Pakistan will never say that it has itself to blame for what is happening to it on its own soil – ever-increasing acts of terror that continue to target security forces and military assets. The terror attack on the Mianwali training airbase in Punjab province on Saturday within hours after it lost 14 security personnel in Gwadar, Balochistan in an ambush, has exposed the serious weaknesses and vulnerabilities of Pakistan’s military setup.
The irony of this, and other audacious terror attacks, is that perpetrators were the ones who were nourished and nurtured by the Pakistani establishment to create its safety valves to bleed neighbours, based on the thesis that a terror campaign across the border will help it secure its borders and hinterland . Pakistan’s belief that terrorists were un-uniformed force multipliers has come to haunt it, and it is now paying a heavy price for the miscalculation and the blunders it committed.
The terror attack on Mianwali airbase was a terror attack. The Pakistani army is satisfied that it has been able to foil the terror attack and the damage that the terrorists intended to cause at the high-profile military asset. This satisfaction doesn’t cover up what caused this, and other terror attacks, in act where is the cause for satisfaction when the terrorists of its own creation have been eliminated in firefight with them. Pakistan has killed its own assets to save other assets. There could not have been greater irony in the whole episode of cat and mouse game at the airbase.
Pakistan’s inter-services public relations or ISPR detailed the incident like this: “ On 04 November 2023, in the early hours of the day, Mianwali Training Airbase of Pakistan Air Force came under a terrorist attack, which Alhumaddallah ( Thank God), due to the swift and effective response by the troops, has been foiled and thwarted, ensuring the safety and security of personnel and assets.”
In the fight against terrorists, Pakistani troops neutralized nine terrorists and saved its assets. The ISPR statement said that” during the attack, some damage to three already grounded aircraft and fuel bowser also occurred.”
In a related statement released after the conclusion of the operation, the ISPR said,” The prompt and professional conclusion of the operation serves as a stark reminder to all enemies of peace that Pakistan’s armed forces remain vigilant and is fully capable of defending the homeland from any threat.”
The question that remains answered, or is being deliberately not being answered is who all are enemies of peace? This is a valid question as the attack, has been claimed by Tehreek-e-Jihad, Pakistan, an affiliate of homegrown Tehreek-e-Taliban, Pakistan. Since these are homegrown terror groups of Pakistan, it should lead to another question, why Pakistan has not been able to neutralize the ideology of enemies of peace, or more importantly, why did it create these anti-peace militants?
The latest fashion in Pakistan is to blame Taliban-ruled Afghanistan for sheltering and facilitating these groups for mounting attacks on Pakistani soil. Pakistan and Taliban leadership have exchanged butter words over the issue. Some of the analysts have concluded that these groups have become emboldened after the exit of the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in August 2021. Pakistan is convinced that the change of the regime in Afghanistan two years ago has changed the security situation for the worse in Pakistan. Against this backdrop, Pakistan should demand answers from itself whether it was right in expediting and forcing the early exit of American troops from Afghanistan.
It had helped Taliban to take over Kabul and the rest of Afghanistan in August 2021 in its self-belief that it would gain control of Afghanistan by proxy and hence define the geopolitics of South Asia. Pakistan based its strategic calculations on two counts – with Taliban-ruled Afghanistan under its tutelage, it will help it in widening its geographical influence that would create a greater counter-balance to India as, despite the nuclear parity, Islamabad had been feeling the pinch of the much superior conventional warfare capabilities.
Second, it wanted to use Afghanistan as a ground to further its friendship with China. The communist nation was keen on expanding its belt and road initiative into Afghanistan. The crucial strategic interests of China-Pakistan converged and at the same time they were seeking to neutralize, or at least undermine the American interests in the region. The strategy has backfired. It’s time for Pakistan to revisit its strategies and identify.