Threat to Peshawar International Airport
Every morning we wake up thinking that the new day might bring some good news but the newspapers are littered with all types of discouraging news. A few days back I had read in the local Urdu paper that the militants (terrorists) had threatened to attack the Peshawar International Airport in 36 hours.
Terrorists usually don’t warn beforehand but in case of TTP we’ve observed they certainly do what they threaten. They without any penitence claimed the responsibility of Peshawar (PC Hotel) and Lahore blasts. And now, if they say that they’d target the airport building and commercial flights means they will soon act upon it.
The News carried a report today :
Documents available with The News reveal the Defence Ministry issued a “confidential” office memorandum on June 3 to the interior secretary, who was asked to take security measures around the approach areas of the country’s airports from possible ground fire during landings and take offs of commercial airlines.
In Peshawar where the runway ends, the villages of Bara begin where any civilian aircraft is a few hundred feet away and could become a sitting duck to a rocket attack. Referring to a news report that a banned militant/terrorist outfit has given a deadline of June 14, 2009 that they would target commercial jets if the government does not stop the military operation in Swat, the Defence Ministry said the Pakistan Airlines Pilot Association (Palpa) had also conveyed its concern regarding the threat to commercial aircraft.
“It is important to mention here that aircraft are most vulnerable to ground fire during landings and take offs. More attention for foolproof security may be given to funnel areas and areas adjacent to airports,” the ministry’s OM reads.
It would be catastrophic if the terrorists attacked any commercial flight (national or international). I think the international flights to Peshawar should be suspended in the wake of growing threats because the lives of 200 plus people can not be put into danger. I know that area. Both ends of the airstrip have thick population and residential areas. It would be quite an easy task for a terrorist to fire a rocket at any plane during landing or take off.
It’s not the first time the airport has come under an apparent danger. The airport has been attacked by rockets several times in the past 3 years but luckily no loss of life or property occurred. Similarly, on 26th December 2006, a bomb fitted in the car, parked in the parking lot outside the airport building went off.
My sister who was in the international lounge at that time when heard the loud blast called us up. People inside were fine. But every single act of terrorism damages the psyche of a person. I don’t know the exact location of that car or since how long it was parked there but I believe we had just passed close to it because the bomb went off when we were on our way to home.
The government’s plan
It asked the Interior Ministry to direct quarters concerned to ensure security of these areas with focus on the following:
a) Proper record of personnel living in these areas including maintenance of their antecedents;
b) Deployment of intelligence staff to keep an eye over new entrants into these areas;
c) Round-the-clock monitoring of activities in these areas;
d) Frequent combing be carried out as a deterrent;
e) Effective patrolling to ensure extra vigil;
f) Special care may be taken at those airports which fall within the populated towns/cities and/or located in troubled areas.
Although the current threat has been exclusively issued to Peshawar airport but terrorists can access everywhere. It could be any airport in the country that might be on the terrorists’ hitlist . Keeping the present threat in view the security of all airports across the country has been beefed up.
I truly wish that the terrorists don’t resort to a mean act of mass murder of innocent people. With every such act (which they claim is to force the US to leave our territory) would only strengthen them more.