Terror struck once again at the heart of Baluchistan. 61 police cadets including one military captain embraced martyrdom and almost 117 were injured when the Police Training Centre in Quetta was attack last night by “unknown” terrorists. According to eye witness reports, the terrorists struck around 930 pm when the cadets had gone to sleep. 3-5 terrorists stormed the watch tower of the academy which was manned by only 1 guard who did not have appropriate weapons to respond to the initial attack, as a result the guard had to abandon his post. This allowed the terrorists to storm the academy and carry out a free run massacre of “unarmed” cadets who were not even supposed to be in the academy as all of them had passed out and gone to their homes 2 days ago, but for some unknown reason these cadets were called back to the academy.
Some of the police cadets showed presence of mind and barricaded themselves inside their rooms, although they were fully trained cadets but they were unarmed and the lack of weapons made them sitting ducks for the terrorists. Over 300 cadets were present in the academy and 60 of those cadets were massacred while 117 were injured. By the time SSG units arrived, the terrorists had already taken control of the building therefore the SSG units had to be airdropped. SSG did what they do best, had a good hunting session as they combed through the building and rescued the survivors.
This however is only one side of the story, there are many factors, loopholes and unanswered questions which need to be considered here.
Timing of the attack:
Anyone who knows anything about modern politics and militancy knows that one of the key factor behind almost every act of terrorism is its timing. Terrorism unfortunately in modern scenario is also used as a diversionary tactic. It has been observed over the years across the world and also in Pakistan that terrorists strike with precision timing. In 2014 when the anti-government protests were in full swing, the Wagah border attack took place which killed dozens of people and then when Imran Khan locked down Lahore, the very next day less than 10 hours later APS massacre happened which brought an end to the anti government protests. In August 2016 when Dr. Qadri initiated the first phase of his Qisas movement, a day later Quetta was struck yet again with a deadly twin attack which claimed the lives of over 80 people and yesterday when Dr.Qadri announced his support for the Islamabad lockdown against the government, once again only a couple of hours later the police academy in Quetta was attacked.
These attacks help swing the momentum away from anti government forces in favor of the government. In addition to reducing the momentum, these attacks also serve as appropriate warning to the anti government leaders, warning that they or their supporters may face a similar face. We saw in 2007 when Benazir Bhutto returned to Pakistan to launch her political movement, her public gathering in Karachi was struck with twin bombings which claimed the lives of over 100 people and later that year in December she was assassinated.
So the timing of this attack was critical, it remains to be seen who benefited from this attack, so far the anti government leaders appear unshaken as they are convinced that the government is using diversionary tactics to stall the Islamabad lockdown.
Lack of security detail:
The above picture shows a google maps image of the police academy which was attacked. It is situated on Saryab road in Quetta which has multiple check posts as this road has been targeted numerous times in the past. Most of the important installations of Quetta are around Saryab road. The police academy is situated south of Quetta and although it is not clear in the image, there actually is no boundary wall on the northern side of the academy. There is only one check post on the entrance and the entire academy is simply exposed to everyone. The terrorists really could not have chosen an easier target. They had no boundary walls to scale, no CCTV cameras to avoid, no manned guards or watchtowers to be aware of. They simply had to march straight into the building which lying totally exposed.
The lack of security detail is appalling and it is reminiscent of what happened in the APS massacre. The Army public school had a routine security detail of over 22 guards around the outer boundary, but on the day of attack there were only 7 guards on duty. Who called the guards off? We`ll never know. Similarly why, in spite of clear intel the policy academy was not given enough security?
Furthermore, who called the passed out recruits back to the academy? In tv interviews, the surviving cadets are asking only 1 question, they had gone back to their homes after passing out, then who made the decision to call them back to the academy and why? Well the “why” part is clear, they were apparently called back to be turned into sitting ducks for the terrorists.
What could have been the possible reasons for this attack? The anti government leaders are claiming that this attack was done to stall the protests and intimidate the protesters. The government is claiming that the attack was done to make Pakistan appear as a failed state and to give the impression that the NAP has failed. Apart from this the attack could have been directed to create threats for the CPEC or perhaps the planners had all of these reasons in mind, in this case once again they could not have found an easier target.
The government reaction after the attack was the usual. Prime Minister and officials came to Quetta, met the injured survivors, had a photo session, revisited their resolve to fight against terrorism and declared the attackers as cowards. Nothing substantial as usual came out of this whole exercise which is getting futile now. As the political officials left Quetta, the administration of Quetta failed to arrange ambulances to carry the 61 martyrs, why? because the admin of provincial capital did not have enough resources, they did not have enough ambulances to transport the corpses back to their homes. As a result the corpses were transported over contract vans and private vehicles.
Quetta which has been for over a decade on the front of the war on terror, is still so neglected that they do not even have enough ambulances to transported the martyred cadets.
Alas, the fathers will bury their sons while their mothers mourn over them. The vicious cycle will continue and who knows when the next attack may happen. Operation Zarb e Azb which was once a successful operation, is now being converted into a failure because none of the planners, financiers and handlers were arrested or executed. Why? Only time will tell, but as long as the puppet masters are free they`ll keep on playing this game of blood and fire and the masses will keep on bleeding slowly.
If there is clear RAW/NDS footprint, then why don`t we ever do anything to expose them on international level? Our Prime Minster has not even once mentioned Kalbushan Yadav, the Indian spy who was caught on duty undercover and the record of his phone calls was traced from the factory of the ruling family. These questions should be answered, but they probably will never be.