On Sunday, it happened again in Pakistan. Without warning, a suicide blast tore through the Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park, killing indiscriminately. At least 70 people – mostly women and children – were killed and more than 300 people were wounded. The attack was claimed by a splinter group of the Pakistani Taliban, Jamaat-ul-Ahrar. The blast intentionally targeted Christians on Easter Sunday. A large number of Christians and Muslims had gathered at the park. Children were frolicking, some were playing on the swings. A joyful chatter was resounding through the park when suicide bomber blew himself off. Jamaat-ul-Ahrar had a chilling message for the Pakistan establishment.
“We want to send this message to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif that we have entered Lahore,” a spokesman, Ehsanullah Ehsan, said. “He can do what he wants but he won’t be able to stop us. Our suicide bombers will continue these attacks.”
The faction has claimed responsibility for several big attacks after it split with the main Pakistan Taliban in 2014. It initially declared allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant but later said it was rejoining the Taliban campaign.
Pakistan Army has reacted in a predictable manner, reiterating its resolve to get one with its Zarb-e-Azb campaign. “We must bring the killers of our innocent brothers, sisters and children to justice and will never allow these savage inhumans to overrun our life and liberty,” military spokesman Asim Bajwa said on Twitter.
Lahore attack follows a string of the horrifying attacks which began with December 2014 massacre of children by Taliban at a Peshawar school. Early, this year a group of militants stormed Bacha Khan University in Charsadda in north-west Pakistan, killing at least 30 people and leaving dozens injured. The gunmen opened fire on students and teachers in classrooms and accommodation blocks. And now with Lahore attack, Taliban has yet again demonstrated that they can strike any part of Pakistan. They have also demonstrated that their ruthlessness and savageness follows no boundary. For Taliban, the suicide attack in Lahore is yet another innovation in their military campaign against the Pakistani state. The grisly incident was meant to set a fresh benchmark in their violent methods. In recent years, the Taliban has detonated bombs in bustling marketplaces, attacked shrines and mosques and stormed security installations which include army headquarters in Rawalpindi, a naval base in Karachi, an air base in Kamra, an airport in Peshawar, and the international airport in Karachi. Thousands have died in these attacks, most of them the innocent civilians.
Having said that, the world also needs to introspect. While we grieve with the kin of the victims of Lahore carnage, a differential sense of outrage over the killings of the people in the assorted conflicts across the world needs to end. It is time for the world to stay united and face this extremist menace that seems to pursue violence for its own sake. Killing innocent men, women and the children is an end in itself. For no scripture, no code, no cause, no war and certainly no amount of personal and collective grievance would sanction it. This cult of senseless violence cannot be allowed to fester. Its decisive defeat is not only about the victory of a country – in this case Pakistan – but about the triumph of the humanity.
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