Lahore Data Darbar Attack: Who is responsible?


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.

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10 thoughts on “Lahore Data Darbar Attack: Who is responsible?

  1. IT is particularly cowardly to enter a place of worship and gun down dozens of people peacefully practising their religion. We saw it happen to the ahmadis in their mosque and now again at Data Darbar. This is a very sad state of affairs for a muslim country

  2. >> Statements such as “these terrorists can neither be Muslims nor Pakistanis” echoed from the common man to those in authority

    This is a natural response but, I believe, an unhelpful one.

    Here in America, when a Christian does something atrocious — it’s the same response: “Oh, he’s not a real Christian. ”

    We religious people need to own-up to our extremist fringes and honestly deal with them.

    To deny that we have these movements in our religion means we probably will never correct the problems which breed them.

  3. Actually PTA and some of the so called anti-Indian organisations like Lashkar e Jhangwi are dead opposed to the viewpoints of mutual harmony, coexistence, unity and cultural celebration of Sufism
    so attacking a shrine is meaningful.

  4. A tiny minority with a mental illness is throwing shame on the whole Muslim community.

    Blog as this one should flourish so as to set records right (as least to those who have access to the internet).

    But this is still part of hazardous work to be done to clear Islam.

  5. I dont see this as an attack on the shrine itself, but on a public place on a thursday night where the chances of mass presence are high. Though I might be wrong, but this, I think, is a slap right on the face of the government. Although I agree that whatever is done at the shrine is not right, in fact it shouldn’t be called a ‘data’ darbaar as it cannot give anything (data means the giver), but still I dont see this attack on the shrine itself…

    May Allah guide us all to sirat-e-mustaqeem. Ameen

  6. Dear Sana,

    A very well written piece and I agree with you that ordinary citizens of Pakistan particularly bourgeois who are very confused and most of the times unknowingly support such elements in our society. True that the problem is within!

    But my question has always been with such writers like you who have a reformist or probably an alternate way of thinking, that you’ll convey your message to those “ordinary citizens”. They are not exposed to this alternate view points and even if some are, they are so much b0mbarded with the traditional and orthodox content and messages that alternate views seldom make a difference if any at all.

    I just don’t know how the thinking of the masses will change?

  7. “Intolerance is the overcompensation of doubt”said Andre Malraux(3 November 1901 – 23 November 1976)French author, adventurer and statesman).

    “Muslims are just a bunch of frustrated” said Sir Charles Gaetan Duval (Mauritian politician b1930-d1996).

    The above mentioned two quotes say all about the muslims.

    Muslims are intolerant because they are frustrated.

    The suicide bombing is only one of many signs of a deeper illness of the muslim community worldwide.

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