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Attack on Karachi airport

Publication Date : 10-06-2014


In the end, the loss of life and damage could have been much, much higher. But make no mistake about it, the storming of the Karachi airport on Sunday night by militants claimed by the outlawed TTP is a devastating psychological blow. Once again, the terrorists have demonstrated their reach and skill. Once again, Pakistan is in the news all over the world for all the wrong reasons.

Once again, the law-enforcement and intelligence apparatus has been shown to be inadequate. Once again, even the most secure of sites has been penetrated. Once again, Pakistanis have been reminded of just how vulnerable everyone is. And yet again, the government has been nowhere in sight, while the army has swooped in to finish the job and win over the public in the process.

At this point, there is little new that can be said in the aftermath of another familiar attack that should never have occurred. As ever, when it comes to spaces used by the public, there has to be a balance between access and security.

But the problem is of a different kind here: the militants did not try and enter through the passenger terminal at Jinnah International, where security is smothering and concern for the public’s ease of passage minimal. Instead, the militants did what airport security should have done: they clearly reconnoitred the airport’s periphery, found the vulnerable spots and took advantage of them.

Now, the near-inevitable will happen: a ‘high-level’ committee will be tasked to conduct a ‘thorough’ investigation and file a ‘comprehensive’ report, which will then likely never be seen or heard of again. And for a while, sites seen as high-risk across the country will be on ‘red alert’, until the memory of the Karachi attack fades in a few days and laxity and laziness set in again, exposing vulnerabilities everywhere once more.

If asking questions of a seemingly unaccountable and unwilling-to-be-shamed security apparatus never leads to anything — anything good or desirable anyway — perhaps a question can be asked of the Taliban apologists who quickly emerge to obfuscate the problem of terrorism and militancy and try and deflect attention to the ever-cited, never-proved foreign hand and/or outside powers. Every one of the attackers is reportedly dead and their bodies in the state’s possession — meaning who they are and where they came from can be established.

Furthermore, the TTP itself has claimed the attack — and even if it is trying to take the ‘credit’ for something it may not have actually done, the very fact that the militant group wants the country to believe it has perpetrated this attack and is giving reasons for doing so ought to establish that the problems of terrorism and militancy are very much internal to Pakistan, not external.

Perhaps if the apologists are challenged more forcefully, better sense will prevail all round.


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