PIRACY off the Somali coast is only one manifestation of the tragic events the country experienced for almost 20 years. Experts have concluded that piracy cannot be curbed off the Somali coast without establishing minimum law and order in Puntland and the other coastal areas of Somalia. The lawless conditions in Somalia meant that it was possible to moor a ship beyond the reach of rescue and retaliation, making it an ideal place for ransom-based piracy to thrive. Are there parallels with Karachi?
Some of the world’s most critical sea lanes traverse close to Karachi. Through the Strait of Hormuz, the lifeline of global energy needs is shipped 17 million barrels of oil each day. The cargo is destined for India, China, the US and several other countries.
India’s highest revenue-earning port of Kandla, which feeds the country’s highly productive granary and industrial belt stretching across occupied Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pardesh, Haryana, Rajashstan and Gujrat is only 200 miles from Karachi.
Commenting on the recent execution of Ajmal Kasab, the editorial of ‘The Hindu’ (Nov 22) had this to say: ‘Kasab was neither the architect of 26/11 nor its strategic mastermind; the men who indoctrinated and controlled him remain safe in Pakistan, where most will likely never see the inside of a courtroom’.
It is now officially acknowledged that all the 10 attackers were Pakistanis; the attack was planned in Pakistan and that the attackers took off from the shores of Karachi. The reaction by the international community to an attack on the shipping plying close to Karachi and if traced back to Pakistan cannot be predicted; neither could India’s reaction to another Mumbai-style attack.
But one thing is certain; the anarchic situation in Karachi is ripe for launch of an attack either within or else outside Pakistan’s maritime precincts by the militant groups acting alone or in union.
Last month the UN Security Council unanimously passed a resolution paving way for military intervention and creation of an international force to help Mali’s army rescue the country from the jihadists and ethnic insurrection. Today’s Karachi represents a similar scenario.
M. AZAM KHAN