According to Secretary Defense, our national security installations have been attacked 16 times since 2009, with losses running into billions, besides taking their toll on our capability, such as AWAC and PC3 aircraft etc. The British built cantonments on periphery of every major city, because it was convenient then, they were not installed to fight wars, but to control an occupied country and suppress local population with the help of natives recruited in British Indian Army. All over the world, military installations are built in remote locations, located far away from densely populated zones with minimal access to civilians, public transport, and a sterile zone, free from any residential or commercial projects to ensure security of vital national security assets. Unfortunately, in Pakistan, what we witness is emergence of so-called welfare housing and commercial building projects emerging in close proximity to every site, selected for housing state security establishments, even sensitive installations like civil or military airports, headquarters and bases of our military, air-force and navy.

Security seems to be compromised at the altar of welfare and real estate greed which is being helped and promoted by corrupt army officials who could have avoided this. The DHA Lahore, originally a four phase project, now extends to almost what constituted our second defense line in 1965 war. Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar and Chaklala airports, both civil and military have witnessed mushrooming of housing projects right next to barbed wires that separate active airfields with no space left for vital sterile zones putting into jeopardy their sensitive operations.

Important military installations must have a sterile zone, free of any construction, including housing of active security personnel, to eliminate or minimize security lapses and breaches. When GHQ, AHQ, NHQ, Kamra, Mehran Base, PAF Drigh Road Base, Chaklala, Kakul Academy, Risalpur, Lahore Cantonment etc were built decades ago, they were located far away from public access and all land belonged to the state with no commercial residential housing societies built within their premises such as DHA or AWH projects etc, nor were there marriage halls constructed in such sterile zones. Pentagon built several decades ago, the headquarters of US military, located in Virginia, has a sterile zone extending to over ten miles around its periphery with no access to anybody, including family members of serving officers. Compare this to our GHQ.

MALIK TARIQ ALI,

Lahore, February 7.