A group of gunmen stormed a police academy in Lahore on Monday, triggering a bloody eight-hour siege in Pakistan’s second largest city and raising even deeper concern about security in that vital nation.
At least eight police and three civilians were killed in what was the second major terrorist attack in Lahore this month, following an assault on Sri Lankan cricket players on March 3.
The siege ended when commandos stormed the building. The attack increases the pressure on the beleagured Pakistani president, Asif Ali Zardari, whose government is facing violent militants on several fronts.
The “All About Pakistan” blog reposts a firtshand account from a witness living near the police academy in Lahore:
As I arrived back from my usual morning walk around 7am, a massive round of firing was heard at my place. I asked my partner Shahnaz, if she noticed that, she said maybe, a routine matter and such incident of firing is taking place almost daily. Then another round of firing started, I told her this is very unusual. It went on for some time.
I live near Jallo Park, and not for from GT Road that leads to Wahgha border. Manawan Police Training Center is on this GT Road and just opposite to our place, around a kilometer away.
I turned to the television, there was not any mention of this firing, but the firing was still going on. Around 7.30am, some private television stations started telling that firing and some blast is heard at Manawan Police Training center and no more details. [...]
Now at 10am, nearly after three hours of the firing, It is now clear from all the reports that terrorist have struck at this center killing at least 20 police trainees and injuring over 100. The firing is still on. I can hear that even at my home, a kilometer away from the scene.
Blogger “Raza Rumi” writes that Lahore is fearful of the future:
Who said that Pakistan was a hub of terrorism - we are now the greatest victim of terror and militancy. The residents of Lahore are scared and the vibrant city seems to be enveloped in a mist of uncertainty and fear. [...]The attack is significant as it happened at a Police training centre. The strategy is clear: to decapacitate the security appratus and to dismantle the civilian security system.
The army has faced similar resistance in the tribal belt and the recent wiping of civilian administration. In Lahore, the army moved and so did the rangers to assist in the finalisation of the operation.
What will happen next? Everyone is apprehensive that this is not the end of the story. There are forces - groups, interests and individuals - who are hellbent on destroying Pakistan. And we the powerless spectators can only watch the great and not-so-great game playing out in front of us…except that one day we could be victims of this fire as well.
It is time that Pakistani state draws up its resolve to fight terror on our soil and not cave in to barbarians - as has been the case before. The US and NATO will have to leave us alone. They cannot let Pakistan fritter away - what good is an ally when you crack its foundations.
Blogger “Faisal” writes that Pakistan must find the culprits and punish them:
Another day dawns in Pakistan with a new attack on our country and people. [...] What is imperative at this moment is for the nation to find out just who it is that is attacking us in this manner again and again. The similarities to the last attack with backpacks and the proximity to India's border cannot be ruled out. We need to capture more than one of these militants and then expose the true face of this terror before the world.
We must take any and all measures neccesary to defend our country from this menace or remain resigned to our fate of becoming another Iraq soon. this includes holding people responsible inside our government for these lapses of security and lack of strategy. The fables of the war to come are seemingly void as the enemy is now at our doorstep.
Another blogger at “Pak Tea House” argues that it does not matter who was behind the attacks — Pakistan should focus on beefing up security:
The question of 'whodunnit" will come up again. I say this: does it matter? If you can't secure your assets and protect your citizens does it matter what the motivation or allegiance of the terrorist is? It is the state's responsibility to protect the life of every one of its citizens. This - the first responsibility of any state- has been forfeited by those in the corridors of power.
[...]We must put our house in order! We must reclaim our land and to do so we must make a clear break from our cold-war past! That is the most important thing.