Karachi disaster – 19 Feb 2023

The audacious attack on the Office of Karachi Police Chief is a serious security lapse

The audacious attack on the Office of Karachi Police Chief is a serious security lapse. It reminds us that the terror fissure is still simmering, and no substantial and decisive action has been taken to exterminate not only the hardcore cadre of terrorists, who seem to be at large countrywide, but also their abettors who are apparently safe and camouflaged in the republic. Friday’s attack on the highly-sensitive police office located on a major thoroughfare of the country’s biggest metropolitan city, and the fact that only three terrorists managed to get it to the heavily-guarded complex and operate from there for hours is a complete meltdown of security barriers. Such a terrorist activity is certainly not possible either without some black sheep in the city administration or a well-knitted plan to disturb the uneasy peace of the city of 25 million souls. This has to be closely probed not only by the government but also the civil society, who have been unrelentingly on the receiving end for decades.

This latest breach of security, in fact, came as a déjà vu for Karachiites. It reminds them of the 2011 PNS Mehran and the 2014 Jinnah Airport attacks, wherein the entire state force fought a bunch of intruders for day and night, with the only consolation of launching operation Zarb-e-Azb against militants in June 2014. The Karachi Police office disaster too demands replicating a similar mopping operation. It is too easy to get away with just saying that the impugned Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has claimed responsibility for the attack. The unanswered question is that the TTP had been there for many such attacks over the last many years, including the gruesome Army Public School attack in December 2014 as well as the latest bloodshed in a Police Civil Lines mosque in Peshawar. The point, again, to be pondered is that the militia is targeting state-manned installations, and is free to choose its timing and place. That they appear to strike at will wherever and whenever they want goes without saying. This is where we have blinked collectively, and must put our house in order to check this renewed terror wave.

The post-attack ripples will take some time to normalise. The need of the hour is to pull life back to normalcy, as Karachi is not only the growth engine of Pakistan but these days is also host to PSL cricket bonanza — an entertainment that is hard to find for a city that for long had been mired in chaos and instability. It’s, however, a matter of satisfaction that the cricket league, being participated in by a host of foreign players and officials, continues undisturbed. Let’s put all puzzles of mind together and get down to the logical end as to why terror is resurfacing almost all across the country, and what is lacking at our civil and military ends. The Karachi attack must come as an honest appraisal of our weaknesses, and plough them out without any petty political considerations. Enough of compromises at the altar of people’s security.

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