As many suspects as expert analysts, is how it goes this time. The Whodunit fever has gripped newsrooms worldwide with the murder of Haqqani Network leader, Nasiruddin Haqqani, in Islamabad just a few days ago.

Or perhaps it was a Shahadat (martyrdom). In the Brave New Pakistan, we won’t quite know whether Nasiruddin was plain ‘killed’ or ‘martyred’ until the Whodunnit question is resolved. It is irrelevant to the question, of course, in Brave New Pakistan as to who the targeted person was:a criminal, a bystander, or a being - human, dog, dengue mosquito - that went down fighting for a noble cause. What matters is, Whodunnit. If Idunnit, he’s Shaheed, if Youdunnit, he’s not. Crystal clear. But since I don’t know Whodunnit, Nasiruddin Haqqani was ‘killed’...for the time being.

And then, of course, there’s the ‘noble cause’. One also doesn’t know what constitutes a noble cause. Is it noble to fight a murderer of innocents, or is it noble to fight a defender of innocents. Murderer? Defender? Innocents? What are these terms? Dictionaries and common sense meanings are of no use in this Brave New Pakistan. The ifs and buts must be minded too – for they may, or may not, define the meanings: IF I am Maulana, an amoeba is Shaheed if killed by a Kafir American on Flagyl, BUT a Pakistan Army Jawan is not Shaheed if slaughtered by a Taliban (May Allah be pleased with him); IF I am Munnawar Hassan, a bubonic rat is Shaheed if his gutter attracts an American Drone, BUT a baby is not if he’s blasted to smithereens by one of the beloved Fidaeen (May he attain Jannah); A bustard hunted by the Arab nobility (God’s blessings be upon Them) in Bakistan is…is..?…. crystal clear.

Back to the newsrooms and their hunt for the Whodunnit, however. Imperative they figure it out so I might re-set my terminology. The BBC story clearly hedges its bets, naming the Americans (CIA), the Afghan intelligence, the Pakistani Taliban (TTP) and the Punjabi sub-groups of Taliban (PT) as possible suspects. Pakistani daily, The News points at the ISI, with some delicately woven hopes. CBS News sources, on the other hand, suggest the Mehsuds faction of the TTP as prime suspects.

Worthy of a thriller, this Whodunnit will be a long time in solving. Consider: the Americans could be the culprits because they hate the Haqqanis – who apart from being allegiant to Mullah Omer, are responsible for a long line of attacks on Americans and American interests; the Afghan intelligence agencies and the Karzai government thirst for Haqqani blood for obvious reasons – i.e.,offering murderous resistance to the Afghan government, hand in glove not only with Mullah Omer, but also with Pakistani ISI. The TTP were commonly understood to love them, except the TTP is now reported to be split along the ethnic Mehsood and non-Mehsood, and Punjabi and non-Punjabi lines (amongst other faultlines), with some factions furious that the Haqqanis toe the Pakistan line. Hakeemullah Mehsood, who was killed – sorry martyred – in a drone strike two weeks ago was reportedly angry at the Haqqanis acting like puppets of the Aabpara based angels. The ISI, too, was  - sorry, maybe still is - in love with the Haqqanis for reasons of ‘strategic depth’ and had for years provided sanctuary to them in North Waziristan. Except the Haqqanis were found out operating a haven for the Mehsoods of the TTP – (remember the TTP isat war with Pakistan) - within their strategic depth sanctuary. Hakeemullah Mehsood and family lived a resplendent life on a farmhouse under the Haqqanis’ refuge in Miramshah in North Waziristan. And together, the good and the bad Taliban played all sides. Bear with me please, at this point my own head hurts too. Now, Nasiruddin and the Haqqani network is known to have supported Hakeemullah’s ascendancy to the TTP throne. Hence, the TTP being an avowed enemy of the state, government, people and intelligence agencies of Pakistan, blames the ISI for Nasisruddin Haqqani’s death – sorry, maybe Shahadat. Desperate optimists also want to believe the ISI, possibly catching on to the strategic abyss it has created, may have made mince-meat of Nasiruddin Haqqani to go with the Naan bread he was buying when killed – sorry, maybe martyred. 

Now excuse me if you think I’ve muddled everything up, but that’s the way things are. Rules of this game are different: my enemy’s friend is my friend, for all sides concerned. The TTP (the Haqqanis’ friends) are the Afghans’ friends – Latif Mehsud was seized by the Americans hobnobbing with Afghan intelligence planning teaching lessons for Pakistan only three weeks ago. The Haqqanis (the TTP’s friends) are the ISI’s friends–Pakistan’s strategic ‘assets’ for decades. America (the Afghan government’s rock), is Pakistan’s friend and ally in the war on terror. But Afghan and Pakistan governments have bayed for each others’ blood for the longest time.

So Whodunnit and Shaheed or not may remain unfathomable for the time being. What should be of interest is Whocovereditup. Reportedly, local police washed away the blood stains from the crime scene yet again, registered an FIR for a local bread maker only to have been injured in the attack that killed Nasiruddin Haqqani and denied a second casualty. Yet, a relative of Nasiruddin Haqqani told BBC “his body had been spirited from Islamabad to the town of Miranshah in North Waziristan - roughly six hours drive across two provinces and one federal tribal territory, all dotted with heavily-manned military and police checkpoints.” Were his handlers in Pakistan simply embarrassed that yet another high profile terrorist– sorry, maybe Shaheed – had been found freely roaming in, living in, and targeted under their strategic umbrella – only this time in the capital of the country?

The writer is a human rights worker and freelance columnist.