The jailbreak at the Dera Ismail Khan Central Jail is one of the most violent in recent times, with no less than 40 blasts, 12 people killed, including six staff members. It is not clear how many militants got away, not only has the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility, but 250 prisoners have been reported as having escaped. It is also not clear how many members of banned outfits, who are about 250 in a total jail population of 5000, were among them. However, apart from that, Dera Ismail Khan is close to the Waziristan agencies, where the TTP is based, and prisoners from there are sent to Dera Ismail Khan as the nearest Central Jail. The jailbreak is no isolated incident. There was an attack on the Central Jail Bannu last April, in which one of the attackers of President Pervez Musharraf was helped to escape. The attack was preceded by a large number of explosions in the prison, and was launched by 60 militants, who fired heavy machineguns and rocket-propelled grenades. The prison break comes after Al-Qaeda militants managed a prison break in the notorious Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad, apart from another in Benghazi, and the one in Kandahar in 2011.
Thee Pakistani authorities have clearly and spectacularly failed in fulfilling their responsibilities, as evidenced by the events in Dera Ismail Khan. Prisons, supposed to be controlled spaces, are made ineffective by the venality of jailers. In exchange for bribed, these persons make it possible for prisoners to enjoy every facility. It cannot be ignored that the prison break comes after a crackdown on prisoners having mobile phones. If the jailers are corrupt enough to take bribes for mobiles, they cannot escape suspicion of taking money to look the other way while the explosives were smuggled in.
The break is basically a failure of intelligence. The agencies failed to find out that such an attempt was going to be made. It is flabbergasting for the common man to see that even an operation of this huge a scale, was conducted without knowledge of the agencies, and has left them humiliated, once again.
This is also the first major test of the PTI provincial government, under whose jurisdiction the D.I. Khan prisons fall, and which therefore is primarily responsible for the working of the jail machinery.
It should be noted that while the jail break does not represent the growing boldness of the ordinary criminal, but is part of a well orchestrated, armed effort to hollow the Pakistani state from within, and establish a militant, sectarian setup. The tragedy is that there may be an enquiry, but the country has already braced itself for a repetition, knowing full well the blank pages that inhabit the structural imperatives of the Pakistani intelligence agencies' mechanisms and government's nonexistent policies on dealing with terrorism. News from Pakistan every day contains such incidents, of a state under attacks. The question now is, when will the state push back? How much longer will this go on without a plan to fight back -- and win?