The terrorist attack on the Minhas base at Kamra during the night of 27th of Ramazan revealed the hollowness of the propaganda of the Tehreek-i-Taliban (TTP), which has accepted responsibility, that it is in any way concerned with the interests of Pakistanis and the Pakistani state. These false prophets, sanctimonious and self-appointed, will not be forgiven, nor forgotten.  Especially since the TTP spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan has said, “We are proud of it.” The assault re-emphasises the threat Pakistan continues to face from the plague of militancy, as well as the gaping chasm between intelligence reports which even appeared in newspapers a few days ago and the ability of the guerrilla trained terrorists to gain not just proximity, but entry, into an airforce facility. At the same time, it is a matter of satisfaction and pride that the Pakistan Air Force, aided by the Army and the Police, put up a valiant defence and for that it deserves special commendation. The special commendation is not enough for us to do justice to the gratitude we feel for Sepoy Asif, who was the first to challenge the attackers, and laid down his life, before the reports of his gun alerted the rest of the defenders to the call of duty. Air Commodore Muhammad Azam, who led the defence, was injured. Nine TTP terrorists, including their commander, had been shot dead. According a private TV channel, one of the rockets fired by the attackers, who were armed with RPGs and automatic weapons, hit and inflicted light, but repairable damage to an I-L 78 cargo plane, although the militants’ real target was a spy plane. The report also says that three suspects have been taken into custody. A meeting chaired by Air Chief Air Marshal Tahir Rafique Butt decided to form an investigation committee. Any further existing loopholes in security must be identified immediately and plugged.

Apparently, the attack was not a reaction to the recent reports that Pakistan had agreed to launch a military operation in North Waziristan, as TTP’s spokesman said it had long been in planning. However, the terrorist raid lends support to opponents as well as supporters of armed action against the militants, whether in North Waziristan or elsewhere. The supporters would argue that the daring attempt at such a sensitive location reflects the growing courage and might of terrorists that could only be effectively addressed by the use of force. On the other hand, the opponents would maintain that the military operation would antagonise the whole of the tribal belt that contributes large numbers in defence of the western side of the border. Today brought the further depressing news of Pakistani travelers shot dead in Gilgit, after being dragged out of their bus and identified as Shia. Such barbarism on our soil, on our watch, is unacceptable. Be they Shia, Sunni, Chrstian, Hindu, Sikh or any other religion, Pakistanis stand together for each other. There is no doubt in our hearts. Now is the time we must join hands and protect each other, for those who would see us torn apart seem to be determined to do so.

The army chief’s prescient warning that the army on its own could not eliminate the menace of terrorism bears repeating. No matter how reluctant Pakistanis feelings towards the Afghan war, let there be no mistake that when Pakistan is attacked, be it Kamra, or be it the targeting of Shia travellers in Gilgit, Pakistan does not forget and will not forgive. We are one and we will persevere.