A new dimension of suicide terrorism

6 04 2009

A new dimension of suicide terrorism

M Abdul Vasiq Eqbal

After the successful escape of the Liberty Square attackers it was being assumed that Lahore has to face another attack in the same way, but right in the nursery of protectors was unexpected. Around 900 trainees and staff personnel were there when the “Suicide Attack” was launched. This brazen attack has given totally new dimension to the phenomenon of suicide terrorism. High value targets are no more accessible through the single perpetrator as they cannot penetrate within the security establishments blocked by barriers and security checks. Ramming vehicles is also not a worthy solution to this as it can damage the building infrastructure and that’s it. Police Training School was a “gold mine” of security personnel which were not even completely trained. Assailants were clearly ordered to kill themselves before getting caught; and out of one dozen four blew themselves up. However, two of them have been apprehended and rest of them managed to runaway in the police uniforms. They were aware that their target is place of no-return, reinforcements would be called up and even if they would use hostages to get an escape way, they would be chased till their den, still they came and did what they were indoctrinated to do. But why Police Academy was targeted? Question to this answer is that academy was located at the outskirts of the city neighbouring Manawan viallage, an urban locality just few miles away from the border line of India. Police training school is located in a city which is strategically very important and historical as well, this was the mightiest reason for the perpetrators to encircle the police training school on the map. Other reasons could be “pre-gauged” inadequate security measures and densely populated area which could provide them hindrance or easy escape way. Despite the current security situation and given warnings of Corps Commander Lahore, nothing was done to preempt the attacks. We are well aware of the ill-equipdness, inadequate training and limited resources of the police. With this kind of infrastructure they cannot maintain the law and order in the country but can just exist. Condition of the attacked police school, especially the rear side of the building clearly demonstrated the capability of police to face such kind of incidents, through the media. There were some reports in the media that according to post-event accounts of some eye-witnesses, assailants had also taken control of the arms store inside and due to that, security guards at the main gate ran out of bullets and could not resist for long. Albeit the precious lives of the policemen had been lost and number of them wounded and traumatized, Eight hours long battle is too short which has resulted in the capturing of two perpetrators which is enough to tail the storming brain. But on the contrary it is too long if the time was consumed to take the help of other security agencies through the systematic rules of engagement. Coordination of all the four agencies was praised in the media, but unfortunately one thing was neglected. If calling up army was the ultimate solution then why rangers and elite groups were mobilized to the location?

Displacement of entire security structure could have provided another and open battlefield to the “unseen” hand. If rangers were their just to cordon off the area, then I think our police can do this at least. Elite members were waving their weapons on the rooftop of the building after capturing the lost castle, the way they were moving in and out around the area, their body language was depicting the level of their training and the way they were raised up from within the existing police structure. Regular police personnel were also there, on the same scene but their inability to retaliate quickly and wisely, on such kind of assaults were in their demeanor. Do we have any contingency plan to face such kind of situation? Pakistani security forces are being attacked since Pakistan started the operation against al-Qaeda and Taliban in FATA, Swat and Waziristan. Police, the first defence line of civilian and government infrastructure has suffered the most in the country and particularly in Lahore, suicide attack at Lahore high court, another attack in front of Allama Iqbal town police station and recently on the Sri Lankan cricket team were the examples to hit the civilian security agency. A unified contingency plan for all the security agencies should be defined regardless of their type and style of working, whether they are from civilian or military setup. A well-established line of communication and chain of command that who will assist who, when, where, how and through what? A worst case scenario should be constituted to manage such kind ofhappenings. We are still onboard and the ship of war against terrorism is facing storm of Taliban but we cannot rule out our other rivals. Enemy of my enemy is my friend, quote goes with the time we are living in. Pre-defined set of rules, applicable anywhere in the country will provide basic platform to minimize the response and rescue time. It would decrease the damage and increase the chances of success simultaneously. The sooner the formation, the greater the fruitfulness, “a stitch in time saves nine”.

The author can be reached at: vasiq.eqbal@gmail.com

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