Adil Najam and Owais Mughal
The forces of hate are attacking Pakistan again.
This time targeting Ahmadi worshipers in two separate locations in Lahore, killing over 70 people, injuring more than 100, taking others hostage, and spreading their terrorizing message of hate in society.
There can be nothing but rage and loathing for those who kill for the pleasure of killing. Who kill for the purpose of spreading terror and mayhem. Who kill to hide their own inadequacies of faith. Who breed in the fires of hate and kill as an expression of hate. These are the enemies of Pakistan. The enemies of the very religion they think they are safeguarding with venomous hate. They are, indeed, the enemies of humanity.
Ultimately, the person who is killed is not a Pakistani or Indian or American or even Muslim or Jew or Christian or even Barelvi or Ahmadi or Wahabi. Ultimately, the person killed is just another human. And the person who kills, is not. Because in the very act of killing for hate he has stripped himself of that distinction, of his own humanity.
What can one add except to wipe the tears from ones eyes, to say a silent prayer – a silent prayer that society’s silence over these atrocities may break. Because when the good amongst us go silent, then only the hate of the bad resounds.
Here are the details as reported by Dawn:
Gunmen attacked worshippers from the Ahmadi community in two worship places of Lahore on Friday, taking hostages and killing at least 70 people, officials said. The gunmen opened fire shortly after Friday prayers and threw what could have been grenades at two Ahmadi worship places in residential neighbourhoods in Pakistan’s cultural capital.
Sajjad Bhutta, deputy commissioner of Lahore, said at least 70 people had been killed in the twin attacks on worship places in Garhi Shahu and Model Town. A total of 78 were injured. The death toll at Garhi Shahu was higher, Bhutta said, because three attackers blew themselves up with suicide vests packed with explosives when police tried to enter the building. Police are still searching the area as two attackers were still at large.
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani strongly condemned the attacks, expressing â€œdeep sorrow and grief over the loss of precious livesâ€. Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif said the incidents would generate greater resolve to combat extremism. â€œIt’s a reminder to the nation that Pakistan will achieve its destiny only after we get rid of the worst type of extremism and fundamentalism,â€ he told a news conference. â€œThe entire nation will fight this evil.â€ He said one attacker had been arrested. Police in Model Town confirmed one gunmen had been arrested and another killed.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but suspicion quickly fell on the Pakistani Taliban. â€œIt’s too early to say who is behind these attacks,â€ said a Lahore-based security official. â€œBut my guess is that like most other attacks, there would be some link to the Taliban or their associated militants.â€ Punjab’s Law Minister Rana Sanaullah said the arrested attacker was a teenage Pashtun. This, he said, indicated a link to the tribal area of Waziristan and strongly hinted at a Taliban link.
â€œThe prayer leader was giving a sermon when we heard firing and blasts. Everybody stood up and then two gunmen barged into the place of worship and sprayed bullets,â€ Fateh Sharif, a 19-year-old student, told Reuters from Model Town. â€œThey had long beards. They were carrying rucksacks.â€ Bhutta said a suicide vest laden with explosives was recovered from the Model Town worship place, where some attackers escaped. One fired at a television van before the area was made safe. â€œHe was young, clean-shaven. He sprayed bullets at our van while fleeing the scene,â€ Rabia Mehmood, a reporter told Reuters.
ATTACKS LAUNCHED AFTER PRAYERS
Witnesses said the assaults were launched shortly after prayers. â€œI saw some gunmen run towards the Ahmadis’ place of worship and then I heard blasts and gunfire,â€ Mohammad Nawaz, a resident, told Reuters. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) said it had warned of threats against the Ahmadi community centre in Lahore for more than a year and demanded â€œfoolproof security and protectionâ€ from the government. It expressed concern over â€œthe increasing sectarian dimensionâ€ of militancy in Pakistan, which it called â€œa big security threat to the entire societyâ€.
Friday’s shootings were the worst attacks in Pakistan since March 12 suicide attacks seconds apart killed 57 people in Lahore while targeting the Pakistani military. Nine attacks have now killed more than 220 people in Lahore over the past year, a historical city, playground for the elite and home to many top brass in Pakistan military and intelligence establishment.
Another sad day for Pakistan. Another day when hatred overwhelms tolerance. Another day when we will cry. But a day when we should really be thinking. And thinking hard – and not just about those who will commit such evil, but about ourselves and about our having tolerated a society which would tolerate such hatred.
This poem by Ahmad Faraz, which we have used a few times before, was written for a different context. But it was written for the same context. Do please listen. Do please think:
Aashna hath he aksar mairi janab lapkay
Mairay seenay meiN sada appna he khanjar utra