Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Militant Attack On Pak Naval Base

Pakistani security forces have reclaimed the Mehran naval base in Karachi after an 18- hour battle with militants who had earlier infiltrated it. The attack on the base by the Pakistani Taliban, which has claimed responsibility for the assault, left ten security men dead and at least twenty injured. This latest predicament in which Pakistan finds itself comes only days after some naval buses came under fire from the militants. In October 2009 , the headquarters of the Pakistan army in Rawalpindi came under a similar assault, leaving open the question of how much of a breach of security has occurred in the country's armed forces. The Mehran incident only reinforces the feeling that Pakistan is today in a most vulnerable state from the very militants its notorious inter-services intelligence has often been accused of patronising. There is little question that Pakistan's people are trapped in conditions their government is unable to handle. Certain regions of the country, such as Waziristan, have clearly slipped out of government control and into the hands of the militants. The mountainous borders between Afghanistan and the Pakistani provinces of Baluchistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (former North-West Frontier Province) have been easy routes for militant elements to move around freely. Add to that the recent sighting and killing of Osama bin Laden in Abbotabad only yards away from Pakistan's elite military academy. Compounding matters further for Pakistan is the regularity with which American drone aircraft have been pounding militant positions. President Obama has held out the promise of more such attacks should they become necessary. The attack on the naval base is a patent reaction to the Osama killing. What is worrying, though, is the absolute inability of the Pakistani authorities to prevent the militants from operating so freely as to target the country's military establishments. It will be easy to suggest that the Islamabad government take adequate measures to halt the drift to further chaos. The reality, however, is that for now the militants clearly have an upper hand. And Pakistan's military, long the dominant voice in the country, salvaging its image. The picture is disquieting for Pakistan and the region. Pakistanis deserve a better deal.