ISLAMABAD – While the revisiting of terrorism at a Pakistan Air Force (PAF) installation in Kamra in less than three years points to PAF’s apathy to draw lessons from a previous horrifying experience, it also raises several pertinent questions which, those at the helm of affairs, do not like to answer.

Thursday’s attack at PAF Minhas Base in Kamra that left its Base Commander Air Commodore Muhammad Azam injured, Sepoy Muhammad Asif martyred and all the nine attackers dead, is seen as yet another stark instance of a security lapse on the part of PAF after terrorist attacks at General Headquarters (GHQ), Mehran Naval Base, and Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC), Kamra saw the losses of several precious lives in previous years.

Still, Minister for Defence Syed Naveed Qamar did not agree with the reports that the Thursday incident was a security lapse. Instead, he believed, the ‘vigilant’ PAF men had ‘thwarted’ what he described as a major terrorist attempt.

In response to a set of straight questions posed by this scribe pertaining to repeated attacks on Pakistan’s security installations coupled with Armed Forces visible failure to ensure foolproof security despite hefty increase in defence budget, the Defence Minister mostly evaded the answers.

“Thanks God our security installations remained safe. There was no security lapse as only one PAF man embraced martyrdom. A major terrorist attempt was thwarted.”

This newspaper asked again, “What has gone wrong with Pakistan’s defence set up despite hefty increase in defence budgets each year? Why these incidents happen after every few months? Who is behind all this? Is this a fallout of Pakistan’s reported decision to go for North Waziristan operation as Imran Khan believes? Is there any threat to Pakistan’s nuclear installations from terrorists as argued by many?.”

The Minister replied, “let us wait for the completion of PAF-led probe. A detailed inquiry is underway. The TTP has claimed responsibility for the incident. They can better tell why they did such a heinous act.”

The Minister’s claim that security installations remained safe during Minhas Base attack stood negated by a PAF statement itself that confirmed that an aircraft was damaged during Thursday’s attack. When confronted on this, Qamar said, “This wasn’t any significant loss any way.”

Naveed Qamar came down hard on Imran Khan over his statement that terrorist attack on Minhas Base could be a fallout of reports suggestive to Pakistan’s decision to launch NWA action.

“This is very unfortunate that some politicians are pursuing petty political interests at the cost of national issues. Imran has played it dirty. Without any verification or interrogation, how can anybody be fool enough as Imran Khan to utter such a nonsensical articulation?.”

He urged all the politicians and political parties to show some ‘sense of responsibility’ during an event which he described as a ‘national tragedy’.

“It’s a national tragedy. This man (Imran Khan) should have thought well before speaking. Such statements have very negative strategic implications. It’s high time, all the politicians and political parties showed some sense of responsibility instead of pursuing petty personal or politically motivated interests, “he added.

Informed officials said, after October 2009 attack at PAC Kamra, strict security measures were adopted at the PAF installations. But in May 2011, soon after Abbottabad action, the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) first intimated the Air Intelligence that Minhas Base and Kalabagh Base in Abbottabad were vulnerable to terrorist attack.

Reportedly, in December 2011, the ISI sent another high security alert to the Air Intelligence pointing that security measures in the said two bases were not upto the mark. Following this, Director General Air Intelligence Air Vice Marshal Hafeezullah had reportedly informed the then Air Chief Rao Qamar Suleman about particular security threats to the two PAF bases but no significant security arrangements to respond to the given situation were made.

Reportedly, the PAF command was ‘satisfied’ with what it believed were the stringent security measures taken after 2009 PAC attack. The latest security update on a potential terrorist threat on Minhas Base was shared by Pakistan’s premier intelligence agency with the Air Intelligence on August 10, 2012, security officials said.