Når Taliban og Al Qaida kan gå til angrep på hærens hovedkvarter midt på lyse dagen, og hæren har kjent til angrepet i en måned, inklusive navnene på de som skulle delta, – da er noe fundamentalt galt. Pakistan ser ut til å falle fra hverandre.

Det er blitt sagt den senere tid at Al Qaida og Taliban ikke har noen interesse av å angripe eller ta Islamabad. Men hva forteller dette angrepet? Hæren hadde varslet operasjoner i Sør-Waziristan. Ved å angripe hæren i dens eget hovedkvarter viste Al Qaida og Taliban at det er de som bestemmer hva som skal skje.

Analysts described the attack as a significant embarrassment for the army and intelligence services, which had known about the plot — and even the names of those involved — since last month.

They also said the attack showed that the Taleban and al-Qaeda were increasingly working together with militant groups based in Punjab province, allowing them to hit targets across the country.

«If there is a message in this then it is that they can hit hard targets as well as soft targets,» said retired General Assad Durrani, a former head of the Inter-Services Intelligence agency.

Aqeel, who used the alias Dr Usman, belonged to Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a Punjab-based militant group that has close links with al-Qaeda and was blamed for the attack on the Sri Lanka cricket team.

Aqeel escaped arrest in April this year when police raided his house in Kahuta, about 30 miles from Islamabad, according to General Abbas.

Security officials told The Times that the militants were all thought to be members of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and another Punjab-based militant group, Jaish-e-Mohammed. They also said that intelligence agencies had obtained the entire plan of the attack, and the names of those involved, from a computer disk recovered from a militant killed by police in southern Punjab last month. They appear, however, to have done little to prevent the attack.

«The militants have humiliated the army,» said a retired brigadier, Javed Hussain.

Angrepet vil garantert vekke stor bekymring blant landene som er engasjert i Afghanistan.

En omstendighet er ekstra uorvekkende. Ikke langt unna angrepsstedet befinner Pakistans atomvåpen seg. Hva hindrer terroristene i å angripe dem?

They also said there was no sign that Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, which is controlled from another complex not far from the army headquarters, was at risk. «It is very important that alarmist talk is not allowed to gather pace,» said Mr Miliband.

Hostages die in rescue after Islamists take over Pakistani army headquarters