Mar 13, 2010

Lahore bleeds

Just as we think the militants have perfected the art of murder and can do no better, they prove us wrong. The intricately orchestrated twin suicide blasts in the cantonment area of Lahore Friday afternoon, followed by repeated explosions at night in the Iqbal Town area, were obviously planned -- and then executed -- to perfection. The bombers struck the cantonment area within 10 or 15 seconds of each other, ensuring they took the maximum toll with the second strike hitting those who had come to help the ones felled by the first bomber. According to media reports, the target was a convoy of military vehicles. But most of the casualties were bound to be civilians as the attack took place in a crowded bazaar, just before Friday prayers. TV images showed women and children among those being carried away. As these lines are being written at least 45 people are reported dead and over 100 injured. The ISPR says five soldiers are dead and ten injured. In some ways the exact figure is immaterial. Rather like a bunch of eager fans watching a cricket game, we have become somewhat obsessed with statistics and numbers. After each blast we immediately ask how many have died. The fact though is that any death is one too many; any bomb attack a terrible act.

The attack in Lahore was the second within a week. It took place in one of the most highly protected security zones in the city. We are told, as in previous terrorist outrages, that CCTV cameras have captured the images of the bombers and that these will be released to the public. But this is rather pointless, given the loss of life and the suffering already inflicted. Security must be aimed at preventing bombings. So far it has proved almost impossible to put in place a plan to do so. But ways will have to be found. Obviously, the terrorists have every intention of continuing their deadly campaign. They have not yet been vanquished and it is premature to make claims of this. The recent acts of violence in Lahore, Peshawar and Mansehra suggest we are still not safe at all. In what appears to be a knee-jerk response the commissioner of Lahore has blamed India for the bomb blasts. He must offer up whatever evidence he has. Logic dictates though that, like the spate of terrorism we have suffered for months, the latest attack too was carried out by pro-Taliban forces targeting the military. The enemy is here and has struck again and again – and our only hope of survival lies in driving the monster out before it is too late to do so. Somehow we have to stop this horror. The stains of blood that have coloured countless streets must fade away forever. Until this happens we, as a nation, will know no peace.

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