- DG ISPR says LeJ, al Qaeda in sub-continent working in collusion with TTP to plan attacks on military and civilian targets
- Says although significant gains have been made in the port city with arrests and killings of several hardcore terrorists, yet several dangerous outfits are still active in Karachi
- Security agencies foil ‘nearly executed’ plan to storm Hyderabad jail and free prominent jihadi leader
Claiming significant gains in the Rangers-led Karachi operation, chief military spokesman Lt General Asim Bajwa on Friday said that the fight to rid the port city of violence and terrorism was far from over.
Addressing a press conference here, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) director general said that the crime rate in Karachi had decreased since the start of the operation in 2013 when the city was infested with street crime, targeted killings and kidnappings for ransom.
He said the Rangers had conducted over 7,000 raids in the city during the operation and arrested more than 12,000 people of whom 6,000 had been handed over to the police for legal action.
Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), he said, were the biggest terrorist groups which had conducted attacks in the city in collusion with the banned terror outfit, the Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP) Pakistan
All the terrorist outfits, he added, were trying to consolidate their presence in the city. A pool of terrorists used by all the militant groups, including 94 hardcore terrorists, was arrested. About 26 of them carried head money, said Bajwa.
The same group, Bajwa said, had planned and executed the Kamra base attack, attack on Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) base in Sukkur, Karachi Airport attack, Karachi jail break attempt and assassination of top Karachi policeman Chaudhry Aslam.
Bajwa said the number of terror incidents in Karachi had reduced drastically. Targeted killings declined by 70 per cent, incidents of extortion by 85pc and kidnappings for ransom by 90pc.
He, however, appealed to the citizens to be aware of their surroundings “so as not to become a tool or accessory to these terror bids”.
Regards Operation Zarb-e-Azb, he said all terrorist sanctuaries in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) had been eliminated with the exception of a few pockets.
He said a “nearly executed” Hyderabad jail break plan was foiled in an operation. The bid was an attempt to set free Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, the terrorist held in connection with Daniel Pearl’s murder and another suspect jailed for involvement in attack on the Karachi Corps Commander a few years ago. The perpetrators, who also had a list of 35 prisoners they wanted to kill, and a police constable, who was abetting them, had been arrested.
He also showed a map used by the terrorists for planning the Hyderabad jail break.
Bajwa produced before the media three “high-value targets” apprehended by security forces — Naeem Bukhari, Muhammad Farooq alias Musanna and Sabir Khan — who were involved in the Hyderabad jail break attempt.
He said that Mussannah, leader of al Qaeda in the sub-continent, was the mastermind. He also arranged financing for the group’s operations in Karachi. He was number two to the terror group’s leader who was present in Afghanistan.
He said that Naeem Bukhari was the head of LeJ’s Sindh chapter, while Munna was another top al Qaeda leader.
He said the three terrorists carried head money of Rs 15 million, Rs 20 million and Rs 5 million, respectively.
He said that the three terrorists were “in the advanced stages of carrying out car bomb attack on Hyderabad Central Jail to free Ahmed Omar Sheikh”
Huzaifa, another facilitator, was being searched for, but was probably in Afghanistan, he added.
To a question, the DG ISPR said the presence of military personnel in urban centres was not unique to Pakistan as troops in combat gear could be seen in the United States, Italy and other countries.
“There is a shift in the deployment of security around the whole world… they are learning,” he said. “These military personnel are there for your own security – many have died in service of this nation.”
The operation against criminal elements in Pakistan’s commercial hub was initiated in September 2013 after the federal cabinet empowered Rangers to lead a targeted advance with the support of police against criminals already identified by federal military and civilian agencies for their alleged involvement in targeted killings, kidnappings for ransom, extortion and terrorism in Karachi.
On May 14, 2015, a high-level apex committee meeting chaired by Chief of Army Staff Gen Raheel Sharif decided to implement effective policing and surveillance in the “vast suburbs of Karachi”, to prevent what the military spokesperson said were “sneaking terrorist attacks”.