'Insiders' helped militants plot Pak naval base attack

A paramilitary soldier stands guard outside a major Pakistani naval air base following an attack by militants in Karachi on Monday. AFP

Terming the Taliban attack on the Mehran naval air base as a “big security lapse”, Pakistani defence and political analysts on Monday said that “insiders” were facilitating the militants in their deadly agenda and asked the government and military to wake up.

The daring attack by the armed militants, who used rockets, grenades and heavy ammunition, has raised serious doubts over the military’s ability to protect its key installations. “This is nothing but a serious security lapse on part of the navy,” Air Vice Marshal (retd) Shahzad Chaudhary, a defence analyst said.

He pointed out that PNS Mehran was one of Pakistan’s most important naval airbases with the latest equipment and for militants to attack it so easily and brazenly showed big loops in the security. “Just last month two bomb attacks were carried out on Naval buses in the city. The naval installations should have been on high alert after that,” he said.

Another defence analyst, Ikram Saigal noted that after the killing of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden on May 2 in Abbottabad by US forces, the Taliban had vowed to carry out revenge attacks.

Eyeopener

“This is a clear failure of security and intelligence and the government needs to really look deep down to prevent such attacks again,” he said.

As security forces continued to battle 15-20 Taliban militants who struck to take control of the base housing naval maritime aircraft and naval missiles, Nasim Zehra, a political and current affairs expert, said the attack highlighted the need for the government and military to accept they were insiders who were facilitating the terrorists in their actions.

“It is not possible for these terrorists to have creditable information about the presence of aircraft on the base without inside help.

“The fact that they managed to hold off the security forces for long shows they came prepared,” Zehra said. She said that it was time for the armed forces to recognise they were fighting a well-organised enemy which is getting inside help. “There are rogue elements apparently helping the militants.”

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