Close on the heels of the Pakistani Taliban’s biggest strike on the state security apparatus at Karachi airport which claimed 37 lives including terrorists after the militants laid siege, a second attack by three or four terrorists who set upon and attacked a security training facility near the same airport ended on Tuesday afternoon. The two strikes were a grim reminder of the massive security challenge from affiliates of al Qaeda holed up in the mountainous Pakistan-Afghanistan border terrain.
While the interior ministry said there were five deaths in the second strike and that there was fierce fighting, an Airport Security Forces spokesman said there were none. The attackers in the second strike escaped when they were fired upon. All flight operations at Karachi airport were suspended, passengers were evacuated and a Karachi-bound flight from Dubai was sent back. Significantly, the second attack came less than 24 hours after Pakistan launched air strikes on a militant-ridden tribal district. The attack has all but snuffed out a nascent peace process and raised questions about how the Taliban were able to penetrate the airport serving Pakistan’s economic hub.
While the successive strikes expose the futility of prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s dubious moves to negotiate peace with the Pakistani Taliban, it should be a cause of concern for New Delhi, which has invariably suffered from resurgence of the Taliban and other Muslim fundamentalists in the Af-Pak region. The recent attack on India’s consulate in Herat that was followed by kidnapping of an aid worker was a warning signal that India cannot ignore. The chinks in Pakistan’s armour also raise questions about the vulnerability of its nuclear weapons, despite all the claims that they are well-protected. This has direct implications for India and the world at large. Clearly, the Modi government has a job on its hands in ensuring that India’s security is not jeopardised. The intelligence apparatus must be considerably strengthened and contingency plans need to be at hand to guard against the possibility of the nuclear weapons falling into the wrong hands.