The recent attack on the Karachi naval dockyard exposes how our military has been infiltrated by extremist ideology of the Al Qaeda brand. While Zarb-e-Azb seems like a golden victory horse with unimaginable numbers of “militants” killed if one is to believe ISPR announcements, we have this fiasco, with navy officials turning on the navy itself in the name of Islam. This would be the first attack claimed by the terror network’s new wing, whose creation was announced by chief Ayman Al-Zawahiri last week.
Operations like Zarb-e-azb will in all probability fail, because one can’t really fight fire with fire. The Taliban can survive air strikes and bombings, but they cannot survive without support from people. Sadly, there are a substantial number of people in Pakistan, from all classes and professions, who believe in the Taliban philosophy. With the revelation that the dockyards attack was an inside job, it should be clear to us that our society, and not just parts of the military, has been Talibanised. The Taliban enforce this thinking with weapons. It’s just that not everyone picks up weapons, yet have the same theological holdings. There is no debate between our ulema and the Taliban. Those who had difference of opinion, like Ghamidi and Khalid Zaheer, had to leave the country for fear of their life. It remains to be seen what will happen to Qadri once his position at the centre of Pakistani politics weakens.
If highly trained Naval personnel can join ranks with the Taliban, then there is a bigger problem that the nation has to deal with. What made the high level Navy officers susceptible to such infiltration? Is it lack of active warfare engagement, or a lack of teaching of more secular values like nationalism? Is it just the Navy or do we have more surprises in store for us? Initial screening for commission in Pakistan Army, Navy and the Air Force was being done by the police during 1950s. Today the same system must be in use, and with how threadbare our law enforcement agencies are, they are desperate for recruits. The process of promotion and training is also highly politicised, and allows criminals into their ranks. We need better screening and better intelligence. The army and navy need a serious debriefing and re-education. It is already under scrutiny for its awkward role in the Azadi/Inqalabi drama, and now its seems, inefficient at its real job.