News / Asia

Militant Attack Reveals Security Gaps in Pakistan

Policemen collect evidence from the site of a bomb attack at the district court in Islamabad, Pakistan, Mar. 3, 2014.
Policemen collect evidence from the site of a bomb attack at the district court in Islamabad, Pakistan, Mar. 3, 2014.
Sharon Behn
Pakistan’s prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, huddled with top military and government officials Tuesday to hammer out a security strategy following a complex terrorist attack in the capital that left 11 dead and two dozen wounded.

Eyewitnesses to Monday’s gun, grenade and suicide bomb attack on a courthouse in a busy shopping area in central Islamabad said police were not able to protect the victims from the militants.

Security analysts have said that an effective police force was critical to fighting the country’s violent insurgency.

A former inspector-general of the police, who asked to go only by the name Ahmed, said the police had the experience, but not the capacity to counter such threats.

“Unless the government of Pakistan and the provincial governments of Pakistan come very heavily to prepare the police in terms of their capacity building, it will become difficult for the police to come to the expectations of the Pakistan community, the nation, and to the international community as well,” he said.

Seeking to reassure the public, Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid said on Tuesday the government was in the process of importing bomb disposal vehicles, and boosting its defenses against urban terrorism.

According to state-run media, there were 47 police on duty at the time.  One died in the bombing.

Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan on Monday admitted the city’s police were not ready to deal with terrorist attacks.

He said Pakistan’s armed forces were trained and motivated against this kind of warfare, but its police and civil armed forces were not trained for this kind of warfare.

  • A lawyer talks on his mobile phone at the site of a suicide attack in a court complex, Islamabad, March 3, 2014.
  • A woman comforts a woman grieving outside a hospital's morgue, where the bodies of victims of a twin suicide bombing were taken, Islamabad, March 3, 2014.
  • Police officers look for evidence at the site of a suicide attack in a court complex, Islamabad, March 3, 2014.
  • Women mourn outside a hospital's morgue where the bodies of victims of a twin suicide bombing had been taken, Islamabad, March 3, 2014.
  • Police secure the site of a bomb attack at the district court in Islamabad, March 3, 2014.

The bloody attack came just two days after the Tehreek-e-Taliban alliance of militant groups declared a cease-fire in order to restart peace talks with the government.

The assault, claimed by an extremist faction defying the Taliban’s call for a cease-fire, targeted a crowded courtroom, a symbol of the country’s legal system. Most of those killed were lawyers and judges.

Supreme Court Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jilani said the attack would not weaken the system.

"Our path on the rule of law will continue, there will be no impact on that," adding he prayed for all the lives targeted in the terrorist attack.

The Supreme Court has formed a committee to investigate the incident, and has demanded a full police report.

Lawyers around the country are on strike to protest the attack.

Ahmed said even if Monday’s attack was aimed at sending a particular message to the government, more attacks were possible.

“Even if there is a splinter group, one or two, which there seem to be there, we will have to be extremely careful, and you know, sort of will have to be prepared for this kind of situations,” he said.

U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Richard Olson on Tuesday condemned the attack as a “despicable act of terrorism” and extended his condolences to the families of the victims.

You May Like

Hong Kong Democracy Calls Spread to Macau

Macau and Hong Kong are China’s two 'special administrative regions' which gives them a measure of autonomy More

After Nearly 2 Years, Pistorius Remains Elusive

Reporter Anita Powell reflects on her experience covering the Olympic athlete's murder trial More

Kenyan Coastal Town Struggles With Deadly June Attacks

Three months after al-Shabab militants allegedly attacked their town, some Mpeketoni residents are still bitter, question who was really behind the assaults More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africai
X
Luis Ramirez
September 15, 2014 11:01 PM
President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africa

President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid