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Wary Pakistan moves warships away from Karachi

Last updated on: August 5, 2011 14:10 IST

Wary Pakistan moves warships away from Karachi

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Facing an "all-time high" security threat, Pakistani Navy, which witnessed a major terror attack on its Mehran airbase in May, has sent its main battleships away from Karachi to another port in Ormara in southwest Balochistan province, a media report said on Friday.

The navy sent its warships away from the main base in Karachi as a "precautionary measure" after the 16-hour siege of PNS Mehran airbase on May 22, The Express Tribune reported on Friday, quoting navy sources.

The commando-style gun and rocket-propelled grenade attacks on Mehran had resulted in the destruction of two P3C Orion airplanes -- which were key naval assets -- and killing of 10 security personnel.

Since that terrorist attack, battleships have been stationed in Ormara, navy sources said.

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According to one person familiar with the matter, the navy chief ordered the immediate movement of an entire fleet after the PNS Mehran attack "keeping in view the all-time high security threats, which continue to loom even today," the report said.

The May 22 base attack had occurred just weeks after three navy buses were bombed in the city on April 26 and April 28.

However, another senior unnamed navy official was quoted as saying that not an entire fleet, but "definitely quite a few" warships had to be moved to Ormara for security reasons after the attack.

Despite the movement, Karachi remains secure since there are other naval assets in place guarding the city, he said.



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A Pakistan Navy spokesperson declined to comment and said that the navy does not comment on "operational details."

Interestingly, senior retired navy and air force officials welcomed the move and termed the navy chief's decision as "pragmatic" and "positive", the report said.

Retired Vice Admiral Tanvir Ahmed said that one of the golden rules in warfare, especially when facing a threat from an unknown enemy, is to disperse your assets in as many bases as you can.

"Never put all your eggs in one basket," he said.



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Ahmed said it would be wrong to portray that the navy felt so threatened by four terrorists that it had to move away its warships from their main harbour in Karachi. "It's not a question of fear, but a matter of tactic," he said.

Retired Vice Admiral Javed Iqbal said there is another important benefit of the move: "Unlike many navy bases in Karachi, such as Mehran, that are in the centre of residential areas, Ormara is a far off base," he said, adding that any terrorist there would be spotted from miles away.

He said the movement of ships to Ormara would give "strategic depth" and better defence positions to the navy. He also rejected the notion that the fear factor may have played a major role in the decision. "I've been a commando myself and I can tell you this is a brilliant tactical move."



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