By S. M. Hali
Before concluding who was behind the daring and well conducted attack by well trained terrorists, with sophisticated communication equipment, night vision devices; state-of-the-art weaponry on PNS Mehran, we need to asses who gained maximum from this assault. The loss of two P3C-Orion maritime surveillance aircraft, which were India-specific, and is capable of primarily conducting maritime patrol, reconnaissance, anti-surface warfare and anti-submarine warfare, benefits the adversary. In one stroke, 75% of Pakistan’s P3C fleet has been decimated. The armed forces of Pakistan, who were humiliated as a result of Operation Geronimo on May 02, have been further besmirched as a result of the breach of security at PNS Mehran and the 16 hours required to break the siege by only four (+2) terrorists. This act speaks volumes for whodunit. According to an international news agency, the Tehrik-e-Taliban (Pakistan) claimed responsibility, but this appears to be a red herring. This was no ragtag militia descended from the tribal region between Afghanistan and Pakistan. The targeted P3C-Orions were not being used in the war against terror so were of no threat to the Taliban or Al-Qaeda. Pakistan Navy has not been an active participant in the War on Terror (WoT) apart from its contribution to the anti-piracy efforts or the Maritime Task Force in the Indian Ocean. This lends credence to the earlier media reports of the Indian spy agency RAW, infiltrating the Taliban and Al-Qaeda with some other foreign intelligence agencies to destabilize Pakistan.
Rsulting from the attack, a number of advantages can be accrued to the enemies of Pakistan. Besides the trauma and shock, the loss of high value military hardware and the loss of ten lives and injuries to 15 armed forces personnel, a clear message has been sent to Pakistan. The detractors of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program are bent upon proving that there are breaches in the security system, which can lead to the nuclear weapons landing in the hands of terrorists, thus endangering the world. No amount of reasoning, rationalization and explanation that sophisticated nuclear weapons are not hand grenades, which can be transported and hurled at targets with impunity gas worked, since the detractors are bent upon Pakistan abandoning its nuclear weapons, they will stop at nothing short of actually defanging us. The detractors, through intelligence and war games with varied scenarios, have explored the possibilities of taking control of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons but have reached virtual deadends. Their only option is to browbeat the nation and its armed forces and traumatizing us into voluntarily handing over our nukes into international safekeeping. To build such a scenario, we must brace for more attacks.
The other aspect is vindictiveness for the Mumbai attacks. India has been itching for leveling the score, since it has been alleging that Pakistan was behind the Mumbai attacks. It tried launching surgical strikes but lost its nerve, when its initial probe missions got intercepted. Ever since, India has been pressurizing Pakistan for action against the alleged perpetrators of the Mumbai attack but has ended up with egg on its face when one of the persons in the so called list is found to be residing in Mumbai.
India has been targeting PN’s maritime patrol aircraft since the 1990s. IAF targeted and shot down PN’s Atlantique reconnaissance aircraft over Sir Creek area on August 11, 1999 when the unarmed aircraft was flying close to the Indian border. It is another story that nature avenged the death of the 16 innocent PN personnel, who perished with the Atlantique, when Squadron Leader Bundela, the pilot of the MiG-21, who shot down the Atlantique, himself crashed and was paralyzed from the neck down and struggled as a near vegetable for four months before succumbing to his injuries.
It is now abundantly clear who is targeting Pakistan. The fact that four+two terrorists managed to infiltrate PNS Mehran with impunity, and two of them make good their escape despite the security dragnet, there is dire need for the government to revisit its security and anti-terrorist policy, evolve a clear cut strategy to combat the scourge of terrorism and take the people of Pakistan into confidence to garner their support. The attack on PNS Mehran smacks of inside help too hence the people and armed forces of Pakistan need to be extra vigilant to thwart the evil designs of the enemy that has infiltrated in our midst and is bent on subverting us, but with watchfulness and care, we can provide safety to Pakistan. It is now a battle for our survival.