Three senior Pakistani Naval officers will face court martial for their alleged negligence during a terrorist attack on Mehran airbase in Karachi that left 10 security personnel dead and two surveillance aircraft destroyed.
Commodore Raja Tahir, the former commander of PNS Mehran airbase, the naval aviation commander and the security officer of the airbase are to face trial in a court martial in connection with the May 22 attack, media reports said.
The navy's internal inquiry into the attack, conducted by Rear Admiral Tehsinullah Khan, recommended the court martial of the three officers. The proceedings will be conducted at the airbase by a five-member military court headed by an officer of the rank of commodore, media reports said.
The navy is set to take "punitive action" against some officers in the light of the recommendations of the Board of Inquiry ordered into the terrorist attack on PNS Mehran, a naval spokesman said. If convicted, the officers could face censure, dishonourable discharge from the navy or even imprisonment, depending on the nature of charges proven against them.
The board of inquiry presented its recommendations to naval chief Admiral Noman Bashir, who authorised the court martial proceedings.
News of the court martial proceedings has inculcated a 'sense of fear' among the officer corps, with many officers fearing that they may be brought before the military court as well, The Express Tribune newspaper quoted its sources as saying.
Javed Iqbal, a retired vice admiral, said the officers being prosecuted are too junior and that far too many senior officers including admirals were being let off the hook. "The attack was a colossal intelligence failure that resulted in losses to the tunes of billions. But have any senior ranking officials in the intelligence agencies or the Pakistan Navy been investigated?" he asked.
Commodore Raja Tahir was removed as commander of PNS Mehran within three days of the attack. A former Pakistan Navy commando and his brother were arrested in Lahore in connection with the attack but they were released a few weeks later.
Reports have suggested that the attackers might have had "inside help".