Pakistan caught between the US and Al Qaeda
After the killing of Osama bin Laden in Abbotabad, Pakistan is facing the heat from the West, which is blaming its government for supporting extremist forces. Meanwhile, terror groups wanting to avenge the Al Qaeda chief's death has been targetting Pakistani installations as they feel the government backed United States in the Abbotabad operation.
Soon after bin Laden was killed the Al Qaeda and Taliban declared Pakistan and its Inter-Services Intelligence as their Enemy No 1. And the vengeful terror groups have trained all their guns against Pakistani security forces and sensitive installations and so far have been quite successful.
In a new attack, Taliban militants armed with rockets and explosives stormed a major naval airbase in Karachi on Sunday night and killed 13 personnel and destroyed two US-made surveillance aircraft. The gunbattle between the 30 militants and the Pakistan Navy continued for almost 13 hours.
Talking to the media, Pakistan Navy spokesman Commodore Irfanul Haq said, "They were equipped with sophisticated weapons and one P-3C Orion, a maritime patrol aircraft, had been destroyed."
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Image: A plume of smoke rises from the Mehran naval aviation base after it was attacked by militants in Karachi
Can Taliban attack anywhere, anytime in Pak?
The Karachi attack is a message for Pakistani security forces that the Taliban could strike anywhere and anytime. The Taliban's strikes have made Pakistan's common man insecure as the militants are targeting even the main cities.
Condemning the attack on the naval base, Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani said, "Such a cowardly act of terror could not deter the commitment of the government and people of Pakistan to fight terrorism. Pakistani forces would take decisive action against the enemies."Contrary to the premier, Pakistan Interior Minister Rehman Malik seemed worried. "It is not just an attack on a navy establishment, it's an attack on Pakistan. The sympathisers of the Al Qaeda and Taliban should join hands with the government to save our country."
Image: Paramilitary forces leave the Mehran naval aviation base after troops ended operations against militants in Karachi
Taliban feels ISI is exploiting it
Prior to Osama's death, Taliban commanders like Mullah Nazir of South Waziristan and Hafiz Gul Bahadur from North Waziristan were against attacking Pakistani forces and their focus was on Afghanistan, but the May 2 incident has made them to review their strategies.
This faction may join hands with Tehrik-e-Taliban if Pakistan acting on US advice starts any military operation against the Haqqani Network in north Waziristan. They will then declare an open war with Pakistani security forces, say sources from Taliban.
Image: The media gathered at the gates of the Mehran naval aviation base
'Vengeful Taliban may be difficult to counter'
Syed Saleem Shahzad, Pakistan bureau chief, Asia Times Online, said, "It is a security lapse and the more alarming is that insiders from the Navy base helped the militants to attack. It is 100 per cent carried out by the insiders who are affiliated to the Al Qaeda."
It is revealed that insiders were also involved in the April attack on a Pakistan Navy bus, which killed Karachi. That attack claimed the lives of four personnel of the Pakistan Navy, one civilian and also injured nine others.
When contacted, Brigadier (retired) Mehmood Shah, former secretary of tribal areas and a defence analyst, said, "The Taliban are the foot soldiers of the Al Qaeda and they are avenging the killing of OBL from Pakistan. Such attacks are difficult to be countered as it is now happening all around the country, not at a particular place."
Image: Policemen pass through the gates of the Mehran naval aviation base