The assault last night on Mehran Naval Air Base in Karachi that left at least a dozen soldiers dead and destroyed anti submarine/ marine surveillance aircraft is the strongest evidence to date that Pakistan is losing the battle against home grown militants. Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani described this latest attack by the Pakistani Taliban as a “cowardly act of terror”. While I certainly don’t condone the militants’ actions, as someone with 23 years military experience, I can say without reservation that last night’s raid was hardly cowardly. Unlike previous attacks, the Pakistani Taliban did not detonate a vehicle borne explosive device or take a few pot shots and run away. They staged a direct ground assault on a secure military installation. An operation of that nature takes supreme confidence, good organization and a healthy dose of fearlessness.
This is an extremely alarming development, especially given that Pakistan’s military installations have been on high alert since the assassination of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad earlier this month. Because if the country’s security forces can’t stop insurgents from penetrating a well-fortified military base, why should anyone believe they can defend the nation’s nuclear assets against terrorists? It is more important than ever now that we examine the goals and motives of Pakistan’s insurgent groups and how the pursuit and/or realization of those goals would impact western interests in the region. Continue reading