It is not entirely accurate to state that the attack on Karachi Airport has ‘exposed’ severe vulnerabilities or flaws. Exposure, as a prerequisite, demands concealment. The ineptness of the entire system is a well-established fact for a while now. If tragedies and the state’s inevitable failure to cope with them still surprise or shock us, it only proves that we are out of sync with our reality. If they can buy faulty security equipment and risk people’s lives just for profits, destroy state-institutions through nepotism and unwarranted interference, collude with militants to gain political advantage, then is it really unthinkable for them to botch a rescue operation? Those who do it wrong all year long cannot be expected to get it right on the worst of days. They have neither disappointed nor surpassed expectations. But, of course, that doesn’t in any way mean that they should be allowed to escape accountability. It is precisely because they always get away with murder that people continue to fall victims to callousness and criminal negligence, and nothing ever changes.

Who will take responsibility for the deaths of the seven men inside the cold-storage facility at the Karachi Airport? The victims had been calling family and friends from inside the facility and asking for help. The building was on fire and filling up with smoke. Why then did no rescue efforts begin until after 11 pm and only when the media highlighted the issue? Were the authorities going to let these men die without even attempting to save them? They died anyway, as it took 28 hours for the entire state machinery to break into the facility and get them out.

Firstly, why did the DG Rangers declare the entire area to have been “cleared” at 2 pm when clearly it wasn’t the case? Was he unaware that there were people still inside the cold-storage facility? If so, then were the relevant authorities informed so that rescue efforts could commence right away?

Secondly, what role did the Civil Aviation Authority play during the entire fiasco? According to reports, the airport had been handed over to CAA after the announcement by DG Rangers. From then (2 pm) till night (9 pm) when media started to make noise, what stopped the CAA personnel from inspecting the site and taking steps accordingly? If the situation was too difficult for them to deal with, who did they contact for assistance?

Lastly, why did the Sindh government not take responsibility? Even if airport security and the CAA fall under the domain of the federal government, why did it not come forward to provide rescuers and heavy machinery?

Surely, it was part of someone’s job to save the victims. That means someone failed miserably. The matter must be investigated. Heads must roll. No one should be spared.