The Peshawar Air Base Attack

Spearhead Analysis – 19.12.12

The Peshawer Air Base AttackAccording to the reports on the terrorist attack on the Peshawer Air Base the attackers had planned to ram an explosive laden vehicle to create a gap in the wall and then penetrate with two armed groups to destroy the aircraft and facilities on the base. This was the plan but unfortunately for them and fortunately for Pakistan the first vehicle blew up without creating a gap and the terrorists in that vehicle were blown up. Security forces reacted rapidly to kill three of the follow up people and arrested two in an injured condition. In a subsequent operation that led to a shootout in a nearby house the second group of terrorists was also eliminated. The attack was a failure and the defense was successful.

Quite rightly the emphasis is on the fact that the attack was repulsed but equally significant is the fact that the attack was attempted and that it came as a complete surprise. Uzbek origin terrorists are said to have been the perpetrators. This should not surprise anyone because Uzbeks have been involved in most of the earlier attacks on such facilities. Uzbeks are guns for hire and have sponsors who keep them around for use on a required basis. Some have married and are settled in Pakistan and have acquired identity documents. Some are in the North Waziristan area and carry out these missions to keep themselves relevant to those who have given them sanctuary. It goes without saying that Uzbeks are not the only ones in the Waziristan area and certainly not the only ones ready to attack within Pakistan. Uzbeks, because of their experience and training, have the expertise to plan and implement such attacks and their linkages with those across the western border and further north are well known.

As always after such events various theories are doing the rounds. One is that this was US inspired to force Pakistan to launch an operation into North Waziristan—a long standing US- Afghan government demand. Yet another is that it was to turn public opinion against North Waziristan—an off shoot of the first theory. Then is the idea that this was an Al Qaeda-TTP (Tehreek Taliban Pakistan) operation aimed at subverting the reconciliation process now slowly taking off. And finally there is the view that this was an externally sponsored attack and a retaliatory step for the assassination attempt on the Afghan Intelligence Chief (NDS) who is backed by both the US and India. Karzai had already said that in his view (and no doubt the view of the NDS and others) the assassination attempt was planned in Pakistan. Since then there has been agreement on a joint investigation but it is unlikely that Pakistan will be believed by those with preconceived ideas and fixated mind sets.

(Spearhead Analyses are the result of a collaborative effort and not attributable to a single individual)