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Taliban raid: After another blow to its image, Pakistan's military regains control of base

With few trusted institutions remaining in Pakistan, such attacks on the military undermine the political stability of the country.

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“We need to really figure out who the perpetrators were. To me, it does suggest the involvement of external elements which may have provided them with training and access,” says Hussain. “This is beyond the capabilities of the Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan.”

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Ambiguity surrounds recent attacks

Pakistan has already seen its fair share of violence this year, with the most recent major attack on a cadet camp in the the northwest Pakistani town of Shabqadir 10 days ago. While the public has grown more immune to bloodshed, Monday's incident appears to have taken on greater proportion, partly due to the fact that it took place in Karachi, Pakistan's largest city, and because a young naval Lieutenant who died has become the "face" of the raids. A facebook page in honor of the photogenic Lt. Syed Yaser Abbas quickly attracted hundreds of followers who posted messages like "You Are The Pride Of Our Country .... You'll Live Forever In Our Hearts ... Insha'Allah."

The ambiguity around who is really responsible for such attacks and just how much the Pakistani military and government works with the United States frustrates the Pakistani public, says Khalid Rahman, a political analyst at the Institute of Policy Studies in Islamabad.

“I think they still trust the military establishment as far as its strength is concerned. But its approach to the whole [war on terrorism] and its dealing with America, that is a major question in their minds,” says Mr. Rahman.

For many Pakistanis, he says, the root cause for violence in Pakistan is the spillover of the American war effort in Afghanistan – not terrorist forces from inside Pakistan. Therefore, Pakistanis want to see their leaders take a tough line with the Americans against drone strikes and other military cooperation.

Over the weekend, cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan led a thousands-strong sit-in designed to block NATO supply routes from Karachi. Mr. Khan's Tehreek-i-Insaaf (Justice Party) has exploited rising anti-American sentiment in the country to call for the removal of the government.

What about Pakistan's nuclear capability?

But for some elites and for many outsiders, the latest attack only raises concerns about the capability of the Pakistani military to keep the country stable and safeguard its nuclear weapons.

“Every such incident weakens the Army’s claim of 100 percent nuclear safety,” says Pervez Hoodbhoy, a nuclear scientist at Quad-i-Azam University.

“As far as I know, this base did not stock nuclear weapons, but it was heavily defended because there had been repeated attacks on navy personnel in previous weeks. The fact that the Pakistani Taliban could still get through the base defenses suggests that they can get through defenses elsewhere too,” he adds.

Issam Ahmed contributed to this article from Islamabad, Pakistan


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