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Taliban deals blow to Pakistan’s intelligence and its securities

Pakistan's civil and military leadership has appeared to be divided for some time over the strategy to tackle Taliban insurgency

Published: Updated:

The second terror attack that rocked Pakistan's largest international airport came in less than 48 hours of an all-night gun battle between the militants and the security forces, killing at least 36 people and injuring dozens of others.

Militants stormed a security training academy inside the airport compound hours after Pakistani military declared the area all clear, wrapping up the siege.

The brazen act of terror not only depicts a major intelligence and security failure on the state's part to protect its key national installations but also paints a grim picture of the government's efforts to reach a negotiated peace settlement with the defunct Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), commonly known as the Pakistani Taliban, to restore normalcy in the country.

Taliban claimed responsibility for the recent twin attacks on Karachi's Jinnah Airport and vowed more such attacks to follow.

“Pakistan used peace talks as a tool of war,” said Taliban spokesman Shahidullah Shaid in a statement sent to the media. “We have yet to take revenge for the death of hundreds of innocent tribal women and children in Pakistani air strikes. It’s just the beginning” he added.

War in Urban Centers

All sensitive national installations in Pakistan stand on high alert, as the state braces itself against the newly resurged Taliban threat now that peace talks between the government and Pakistani Taliban, going on for the last few months, have failed.

Pakistan’s intelligence institutions have received “credible reports” leading to believe that threat from tribal areas is reaching the main cities of the country after the failure of peace process and an expected military action to be launched.

Pakistan's civil and military leadership has appeared to be divided for some time over the strategy to tackle Taliban insurgency, where the army vouched for a military operation against the militants and the civilian government opting to engage Taliban in peace dialogue.

The brazen act of terror not only depicts a major intelligence and security failure on the state's part to protect its key national installations

Javeriah Mazhar

However, Pakistani prime minister's latest statement after the second attack on Karachi airport “to pursue the attackers and eliminate them” might suggest a full-scale military offensive in the offing.

The backlash would inevitably be felt in the urban centers of Pakistan which face the risk of higher number of suicide bombings and sabotage activities. According to security analysts and strategists, Pakistan's law enforcement agencies are neither well equipped nor have the requisite counterterrorism training to deal with the approaching threat. This could lead to a wave of chaos and instability in a nuclear capable state that has been struggling against militancy for more than a decade now.

Previously, Taliban militants had attacked a naval base in Karachi, in 2011, destroying two U.S.-made Orion aircraft and killing 10 personnel in a 17-hour siege.

The attack on Pakistan's military headquarter in the garrison city of Rawalpindi in 2009, left 23 people dead including senior military officials while the terror attack on Kamra airbase in 2012, left a big question mark on Pakistani military's security standards; ringing alarm bells across the international community over the safety of Pakistan's nukes.

Taliban resurgence

The recent bloody attacks on Karachi airport came two days after Pakistan's civil and military leadership sent a clear message to the tribal elders to expel the miscreant, especially the foreign militants, out of North Waziristan; an area bordering Afghanistan that has increasingly become a sanctuary for a convoluted mix of militant groups.

The admission by the security personnel investigating Karachi airport attack that a group of foreign fighters, especially the Uzbeks, seemed to have played a major role in the suicide attacks conducted during the assail, further confirms that Taliban has always used foreign militants, including the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) to primarily target Pakistani security forces in collaborated attacks.

The Uzbek militants living in North Waziristan have already denounced the 15-day deadline set by the Pakistani authorities for the foreign militants to leave the area while Mullah Fazlullah, Pakistani Taliban leader residing in Afghanistan, has openly waged war against the state of Pakistan and its security forces.

This resurgence, coming at a time when the United States announced withdrawal of U.S. combat forces from Afghanistan, might point at the fact that Pakistani Taliban could take the military victory of the Afghan Taliban as a success model.