By B. Raman
Pakistani intelligence and investigating agencies are yet to make a break-through in their investigation of a major terrorist attack on the headquarters of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the Sindh Police in Karachi on November 11, 2010. Eighteen persons, including five members of the para-military Frontier Corps (FC), are reported to have been killed in the attack and nearly 150 others injured. The CID offices were guarded by an FC detachment consisting mainly of Pashtun recruits from the Orakzai Agency of the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).
The terrorists used a dual modus operandi — an initial commando-style attack by a group of fidayeen (suicidal) terrorists with hand-held weapons followed by a suicide attack with a truck filled with a large quantity of explosives. The initial exchange of fire was obviously to enable some of the terrorists to enter the building and free some terrorist suspects from the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and its affiliate the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LEJ) who had recently been arrested and detained inside the CID headquarters. The information available so far indicates that the raiding terrorists did not find the arrested suspects inside the building. They had been taken to a court earlier that day and had not been brought back by the time the terrorists attacked. The terrorists were apparently not aware that the arrested suspects were not inside. After failing to find them, they blew up the buildings with a huge truck bomb.
The TTP has claimed responsibility for the attack. Ever since the failed attempt to assassinate Benazir Bhutto in Karachi in October,2007, on her return from political exile, the TTP has demonstrated an enduring presence in Karachi and the capability to plan and carry out sporadic terrorist strikes without its plans and their execution being detected and thwarted by the local police. It is not clear till now whether the cadres of the TTP and LEJ operating in Karachi are local recruits from the large Pashtun community in Karachi or are from the FATA and the Khyber Pakhtoonkwa (KP) province. The LEJ has been having for many years sleeper cells of Punjabi recruits in Karachi who have been killing Shia professionals such as doctors and lawyers. A TTP presence is a phenomenon noticed since October 2007.
The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) of Altaf Hussain, which is a Mohajir (refugees from India) organisation, has been alleging repeatedly that many trained cadres of the TTP have shifted to Karachi from the Swat Valley of the KP province and the FATA and that there is a sinister attempt to Talibanise the Pashtun community of Karachi, which till now has been largely supporting the secular Awami National Party, which is in power at the head of a calition in the KP province and which is a member of the ruling coalition in Islamabad headed by Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani. The MQM, which is in power in the Sindh province in a coalition with President Asis Ali Zardari’s Pakistan People’s Party, controls the Police Department and hence the CID. Unlike the CID in other provinces, which avoid action against the TTP and its affiliates due to fear of reprisals by the TTP, the CID of the Sindh Police has been quite active in its attempts to detect and neutralise the cells of the TTP and the LEJ.
The attack on the CID headquarters on November 11 seems to have had two objectives—firstly, to free the arrested suspects who the TTP believed were being detained there and, secondly, to intimidate the local CID into slowing down its drive against the TTP and the LEJ in Karachi. The first objective seems to have failed. It remains to be seen what impact the raid has on the morale of the CID, most of whose senior officers seem to have escaped death in the raid.