Militant suicide bombers brought their mayhem and murder to Lahore today. The well-planned terrorist attack has left at least 26 people dead and some 70 injured.
According to Dawn:
A suicide bomber blew himself up among police outside the Lahore High Court building Thursday, killing at least 22 policemen and 4 civilians, and wounding over 70 others, minutes before a planned anti-government protest rally of the lawyers latest reports said.
â€œThere were about 60 to 70 policemen on duty when a man rammed into our ranks and soon there was a huge explosion,â€ said police officer Syed Imtiaz Hussain who suffered wounds to his legs and groin. TV footage showed at least four mangled bodies on the ground close to a destroyed motorbike and a piece of smoking debris. The blast fired shrapnel as far as 100 meters away. It also shattered windows in the court house and set off volleys of tear gas shells carried by the police, witnesses said. Lahoreâ€™s chief of police operations Aftab Cheema said the bomber had run up to a barrier manned by police and blew himself up. He said 20 policemen and two civilians were killed. More than 70 others were wounded, including civilian passers-by, officials said. â€œIt was a suicide attack,â€ Lahore police chief Malik Iqbal told Dawn News TV adding that 22 policemen died in the attack. He said police were â€œdefinitelyâ€ targeted.
An Associated Press photographer at the scene of the attack saw the severed head of a man with long hair and beard, possibly that of the suicide bomber. Police constable Jameel Ahmed said the attacker was a man aged about 25 who had arrived outside the court building on a motorbike. â€œHe parked his bike and walked up to the police and blew himself up,â€ Ahmed said. Police bomb disposal experts estimated the bomb contained up to 14 kilograms of explosive. The police had been deployed in front of the court premises ahead of a weekly lawyers’ protest against the sacking of Supreme Court judges in November. The rally had been due to start about 15 minutes before the bomb went off. About 200 lawyers were inside the High Court at the time of the blast, and others were marching from a nearby district court.
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But Lahore, as they say, is Lahore. I guess it was. Lahore is always dearest to me not only because of my own roots in the city but also because it hosted me through my wonderful University days there. It is not that Lahore was unfamiliar to political violence and murder. Far from it. But it has not been in the cross-hair of these suicide murders like many other places were. Now it is.
I have gone through my own connections to all these place as a form of catharsis for myself, but much more than that because even if I sit far away from them today, I take each of these attacks personally. I can feel the hurt, and feel – quite literally – like screaming out in pain. These attacks are not just attacks on cities and people in cities that I am fond of. These are attacks on the principles that I stand for, the ideals that I wish for, and the aspirations that I hope for. These are attacks on me. On my Pakistan. On my Pakistaniat.
I fear that there are too many of us who have internalized the violence. This is “how things are.” We have made ourselves “get used to it.” We have depersonalized the pain. Someone else died; somewhere else. Sad, but life must go on. We have made ourselves numb to the destruction and in the process legitimized the violence of the terrorist with the argument is that somehow the violence was done to make a point.
But that is the point. Violence is never an argument. It is a verdict. There is nothing more pitiful than a society that “gets used to” violence. I fear that this is exactly what is happening to us.
I realize that I have gotten a little carried away in my emotions here. But, maybe, we should all get carried away in our emotions now and then. I know that the hurt and the pain I feel is not just my hurt and pain. It the hurt and pain of far too many Pakistanis. For many it is much much more than my own because they have to live the hurt and pain every day in the neighborhoods they live in.
Maybe we should all take this personally. Maybe we should all not just feel the outrage but express the outrage. And do so without the violence and without the mayhem that the terrorists express their own outrage in. We as a people have to learn somehow to express our hurt without feeling the need to hurt someone else.
Violence feeds not only on the anger of those who are violent, but also on the silence of those who are not. We must not remain silent in the face of systemic violence.