First Appeared On Dawn.com
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Lahore is often known as the heart of Pakistan; the hub of culture and arts, the centre of education, the city of gardens, with the prominent aspect of the city being its ancient history and its deep-rooted connection to Sufism. Living in a city steeped in heritage and culture, Lahoris are known for their fun-loving spirit. This very spirit was attacked on July 1, when two suicide bombers attacked Data Darbar, shrine of the patron saint of Lahore.
The attack killed 45 people and left more than 175 injured.
This is not the first time a shrine has been attacked, previously the shrines of Rahman Baba and Mian Umer Baba in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have also been attacked.
Attacking Data Darbar on a Thursday night was an obvious target – that is the night when the shrine is teeming with worshippers as well as those seeking shelter and food from all walks of life. There is no question that the attack was well-planned – CCTV footage showed scenes of carnage and the bombers just moments before they blew themselves up. The footage showed a security guard chasing after one of the bombers shortly before the bomb went off – body parts and blood splattered everywhere as the survivors fled in all directions.
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The most common reactions after the attack are that of denial, with many pointing fingers at foreign involvement. Statements such as “these terrorists can neither be Muslims nor Pakistanis” echoed from the common man to those in authority. Despite a history of intolerance towards Sufism, the notorious TTP has also declined any involvement in the attack claiming they do not attack ‘public places’ Usman, 16, who was identified as the alleged suicide bomber by the authorities, was later reported to be a victim of the attack.
I was asked a similar question : What does the attack on the Ahmedis and on Data Darbar mean? Is this sectarian violence or do terrorists not have a religion? According to The Pakistan Security Report there have been over 249 terrorist attacks across the country, killing around 1182 and leaving over 995 injured. Not a single so-called ‘foreign’ terrorist has been arrested so far, clearly ruling out the possibility of foreign and/or non-muslin suicide bombers at work. As for the possibility of a conspiracy that foreign agencies could be involved, we must understand that the nature of such involvement is opportunistic.
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At the end of the day we need to look within ourselves. The attack on the shrine was not just another terror attack; it was an attack on the Sufi saints who have taught us peace, tolerance, spirituality, co-existence and universal brotherhood. It is important we acknowledge that a certain faction of our society continues to harbour hate that can, and has, incite violence. These are not a group of underground terrorists but ordinary citizens who openly declare their disapproval to anything that doesn’t fit within the confines of their strict ideology. One such example can be seen on this forum where a user started a thread suggesting a call for “demolishing ‘centres’ of shirk like Data Darbar and the likes”
The seven-page discussion thread ends with CCTV videos of the attack on the shrine, with one user rightly pointing out, “I have an issue with the title of this thread. ‘Demolish.’ I wonder if it is this type of language that creates confusion and hatred, which leads to suicide attacks, like the one in Lahore on Thursday. Even if those attacks are done by external forces, they leverage internal hatred. Thoughts? [sic]”
Indeed, something that we need to seriously think about. While talking to reporters on the Data Darbar attack Nawaz Sharif repeatedly emphasised that he will not indulge the blame game and refused to point fingers.
I think it is time to point fingers but in the right direction.