A few minutes ago courtesy the twitter brigade and a few who live near the PAF base, I have just been informed of the fifth blast for today inside PNS Mehran on Shahrah e Faisal, one of the major arteries of Karachi city and still the drama continues. (23/05/2011 at 12.30am) . Read on to get a round up of the events till now.
If reports are to be believed, the base was being used to build certain P 3 Orion planes using US army help. These are highly sensitive and expensive planes that help detect fully submerged submarines at great depths and distances. These reports also state that parts of these planes had been brought in around 18 months ago and the area was known to be quite secure. One fully built plane was destroyed in the attack and tentative estimates reveal, that this has also left at least 5 people dead and numerous injured. Around 15 terrorists reportedly entered the area and so far 6 have been killed.
Televised images have been horrific indicating a state of siege with ambulances piling up in front of the gates within minutes of the first blast and being kept there due to the continuous firing going on inside. Hats off to the commandos who were sent in to fight amidst pitch darkness as the entire area has been cordoned off by police and rangers to limit the escape routes towards Dalmia cement factory aka Dalmia road and the link route via Karsaz road.
While the controversy theories abound it is interesting to note that most of the world has been interested in how the terrorists got in, in the first place and very few comment on what has been happening in there between the first group of blasts and the second. There was silence in between and then suddenly the firing restarted with people reporting yet another blast, making it the fifth in a series. The fact is that PNS Mehran covers a huge area and there are several dark spots where people could have gone right over the wall with none being any wiser. The bhains ka paara (cow and buffalo pen) and pipline / gutter / manholes theories are also coming in focus with a couple of ladders conveniently placed for the world to see. Why such a major operative did not remove the ladders immediately after, is anybody’s guess. Another theory suggests the guise of security personnel for the terrorists who just calmly walked in. Thats something indigestible. In a place where everyone knows the other – especially guards on duty, it is quite difficult to suppose someone just casually walking by unless the identity is not only known but the venture was a joint and collaborative one. Again, we can not possibly blame all and sundry fo this security lapse. Nothing in the world is foolproof, least of all security. Loyalties can be bought, places exchanged and tongues sealed.
As for the manner in which they reached the said area undetected and were not apprehended till the first rocket was fired, the clothes of the men, the tme of night and the fact that they were on foot is self explanatory when put together and highly believable. I have been in the vicinity several times and been stopped for security checks but then I was always in a car, whether day or night. The area is not a flat and barren land but has bushes and adequate vegetation to act as suitable hiding places. Reason suggests that this was not a one time operation but that a recce of the place had been conducted earlier to make this a possibility by outlining all the ways of getting to their target. Once over the wall, or through the pipeline etc, the gray / black clothing of the men in the dead of night in even a highly patrolled area could have easily gone undetected.
Media coverage lacks incisive and indepth analysis at this time which is not surprising given the current state of affairs and the number of breaking news reports over the past few hours. The International media picked up the thread one hour later than the Indian media which was quite an eyebrow raiser.
While speculations abound on every side, one can not help but feel for the people inside who are dealing with the mayhem on the ground. The bravado of ambulance drivers and volunteers also deserves a mention for being there for their duty at such a time while others sit in their cosy nooks and tweet about how Pakistan is a failed state, how Pakistan deserves all this and worse still how the Navy, Airforce and all armed forces had this coming to them. There is yet another bunch rejoicing that tommorow will be a holiday for educational institutes in the vicinity. Whither humanity?
This is the third incident in a month where the Pakistan Navy has been attacked. The firs two involved Naval buses and led to the deaths of innocent doctors. Healers became the victims and were treated at the same hospitals where they worked. Calling it irony would be an understatement.
The scene is of a battlefield and all the questioning in the world isnt helping
navy personnel at this moment. People are anxious to know exactly how, why ,
when this happened and when it will end. The answer to that can not be given
immediately. This is hardly a cricket match with all the details known. My
friend reports firing at the premises even now after 14 hours have passed since the first rocket was fired before 11 pm on 22 May 2011. Its an area with human lives who are and can be used as shields. The ones who have gone in with the terrorist agenda have taken in food and water to last them for 3 days. Only 14 hours have passed as yet. It will be a miracle if they can gas and get them out of there for who knows if they have also had the forethought of taking in gas masks. If they had rocket launchers to destroy the P 3 Orion planes then they could well have anything else as well.
As I write this, a part of Karachi is burning. Sirens are blaring and newscasters are struggling to keep up with the onslaught of news coming their way. Its enough to drive an action movie enthusiast mad, thinking movies have come alive. And this is real life.