Government officials in Pakistan say a car bomb that killed more than two dozen people and wounded hundreds in the city of Lahore could be retaliation for the Pakistani military’s month-long war on the Taliban.
Lahore, the country’s second-largest city, is near the border with India, hundreds of miles away from the battle lines in Swat Valley. Until recently, Lahore was considered safe from militant attacks, but no longer, after the third deadly terrorist attack in Lahore since March.
Alex Thier of the United States Institute of Peace joins Martin Savidge to discuss the bombing, public opinion about the government offensive and the refugee situation in Swat and the surrounding region.
Twitter user tahiriqbal in Lahore posted updates from near the site of the blast:
bomb blast in lahore probably near mall road. many windows in my building in Chamber of Commerce Building have broken. God Bless All
gun firing also heard aftr lahore blast. Im sitting next to the window. Thank God it didn't break. you can imagine wht might’ve happened
Shana, an interior designer working in Lahore, felt the blast and writes about her hope that peace can be restored in Pakistan:
A little while ago, there was a sudden strange bang at the window. [...]I was worried. I opened the blinds, and everything seemed the same.
A colleague right near me did not notice busy with his photocopying, and as I stepped out and asked a few others near windows if they had heard or felt anything, (”Was there a bang at the window here?” to puzzled looks) I relaxed when they had not. I did not want to alarm them. Then twenty minutes later I heard that there has indeed been an explosion on Mall Road.
I have asked myself this before.
Afterall there is a huge crisis in the country, - a war in the scenic northern areas of Pakistan as the army finally moves into areas terrorized by militants distorting Islam's teachings, causing a huge wave of people fleeing the crisis and in dire straits in the extreme heat and poor conditions.
One could feel slightly guilty over wanting to be immersed in and taking delight in beautiful interior and design pictures that reflect luxury.
But I realize what it is about loving to look through beautiful pictures of homes: Not just a love of aesthetics but dreams and desires reflected : Peace, security, happiness and comfort, and identity. Serene, entertaining mirrors to human life, if you will.
Home is, or is supposed to be, the ultimate haven, where we can just be. Be safe and free to be our selves especially.
And it's okay to want that, and only natural in times like this. Any place is home that holds beautiful hearts at peace with themselves and one another - living and letting live. I wish Pakistan and all the countries of the world would just become home then.
Blogger Hasan Mubarak in Lahore criticizes the government for not considering the ramifications of its offensive:
It was not unexpected after the Government launched an all-out military action against the militants in SWAT that they will hit back harder this time. Again, the phenomenon of suicide bombings is not new; we have now been going through this for the last two years while losing thousands of innocent people and a former Prime Minister. What's new is the scale and sophistication of these blasts.
[...]There is no doubt about the fact that terrorism is Pakistan's own problem but equally true is the fact that local elements are getting strong support from external forces. We were facing the challenge which was already unberable and then our Government started a military campaign in populated areas of SWAT. Why was it difficult for our Government to understand the scale of humanitarian crisis resulting from such a major offensive? Today we have forced civilians to flee their homes, abandon their crops, cattle and belongings only to face rejection and unacceptance by political and societal forces in their own country.
Today's incident on Lower Mall should be attributed to the mistakes of our past. But the way we are dealing with the crisis in Swat and resulting displacement in millions, we are only breweing ground for a darker and more insecure future.
Blogger Muhammad Khan takes a different tone, praising the government and arguing that Wednesday’s bombing reflects desperation on the part of the Taliban:
This latest attack [...] demonstrate[s] that terrorists are now frustrated and they them selves believe that soon they will be history.
God bless our security forces. Whole Pakistan is proud of them.