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

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More