Lessons Learnt from Wagah Terrorism
Posted on November 9th, 2014

By Afshain Afzal

On evening 2nd November 2014, in an unfortunate explosion near Pakistan-India entry gate at Wagah, around 60 persons were killed and more then 120 injured. The attack reminds last Muharram’s massacre at Raja Bazar, Rawalpindi in an attack on almost century old Masjid cum Madrassa, in which over 200 Sunnis were killed. Interestingly, the Wagah attack occurred, only 500 meters away from the gates where every morning and evening smartly turned out personnel of Indian Border Security Force (BSF) and Pakistani Rangers (PR) perform flag hoisting and lowering ceremonies.

Initial reports from the site of the incident, suggested that it was gas cylinder explosion near the hotel parking area but later it was claimed to be a terrorist attack. Aftermath the attack, the area was sealed and ban on entry of civilians has been announced while there will be no public ceremony for the retreat for the next three days. Captain (Retired) Usman DCO Lahore in an interview to media while confirming the explosion disclosed that security was at high alert and covering all the Majalis.

Ministry of Interior has ordered an inquiry in the light of intelligence tip of 30th September 2014, which clearly informed about the possible tragedy at Wagah during Moharram. Director General Rangers while accepting three deaths and five injuries of Rangers personnel confirmed that it was a suicide attack. On its part, Punjab Government has announced Rs 5 Lac to the next of kin to all those who were killed in the explosion. The Federal Government announced that the names of allow those killed in Wagah explosion will be included in the Shaheeds of Pakistan Army. It is encouraging to see that the Government, the hospital authorities, Pakistan Rangers as well as civil society reacted promptly after the incident and did their best to reduce post disaster effects.

Interesting, on the left hand side of the of the explosion site, the office dealing with Pak-India trade is located, where over hundred Indian trucks engaged in the trade are daily parked but no one doubted India. Neither media nor any Pakistani official even hinted about Indian involvement. Rather, the official statement came as a surprise that enemies of Pakistan want to divert Pakistan’s attention from the Western border to the Eastern with India. Seven injured in the explosion were removed form the ambulances for interrogations and were not allowed to proceed to the hospital for treatment Although all the patients were send to Ghurki Trust Teaching Hospital, Mayo Hospital, Services Hospital and General Hospital but some were evacuated to private hospitals including at Allama Iqbal Town.

Delay in handing over dead bodies to their loved ones created bad taste as post-mortem was being conducted. Media experts blamed groups fighting in North Waziristan for the suicide attack. It would interest many that the authorities were also able to find the scarf of the suicide bomber from the debris of human remains scattered everywhere. The Government of Pakistan also promptly announced their commitment to continue their fight against terrorist in Khyber PK and FATA. Interestingly, next day on 3rd November, security and intelligence personnel recovered an unexploded suicide jacket near the site of the explosion, laden with over 10 kilograms of explosion on which expression in Pushto language. One wonders why the terrorists left suicide jacket with message written in Pushto and typical kind of scarf.

An eye witness revealed that a group has claimed the responsibility of the attack, claiming that they were aggrieved by whistling, clapping and playing songs during ceremony at Wagah during holy month of Moharram. Few locals also told that the some group had issued warnings to the owners of small shops and hotels to pack up their businesses as they intend to establish their offices and businesses there. A villager of Barki disclosed on the condition of anonymity that some Indian intelligence agents are settled in the border area. Interestingly, five days back it was published in the press that there is a possibility of attack at Moharram procession at Wagah. According to the BBC, Ahsan ullah Ahsan from Ahrarul Haq, an off shoot of Taliban accepted the responsibility of the explosion on phone. Media reports also confirmed the name of Jindulah as the organization which took complete responsibility of the suicide explosion as revenge of Pak Army operations in North Waziristan and Karachi. Some locals also told that since few years some Indian nationals who have learnt Urdu and Punjabi accent have settled in the border area of Wagah.

There is no doubt that Pakistan is facing terrorism since its inception as all those  who had never accepted partition of Muslims and Hindus majority areas, are behind the conspiracy to disintegrate Pakistan. There can be no two opinions that the responsibility of security of border areas rests with Para Military Forces (PMF) including Rangers. The Wagah incident could have been averted if Rangers and other security forces were not deployed on Moharram duties and allowed to perform their main responsibilities of manning their own Area of Responsibility (AOR).

In the same context, Mr. Zaeem Hussain Qadri, spokesperson of the Punjab Government pointed out that the incident took place around 25 kilometers away from Lahore, which falls outside the security zone for the Majalis and Zuljina processions. He also disclosed that that in future the security zone will be extended to other areas, where Special Security Forces will be deployed for the protection of Majalis and Zuljina processions One wonders is it wise to compel PMF to leave their responsibility of guarding the borders and take up secondary duties.

It is strange that due to the incident, ceremony at Wagah Gate has been cancelled for three days and entry of civilian banned in the area but Rangers were not withdrawn from Internal Security duties and redeployed in their AOR. It is high time that we must identify our enemies and allow the institutions to perform their main roles. Our borders are insecure in the absence of Pakistan Rangers. We also need to investigate, who are the new settlers in the area and the one who trying to demolish old structures and establish new businesses Sovereignty, security and good governance requires that our institutions should perform their own roles and let others do their duties.  [email protected]

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