Omar Waraich: Another attack adds to the pile of unsolved cases

Related Topics

There is now an established pattern that follows terrorist attacks in Pakistan. The grim details are beamed around the world and as Pakistanis respond with a mixture of shock, fear and anger, the world asks how much deeper the country can plunge. The government denies glaring security and intelligence failures. Ministers insist they are pursuing strong leads and vow to bring the perpetrators to justice.

Yet once emotions have subsided and the media's focus shifted elsewhere, there has been no closure. It is still not known who assassinated the former prime minister Benazir Bhutto. There are confusing claims about the authors of the devastating attack on the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad last year. And as authorities flounder in their pursuit of the gunmen who mounted the "3/3" attack on the Sri Lankan team in Lahore, there are fears that another atrocity will pass unpunished.

"I don't think we will ever find out who did this," said Ayesha Siddiqa, a security and military analyst. "Confusion reigns at the main policy-making level. There is no consensus on how to deal with this threat. There are bureaucratic inefficiencies. There is a fear of these militant organisations. And there is the argument that the government is complicit."

In some cases, suspects have been rounded up but never brought before court. These relatively low-level operators are prized by investigators as rich sources of information. "They are very reluctant to bring them to court," says Talat Hussain, a journalist who has covered investigations. "While in custody, they are seen as a route to the larger terrorist network."

Many suspects are never caught. A sclerotic bureaucracy often fails to pursue cases to their conclusion. "When it comes to perpetrators of most terrorist attacks, the cases are open, but the ledger is incomplete," Hussain says. "And much of the investigation is done by military intelligence agencies who shun the public profile."

Those who assassinated Ms Bhutto 16 months ago are still at large. At a gathering to mark the first anniversary of her death, her supporters taunted her widower, President Asif Ali Zardari, with chants of: "BB, we are ashamed, your killers are still alive."

A number of other investigations have been associated with allegations of appeasement and even official complicity.

During the siege of the radical Red Mosque in Islamabad, Hussain says, "people who were connected to major terrorist groups were allowed to go scot free" through a deal with the government of General Pervez Musharraf.

When the former military ruler imposed a state of emergency in November 2007, 25 militants from Swat were released as part of a deal while lawyers and democratic politicians were being arrested.

Despite its public disavowal of supporting militant groups, there are lingering suspicions that serving and retired members of military intelligence maintain links with their former clients in the jihadist underworld.

Last year, the links came to light when a retired army officer was arrested and accused of plotting a suicide attack on an air force bus.

Security failures: Suicide killers

December 2007: Former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, pictured, is among about 20 people killed in a shooting and suicide attack during an election rally in Rawalpindi. Scotland Yard detectives were later asked by General Pervez Musharraf, then president, to investigate the attack.

September 2008: A total of 57 people are killed when a suicide bomber drives a truck full of explosives into the front gates of the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad. A month later, four men suspected of "indirect involvement" in the attack are arrested. None has been put on trial and the investigation is said to be "floundering".

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Web Application Support Manager

£60000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Reigate...

Music Teacher

£85 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chester: Job Opportunity for Secondary ...

Maths Teacher

£85 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chester: Job Opportunity for Secondary ...

C# Developer - West Sussex - permanent - £40k - £50k

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum + excellent benefits package: Clearwater People Solu...

Day In a Page

Read Next
“You're running away!” Nick said to me the other night as I tried to leave the hospital  

In Sickness and in Health: ‘There’s nothing I want more than to have you at home, but you’re not well’

Rebecca Armstrong

Daily catch-up: Ed Miliband on low pay; Alan Johnson on Betjeman; Tom Freeman on editing

John Rentoul
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments