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Current Affairs ( 10 Jun 2014, NewAgeIslam.Com)

The Fact and Factions of Karachi Strike




By Rana Banerji

11 June, 2014

THE attack on the old terminal of Karachi’s Jinnah International Airport on June 8 night has been claimed by Tehrik- e- Taliban (TTP) while the follow- up attempt on Tuesday to hit the Airport Security Force (ASF)’ s Camp No. 2 in the Bhitai Abad, Pehelwan Goth outskirts of the city, near the airport, has been claimed by the Mohmand Taliban.

The earlier attack was deadlier, leading to a toll of 37, including 10 terrorists, of whom at least four were reportedly Uzbeks affiliated to the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan ( IMU). The terrorists were heavily armed and had come prepared for a long siege. Some intelligence about the attack apparently existed. The response by the ASF, Pakistan Rangers and Army ( V Corps) commandos was quick enough and contained the damage though contradictory reports surfaced in Pakistani media about possible damage to some civilian or cargo aircraft.

The subsequent attempt may have been undertaken by the remnants of the first group after the June 8 attack was neutralised.

Two suspects involved in the latter incident have been apprehended alive.

Though claimed to be in retaliation for the November 2013 drone attack that killed Hakimullah Mehsud, the raids seem to have been orchestrated by Mullah Fazlullah in response to the Army’s aerial bombardment in North Waziristan on May 21 and 23, which killed almost 60 Taliban, including some foreign militants. The Army also undertook aerial bombardment of Sunni militants in Tirah Valley of Khyber Agency after the June 8 Karachi airport incident, killing 15 militants in nine hideouts.

By attempting this sensational attack on Karachi airport, Fazlullah may have wanted to assert his own writ over the TTP, which seemed to be eroding after the split with Mehsud’s faction led by Khan Saeed Sajna. The latter is reported to have been more amenable to peace feelers from the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) government’s civilian negotiators. He is also learnt to have arrived at some understanding with Hafiz Gul Bahadur and Mullah Nazir’s faction of TTP in Waziristan, both of whom have abiding accords with the Army, to live and let live.

The Army and Inter- Services Intelligence (ISI) have been working hard for a while now, to drive a wedge between these groups.

Be that as it may, the Karachi incidents signify finally that the peace process with the TTP has reached a dead end. The Army will have a difficult job on its hands as it takes on the militant factions of TTP aligned with Fazlullah. Reprisals have already occurred in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Now Karachi has become the focus and there may be more attacks on civilian or military installations there. The outlying areas of the city have a lot of new Pashtun settlements where civilian refugees from Swat and Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) have migrated in the last four years. Searching TTP militants will be difficult as they find easy refuge in these settlements, not to mention the various mushrooming madrasas of the new Pashtun settlers in Karachi.

KARACHI’S V Corps has a relatively new Corps Commander, Lt Gen Sajjad Ghani, an Engineers’ officer, who was slotted there by former Army Chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani in November 2013, just before his retirement.

The brunt of the counter- insurgency operations against the TTP in Karachi will, however, be borne by the Pakistan Rangers, currently headed by Maj Gen Rizwan Akhtar.

He belongs to the Pfiffers (Frontier Force) regiment and has considerable field experience against militancy, having served earlier as GOC, 9 Div, Kohat. Both have their task cut.

Rana Banerji is former special secretary RAW

Source: Mail Today