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Pakistan, the Lahore attack is a clear message from the Taliban to the government

The Lahore bombing carried out by the extremist fringe of the Pakistani Taliban was aimed to send a message to the government. Pakistan is now mourning its victims.

Pakistani army and special operations forces are about to launch a military operation in Punjab region to find the executors and facilitators of the deadly attack in Lahore that killed over 70 people and wounded hundreds on 27 March. According to local media, the army will be given “extraordinary powers” during operations, similar to those granted to Rangers in Karachi over the last 2 years.

“The technicalities are yet to be worked out. There are some legal issues also with bringing in Rangers, but the military and government are on the same page,” said a senior security official based in Lahore on condition of anonymity to newspaper Dawn.

 

According to Radio Pakistan, a series of suspects have been arrested during five raids carried out over the last 48 hours in Lahore, Faisalabad and Multan.

 

Meanwhile, Pakistan has officially started three days of mourning established by the government to commemorate the victims of the suicide bombing, mostly women and kids of the Christian minority who were at Gulshan-i-Iqba Park.

 

 

A clear message to the government

The group that claimed responsibility for the attack, Jamaat-ur-Ahrar, a militant group that split away from the Pakistani Taliban in August 2014, said it was targeting Christians celebrating Easter. However, many Muslims died as well. This is a clear message to Premier Nawazi Sharif, who said in a statement: “Our goal is not only to eliminate terror infrastructure but also the extremist mindset which is a threat to our way of life”.

 

It’s no coincidence that the attackers targeted Lahore: the capital of the Punjab province – which is the country’s largest and richest – is the symbol of the multicultural and multi-religious tradition of Pakistan. The day isn’t accidental as well: the 27th of March, Easter Sunday, coincided with the 40th day of mourning for the execution of Mumtaz Qadri, the man who killed Punjab’s former governor, Salman Taseer, in 2011, which was guilty of proposing a reform on a blasphemy law. Currently, Qadri is celebrated with majestic anti-government rallies. According to many local and international commentators, Lahore attack represents a response to the government for the growing military pressure of the most extremist fringe of the Pakistani Taliban.

Translated by

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