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Karachi airport attack: What makes the Taliban so deadly

Last updated on: June 10, 2014 13:53 IST

Karachi airport attack: What makes the Taliban so deadly

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The Tehreek-i-Taliban which claimed responsibility of the brazen attack on the Jinnah International Airport in Karachi, is made up of Chechens, Arabs, Afghan Taliban, Uzbeks and central Asians, has become a lethal force. Vicky Nanjappa tells you why

The Tehreek-i-Taliban made it clear that the attack was carried out for two reasons. First, it was to avenge the death of its former chief Hakimullah Mehsud who was killed in a drone strike in November 2013. Second, by attacking an airport, the TTP wanted to send out a signal to the United States which uses the Karachi airport for its cargo which is involved in operations in Afghanistan.

This unit of the TTP has turned rogue for the ISI, which has absolutely no control over it. The TTP has in the past attacked the Bacha Khan international airport in Peshawar. It has also carried out attacks at the PNS Mehran navy airbase in 2011 and at the Pakistan air force base at Kamra in 2012.  Each attack was deadlier than the other, and this was the TTP’s way of conveying a strong message to the US and Pakistan against the use of air space to attack Afghanistan.

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Image: A Pakistan army officer at the Karachi aiport
Photographs: Athar Hussain/Reuters

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Many thought that the split in the Taliban which took place a couple of weeks ago had weakened the outfit. However looking at the precision with which the Karachi attack was carried out it becomes clear that they are not lacking in strength. Within the Pakistan establishment it is said that the TTP may not be entirely happy with the success of the Karachi attack and would have wanted much more casualties.

“However, despite the split, they have managed to penetrate into a very important area in Karachi, which is worrisome,” says the official.

An officer in the Intelligence Bureau says that over the years, the TTP, which is made up of Chechens, Arabs, Afghan Taliban, Uzbeks and Central Asians, has become a lethal force.

“They have been in the process of forming an alliance since the past five years and have successfully managed to put together a formidable force. This is one of the main reasons why the split did not hurt them one bit. The Karachi attack is suspected to have had more Uzbeks in the team and Pakistan would be able to confirm that once the DNA tests are conducted,” the officer points out.

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Image: Soldiers arrive at the Karachi airport to battle terrorists
Photographs: Athar Hussain/Reuters

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Karachi airport attack: What makes the Taliban so deadly

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The TTP also appears to be trying to isolate Pakistan. The intent is to make it an extremely dangerous country for the outsider, so that the Pakistan economy is hurt badly. In the past, they managed to bring an end to international cricket being played in Pakistan by attacking the Sri Lankan cricket team in 2009.

“Now they want to ensure that foreign airlines stay away from Pakistan, which in turn would hurt the economy even harder,” the official adds. Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Shariff has made several attempts to strike peace with the TTP, but has failed miserably. Adding to this problem is the numerous officers within the ISI and the army are sympathetic to the TTP’s cause.

If the TTP’s demands are accepted then it would turn into a state run by terrorists who will have access to the nuclear setup as well. Some of the demands put forth by the TTP include the withdrawal of the army from the tribal regions and the enforcement of Sharia law across Pakistan. The TTP has also been speaking on behalf of the deadly East Turkestan Islamic Movement, which carried out a deadly attack at Xinjiang in China recently.

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Image: A policeman with a gun stands on a vehicle at the aiport
Photographs: Athar Hussain/Reuters

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Following the brazen attack on Karachi airport, Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed on Monday blamed the ‘new security team’ of Prime Minister Narendra Modi government for the carnage.

The attack falls under the category of a “spectacular attack,” which requires immense planning. Saeed, the 26/11 attack mastermind, must know that an attack of such a nature requires years of planning. The Modi government is just a month old.

“Pakistan must realise that this particular attack was a result of the Inter-Services Intelligence trying to create a split in the TTP. Moreover, since the last many years, the TTP has been very clear that it does not like any kind of Indian interference in Afghanistan and this would not have been their stand had they been a proxy of the Indian state,” an intelligence official says.


Image: Pakistan army soldiers sit on a vehicle as they arrive at Jinnah International Airport in Karachi
Photographs: Athar Hussain/Reuters

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