The Kamra revelation

The attack on the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex, Kamra, on August 16 was a rude reminder to Pakistan and the world that the spectre of terrorism will not leave the country easily. Although the security staff managed to overcome the nine intruders, these terrorists managed to do partial damage to one of the US-supplied airborne early-warning aircraft parked there. Journalist Aamir Rana said the attack was a result of the regrouping of the Haqqani network, al-Qaeda and the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan. However, he also assessed that this operation was a few notches less successful than what these terrorists did earlier. It was less "thrilling", for instance, than the PNS Mehran attack in 2011, when 15 terrorists penetrated the naval facility and managed to damage the US-supplied P-3C Orion aircraft.

Even if the intensity of the Kamra attack was lower, it is clear that the terrorists have retained their capacity to hit hard military targets. Kamra alone has been targeted four times, not to forget the attack on the army GHQ in 2009, when terrorists came close to holding some members of the army high command hostage. Nonetheless, the military has shied away from calling this an intelligence failure. A series of television discussions was dedicated to presenting the event as an example of military preparedness. The reality is that the military intelligence was caught with its pants down, since it had been warned of an attack by the Punjab police intelligence. Columnist Farrukh Saleem's hunch is that the base was under observation by the terrorists for at least a couple of months before the actual attack.

Official sources are claiming that this is the handiwork of the Qari Yasin group, which is connected to Ilyas Kashmiri's Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami. It is also believed that these attackers had been away from home for the past two months and were trained in a camp in Kunar, Afghanistan. So this may eventually boil down to cross-border activity. However, the latest reports on the capture of the attack's mastermind show that the manpower was Pakistani. Suspects were picked up from Multan, Lahore, Taxila and Kasur all in Punjab. The Kamra attack, in fact, is a reminder of the involvement of air force personnel in an attack on former president and army chief Pervez Musharraf in 2004. Although those apprehended for the attack were junior officers, investigators claim that the level of penetration of militant groups in the air force was chilling. Some people link the Kamra attack with the rescue of the air force personnel involved in the attack on Musharraf by the Taliban through a jail break in Bannu in May this year.

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