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Sunday, June 12, 2011

Pakistan’s Defense Needs Protection! Own Policies Make Defense Establishment Insecure!

By Aijaz Ahmed
Military Headquarters around the world are considered to be the symbol of their military might.  These power centers particularly in societies like ours, which remains in search of strategic depth and happens to be the ‘security state’, becomes more significant as it plays the role of the saviors as well as masters of the all policies. The bloody civilians whenever put in the power remain subservient to the military leadership be it is Pakistan, Thailand, Egypt or any other such state.

Pakistan has further significance and unique situation from its inception, because from the day one it entangled in war like situation with India, and for last thirty years it has been searching strategic depth in its West, thus a nexus has developed between the military Establishment and the civilian jihadi brigades in the name of Afghan Jihad, and war in the name of Kashmir, with the GHQ becoming a source of inspiration and support for such outfits taking the role of a policy framer, which normally is the domain of the elected parliament.

Also the nexus, developed between the jihadis, a section of politicians, traders and industrialists, demanded more orthodox approach for the security of the military installations and headquarters of the corps, the air force, the navy and the intelligence establishments and their buildings have been put on stake.
Terrorists attacked GHQ in the center of large city, Rawalpindi in October, 2009
The brazen attacks on GHQ in Rawalpindi in 2009 and PNS Mehran in Karachi recently in which senior and very efficient officers were killed and two PC-3 Orion aircrafts were completely destroyed have exposed how our military installations and the whole security apparatus is vulnerable. The lately developed nexus between the builders’ mafia and the commercialism in the forces has made these installations more vulnerable and further endangered them.

If one visits the area around the GHQ, he will encounter very busy markets in a radius of just one kilometer around the military headquarters. High-rise buildings are an added phenomenon around the GHQ. The next important place in military terms is ISI headquarters in Islamabad; it is situated on the busiest road of Islamabad near Aabpara. Again it is next to a high-rise building belonging to an Islamic organization, and also exposed to the certain tall buildings of blue area just in the radius of one kilometer. Naval headquarters in Islamabad was also situated at melody up till few years back, but fortunately was shifted towards Margalla Hills and thus maintaining security is bit easier.

Situation in other cities is also not different; a tall commercial plaza is built in front of Corps Commanders House in Lahore. As far as Karachi is concerned, either deliberate or an innocent mistake has been made especially at Shahrah e Faisal. Overheads have been built to ease out traffic, but all overheads have exposed very sensitive installations including the PNS Mehran.
Courtesy, STRATFOR
In addition, all cantonments at Karachi, Lahore, Rawalpindi, Quetta, Bahawalpur, Multan and other major cities are surrounded by civilian and thickly populated localities. It is noteworthy that the Lahore Cantonment was built during the British rule and at that time it was 15 miles away from the walled city.  

In the modern day world technological advancement has made such buildings of very high significance just one hand away from the terrorist organizations, says Munir Baloch, senior writer and analyst. These buildings and military installations are under serious threat and thus emergency steps are needed to shift them at secure place, he added.

It is to remind that the Ayub Khan Government planned sifting of GHQ at Sector D-11 and E-10. The first Bhutto government marked 2400 acres of land at D-11 and 870 acres at E-10 and an initial report was prepared in 1987 to construct GHQ, JSHQ, and defense Ministry at the marked land. This project also included construction of residence, schools and other facilities for 17,000 employees of these organizations.

General Musharraf in 2004 planed to start construction of proposed buildings and facilities which was to be completed in 2007, but civil society, political parties including PPP, PMLN, ANP, MMA and MQM raised strong voice against this project in view of the financial crisis, thus the project was delayed and lately was cancelled by General Kayani.

Similarly Admiral Yastoor ul Haq planned to build a naval port at Ormara Balochistan, as present Karachi port and Port Qasim are exposed to commercial traffic and are adjacent to the city of Karachi. The project was delayed due to unknown reasons. In 2007, Pak Navy made a request to Balochistan government for purchase of 11,000 acres of land in Koh e Imam near Turbat airport, acting on which the provincial government through its order No 14/LU-2007, 10,095 acres of land was handed over to the Navy. Another 2500 acres of land was also acquired in Tehsil Dasht of District Kaich against relatively high price, but still navy is anchored around Shahrah e Faisal and Karsaz.

The situation Pakistan is passing through and in view of the war on terror, the sensitive military and intelligence installations need to be shifted to safer places away from population centers. This will also help in reducing threats to the civilian population around them at present.

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