Attack on Pak base debunks govt claims

Primepost News Desk

In the Muslim world, Friday is both a day of prayer and death. An unprecedented rise in militant activity, ethnic strife and internecine wars in the Middle East has made Friday congregations in mosques favourite targets for gunmen and suicide bombers. Worshippers are virtually sitting ducks when insurgents attack them. The Friday assault on a mosque on the outskirts of Peshawar in Pakistan was one of them.

It was as deadly as it was brazen for two reasons: One, gunmen claiming to be Pakistan Taliban stormed the mosque inside a sprawling air force base and sprayed morning worshippers with bullets, killing at least 20 and injuring several others. Two, it exposed the hollowness of Pak claims that their military complexes were well safeguarded and impenetrable to the enemy.

According to reports, an unknown number of Taliban fighters had attacked the guardroom first before zeroing in on the mosque. Thirteen of the attackers were reportedly killed in a firefight lasting several hours with regular Pak Army troops. It was not known if anyone had escaped or how many were involved in the operation at Badaber base.

Set up in the 1960s, it was mostly used by Americans for surveillance against the Soviets in Afghanistan and later to help Afghan tribes to fight occupational forces and for air raids on Afghan Taliban bases. Now, Pak air force officials say, it is mostly a civilian area populated by air force staff from Peshawar, the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, formerly known as North-West Frontier Province (NWFP), bordering the tribal area of North Waziristan, which is a militant beehive.

For over a year, the Pakistan Air Force has been targeting insurgent hideouts there and elsewhere in an offensive that is estimated to have killed more than 3,000 militants. They also have close links with Afghan Taliban and often they are said to coordinate their operations against civilians and government forces in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Claiming responsibility, Pakistani Taliban spokesman Muhammad Khurasani said a “suicidal unit” had carried out the attack, the first on a military target since a Pakistan Navy ship was attacked in Karachi’s dockyard in September last year. Also, it is the bloodiest since last December’s massacre of 150 pupils and teachers at Peshawar’s Army Public School. It is believed that the attackers might have been helped by some insiders at the air force base.

The attack shows, once again, who is Pakistan’s real enemy. The country faces threats to its survival not from outside but from within.

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