Thursday, December 03, 2009

Terrorism: Pakistan - another attack on Naval Headquarters

By B RAMAN See also:

An alert official of the Pakistani naval intelligence in plain clothes and a naval security guard in uniform deployed outside the building of the Pakistan Navy Headquarters in Islamabad prevented what could have been a major terrorist strike against the Naval Headquarters by an unidentified suicide bomber on December 2,2009. Spotting a suspicious-looking individual outside the NHQ, they stopped him and searched him. He turned out to be a suicide bomber wearing a concealed suicide vest. However, they could not prevent him from activating the explosive device in the vest.One person was killed on the spot and another succumbed to his injuries later.

2. This was the second jihadi terrorist attack on a naval target since the commando raid into the Lal Masjid of Islamabad in July,2007. The Lal Masjid raid made the Pakistani Taliban known as the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) turn against the Pakistani security forces.Since July 2007, there have been many suicide and suicidal attacks on personnel of the Armed Forces and the police----not only in the tribal areas, but also in non-tribal areas , including in Islamabad and Rawalpindi and in heavily guarded cantonments.

3.The first attack on a naval establishment took place on March 4, 2008. Two unidentified suicide bombers, operating in tandem, attacked the prestigious Naval War College located in a high security area of Lahore. They were both on motor-cycles. One of them rammed his motor-cycle against the security gate at the rear of the building breaking it open. The other drove through this opening into the parking area and blew himself up. Their target was the naval institution and not any particular individual or individuals inside. They wanted to demonstrate their ability to penetrate the campus and cause damage. Six persons were killed--- one of them a naval officer, three members of the security guards at the gate and the two suicide bombers.

4.The Pakistan Navy has had no role to play in the operations in the Lal Masjid, the FATA ( Federally-Administered Tribal Areas) and Swat.However,the logistic supplies for the NATO forces are brought to the Karachi port, unloaded there under the protection of the Pakistani Navy and then transported to Afghanistan by trucks. While the Pakistani Army and Air Force have no operational role to play in the US-led military operations in the Afghan territory against Al Qaeda and the Neo Taliban, the Pakistani Navy is a member of the US-led international naval force which patrols the seas to the west of Pakistan to prevent any hostile activity which could hamper the operations in Afghan territory. The Combined Task Force (CTF) 150, established near the beginning of Operation Enduring Freedom in 2001, comprise naval forces from France, Germany, Italy, Pakistan, the United Kingdom and the United States. The task force conducts maritime security operations (MSO) in the Gulf of Aden, the Gulf of Oman, the Arabian Sea, the Red Sea, and the Indian Ocean. The leadership of the Task Force is rotated amongst the participating navies. A Pakistani naval officer has been commanding it off and on when the turn of the Pakistan Navy comes.

5.During the election campaign of 2008, one of the issues raised by Mr. Nawaz Sharif, former Prime Minister, was the need to re-examine the implications of the US declaring Pakistan a non-NATO ally. He apparently felt that this declaration was meant to facilitate the involvement of the Pakistani Navy in the Afghanistan-related joint naval operations of the NATO and wanted a re-think on it. He has not been raising this issue in recent months. The TTP has not raised this issue either.( 3-12-09)

The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai.

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