all proportion with exaggerations, Jakhrani and his accomplices did not wreak much damage. The attack had nothing to do with Pakistan’s nuclear assets or attacking a US ship. Pakistan has demonstrated its resolve and ability to wipe out such enemies.