When the country’s most prestigious and globally highly rated spy agency that is supposed to be most heavily guarded becomes the target of repeated terrorist attacks there remains little doubt in anyone’s mind that these non-state actors can strike at will wherever they want and make a mockery of the writ of the state. Over the years, the militant outfits have given ample proof of their literally unlimited reach; they have made it a routine to carry out suicide bombings and shooting down both security personnel and ordinary people, more particularly in KPK and Balochistan. The damage so far would run into billions of rupees and loss of life into thousands.

The ISI have been struck several times. Last Wednesday, the agency’s office at Sukkur came under attack. As an explosive-laden vehicle exploded just outside the ISI’s office there, five gunmen appeared on the scene leading to an exchange of fire that resulted in the death of an intelligence agent, a government employee and four attackers. To recall, the terrorists struck at ISI’s headquarters at Lahore in May 2009; at Peshawar in November the same year; and at Multan about a month later, causing large-scale death and destruction. And to cap it all, they once stormed the GHQ inflicting a heavy loss of life.

Even former COAS and President Pervez Musharraf managed to escape being hit by the skin of his teeth, as his motorcade was passing through the most sensitive area of Rawalpindi. And at that time he was at the peak of his power. The common citizenry would naturally feel utterly exposed to the evil designs of these outlaws.

It would be an understatement to say that attacks on the bastions of military establishment are a matter of embarrassment to the army. Actually, they bring out its downright incompetence. After all, its intelligence wing is mandated to gather information in advance about such incidents when they are at the planning stage so that adequate measures could be taken to forestall them. Sadly and much to the suffering and misfortune of the people, ISI has been caught napping, and repeatedly, even protecting its own self, let alone guarding the common man who, it is a thousand pity, runs the fearful gauntlet so frequently.

The situation leaves no room for complacency. The agency must be overhauled and its shortcomings pinpointed in the national interest and to save the country from the spreading plague of terrorism.