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GHQ attack

Dawn Editorial
Sunday, 11 Oct, 2009
As assaults go, they don’t come more audacious than this. Attacking the army’s headquarters in Rawalpindi — an assault that entailed the taking of several hostages by militants and that was continuing late into the night — sends a signal that the Taliban are alive and kicking and will not go down without a fight. But is this attack, in which there have been fatalities both among the militants and the military personnel, a statement of intent or a sign of desperation? Are the militants flexing their muscles from a position of strength or lashing out like rabid animals trapped in a corner? Not even the most optimistic of militants could have hoped that the assailants would be able to enter the GHQ itself and carry out a precision attack without being liquidated in the process.The attack on the GHQ appears to be a symbolic gesture aimed at demoralising the people of Pakistan who have wholeheartedly thrown their weight behind the battle against militancy and obscurantism. The message is this: if the army headquarters is vulnerable, no one is safe. Even so, considering the developments, perhaps it will be some time before it is clear whether the attack was one born out of desperation or meticulously planned.

Whatever the case, the need to improve security and intelligence systems cannot be overstated. Unlike the bomb blast in Peshawar on Friday, the GHQ attack bears all the hallmarks of the Taliban, who have traditionally targeted symbols of the state, westerners, NGOs and members of the Shia community.

In Rawalpindi, civilians at large do not appear to have been the intended targets, although there are reports of some being taken hostage. The gunmen took on security personnel, just as their kind did in attacks on police training centres in Lahore and Mingora. According to the ISPR, the information wing of the armed forces, the TTP orchestrated the GHQ attack. More attacks may be forthcoming in the weeks to come, and the state must be in a position to nip such assaults in the bud.

It is clear that the Taliban and their affiliates are feeling the pressure of the military offensive and a national consensus in favour of the ongoing operation in the northwest. They are getting desperate, which is all the more reason why they should be hit hard as soon as possible with all the force the state can muster. The Taliban’s supporters in the political arena are few and far between, and they stand discredited. Pakistan’s citizenry, though anti-American in large part, appears to be overwhelmingly anti-Taliban as well. The time is right for an all-out assault on militancy.

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Vision 21 is Pakistan based non-profit, non- party Socio-Political organisation. We work through research and advocacy for developing and improving Human Capital, by focusing on Poverty and Misery Alleviation, Rights Awareness, Human Dignity, Women empowerment and Justice as a right and obligation. We act to promote and actively seek Human well-being and happiness by working side by side with the deprived and have-nots.

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