Pakistan: What’s next after attack on Karachi airport

Pakistani Taliban said the attack was in revenge for the killing of Hakimullah Mehsud and warned of more attacks. Would you say that the terrorists in Pakistan may target more relatively high profile targets in a near future or not, and why? Read few comments.

Shaun GregoryProfessor of International Security in the School of Government and International Affairs, Durham University

While there is a need to be cautious about the explanations the TTP and other Pak militant groups give for their actions (Hakimullah was killed on 1 Nov 2013, fully seven months ago), I think we have every reason to expect escalating terrorist attacks of this character in Pakistan.

As you are aware there are currently peace talks between the Pak Gov and TTP which – while formally suspended – are ongoing behind the scenes. I think therefore we are looking at two sets of issues: one is the break-away groups of the TTP which do not favour the Peace negotiations and are seeking to bring them to an end; the other and more important is the main TTP demonstrating to the Pak Gov and Army/ISI that it can strike at targets across Pakistan and that the state will pay a high price for continued military operations in the FATA/KPK. This strike may also be a warning to the state not to move into North Waziristan.

The reason I think these attacks will escalate is that over the past decade or so I have been tracking the evolution of terrorist modalities. They first were able to bring violence to the outside of major targets (such as airbases, etc), then they were able to attack perimeters (checkpoints, gates, etc), then they were able to penetrate bases – often using multiple entry points and often with good intelligence about the targets, and more recently they have been able to attack targets, penetrate bases, and hold space within them, often for many hours: examples would be the attack on the Pakistan Army GHQ in October 2009, the attack on the Mehran naval base in May 2011, the attack on the Kamra (Minhas) air force base in August 2012, and the attack on Bacha Khan International airport Peshawar on 15 Dec 2012.

Max Abrahms, Assistant Professor of Public Policy, Department of Political Science, Northeastern University

The Pakistani Taliban attacks both civilian and government targets. It has the capability to strike not only soft targets, but also hardened targets as well, such as at the airport. Since 2009, the TTP has been the second most lethal terrorist group in the world, after the Taliban and before Boko Haram. The TTP is escalating its terrorism for two main reasons. The first is to derail negotiations with the Pakistani government. The political message is that the government is not offering nearly enough concessions to the group and so the population and government will pay in blood. The second reason is to position itself for the US withdrawal from Afghanistan and gain support among regional extremists.

Marvin WeinbaumProfessor Emeritus of Political Science, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Scholar-in-Residence, Middle East Institute

The assault on the Karachi airport was less about revenge than an effort by those Taliban elements opposed to negotiations with the Pakistan government to demonstrate that they are capable of carrying out attacks against high profile targets anywhere in Pakistan, even high security areas. They have incentive to continue to mount attacks that are bound to scuttle any peace talks and will also show that they hold the upper hand among the Pakistani Taliban.

Sagarika DuttSenior Lecturer, Politics and International Relations, Nottingham Trent University

The Pakistani Taliban have, for some time now, become the arch enemy of the Pakistani state and government. They may well carry out more terrorist attacks as they are basically waging a war against the state. The peace talks have failed because the conditions are not right for holding peace talks. In any case, terrorist attacks have to be taken seriously and treated as a threat to national security, the same as anywhere else in the world. The Pakistani government and security forces are, therefore, well within their rights to crack down on this terrorist organisation.

Rizwan AsgharNuclear Security Expert and Defense analyst, PhD candidate, University of New Mexico

It was originally claimed that Karachi airport attack was an act of revenge for Hakimullah Mehsud’s killing but there is much more than meets the eyes. Many press reports have indicated that both TTP and Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan were involved in this attack on Karachi airport. This shows that the presence of foreign militants in our tribal areas is also emerging as a worrisome concern for our security establishment.

There is no doubt left that local and foreign militants based in North Waziristan have the capability to target high profile places anywhere in Pakistan. But the current government of Mian Nawaz Sharif seems to have absolutely no idea of the gravity of the situation. The ability of these militant organizations to spread destabilization will increase in the months to come if government does not take any decisive action against them.




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