Friday, July 02, 2010

Pakistan: Pakistan is imploding says shocked Pakistanis

By B Raman
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The death of 40 worshippers in twin suicide blasts in a highly venerated sufi shrine of Lahore popularly known as Data Darbar on the night of July 1,2010 has outraged many Pakistanis, who have started wondering whether their Government has lost control over terrorists of its own creation, whether Pakistan is imploding due to religious hatred and violence. Here are some of the comments on the web site of an organisation called All Things Pakistan ( ).

2.Thursday is the congregation day in the shrine when the maximum number of worshippers gather at night (jumaraat). The shrine is considered sacred not only by all Muslims----Shias, Sunnis and Ahmadias--- but also by Hindus . In fact, before Pakistan was born in 1947 a large number of Hindus from all over India used to visit the shrine.

3.The shrine was, in fact, electrified by a Hindu landlord living near the shrine in gratitude for the recovery of his sons from a severe attack of flu. Doctors had given up hopes for their recovery. The landlord believed that it was the saint in whose honour the shrine had been built, who came to his house at night and touched his sons who were in their deathbed. They recovered the next day.

4.Data Darbar is one of the oldest Muslim shrines in the subcontinent. It houses the remains of a Sufi saint, Abul Hassan Ali Hajvery. He was of Persian origin and was born in the 11th century in Ghazni, Afghanistan. From there he migrated to Iraq and spent the last years of his life in Lahore where he died and is buried.

5.No organisation has so far claimed responsibility for the suicide blasts, but the needle of suspicion points to its probably being an act of reprisal against the Pakistan Government by the Jundullah of Iranian Balochistan and the anti-Shia and anti-Iran Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LEJ) of Pakistan in retaliation for the suspected collaboration of Pakistan with Iran in the arrest of Abdolmalek Rigi , the Amir of the Jundullah, who was captured by the Iranian intelligence as he was flying to Kyrgyzstan from Dubai and executed last month after a short trial.

7.The "Dawn" of Karachi has reported as follows on the suicide blasts:

"In the first terrorist attack of its kind in the Punjab capital, two alleged suicide bombers blew themselves up at the Data Ganj Bakhsh shrine on Thursday night, killing at least 40 people and injuring 170 others. The first explosion took place in the basement reserved for ablution and the second in front of the shrine’s main building where a large number of people from across the province gather for worship on Thursdays.

" At first, police announced that some crackers had exploded near the shrine. The two bombers entered the shrine and exploded themselves three minutes apart. Surveillance cameras, walkthrough gates and metal detectors turned out to be ineffective. Around 100 volunteers and several policemen were present in and around the shrine, searching visitors thoroughly.

"Senior Superintendent of Police (Operations) Chaudhry Shafiq Ahmad told Dawn that two suicide attacks had been carried out and investigators had found the bombers’ skulls and limbs. He said ball-bearings and other material used in the blasts had also been collected. Lahore Commissioner Khusro Pervaiz Bakhtiar told journalists at the spot that the bombers had blown themselves up during a large congregation. In reply to a question about involvement of a foreign hand in the attack, he said the strike was a horrible conspiracy but “our own people become instruments in the hands of others”.

" The official said an investigation had been launched about the breach in security measures. According to witnesses, the explosions were so powerful that a large number of people fell down and several of them were injured in a stampede. The shrine’s administration announced seconds after the first blast that a generator had exploded in the basement and they might continue their activities. The bomb disposal squad estimated that 10-15kgs of explosives had been used in each suicide jacket.

" Ambulances of Rescue 1122 and the Edhi Foundation took the bodies and injured people to hospitals. According to a devotee, two gates on the north and south side of the shrine, which usually remain closed, were open on Thursday. He suspected that the bombers had entered through those gates. Scores of enraged people gathered outside the shrine and protested against terror attacks. They also damaged public and private property. There were reports that a cracker was exploded before the suicide blasts to create a panic.

"Police evacuated Data Darbar to collect evidence and carry out rescue work. All commercial and residential buildings adjoining the shrine were also searched for suspects. Following the blasts, an extensive crackdown was launched across the city and several people were detained for interrogation. A suspect was also taken into custody near the Darbar. Rumours of terror attacks on other shrines in the city panicked devotees and police also launched a search operation there. Security was beefed up in and around all shrines and religious places." (2-7-10)

The writer is Additional Secretarty( retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies.