On Tuesday, two powerful bomb blasts killed an estimated 31 people and injured 170 in Lahore. The suicide attacks, which targeted the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) headquarters and an advertising agency in Model Town, garnered major media attention mainly because it was the second attack in Lahore in the past week [see previous CHUP post], and the third since January. The NY Times reported, “Till this year Lahore, Pakistan’s cultural capital in Punjab, the country’s most populous province, had been spared the recent wave of violence that hit Islamabad, the capital, and northwestern Pakistan.” Although there were no immediate claims of responsibility, “the explosions seemed to follow a pattern of recent attacks on law enforcement officials and the Pakistani military by tribal militants.” BBC News added, “They are believed to be in response to army and police operations against the militants.” Model Town is where many senior Pakistani politicians, including Asif Zardari and Nawaz Sharif, have their homes, although a PPP official said the party’s leadership was in Islamabad at the time of the bombings.
Media outlets noted on Wednesday that the blasts were “well-coordinated,” particularly since they occurred just 15 minutes apart in different districts in the city. The Daily Times cited Capital City police officer Malik Muhammad Iqbal, who said the “attackers rammed explosives-laden vehicles into the targets in both the attacks.” The Associated Press echoed, “Grainy footage from a surveillance camera shown on the private Aaj television channel showed the small truck running over a guard and barreling through the unlocked gate seconds before the blast.” The Washington Post quoted the FIA’s Punjab director, Chaudhry Manzoor, who noted that he and at least 200 others were in the building when the bomb exploded. He told the Post, “I saw dozens of officials badly injured and some taking their last breaths.”
It is sad, nay, terrible, that the incessant bombings in Pakistan have merely become a part of our daily reality. As someone who monitors the media cycles for work as well as for this website, I am always fascinated with the reactions documented by the press – bombing occurs, government officials unleash sea of statements condemning said attack, images depict the horrific aftermath, and the next day…we’re back to another story, another issue, another problem. This is the reality of the media and 24 hour news coverage, but this should not be our modus operandi. In reporting and ingesting the details of a suicide blast we are becoming increasingly desensitized, not only to the particular attack at hand, but the ramifications of their increased frequency. An editorial in the Daily Times today sums up my frustration: “Political activism in Pakistan is focused on the restoration of the judiciary and the ouster of President Pervez Musharraf. What the politicians and the media are ignoring at great risk is the country’s response to the takeover of its territories and the virtual free run of the country that the suicide bombers have today.” Yesterday’s bomb blast prompted many Pakistanis to take to the street, chanting slogans against Musharraf without “uttering a word against the terrorists” who committed these atrocities. Isn’t there something wrong with that image? The conclusion of the Daily Times editorial noted: “This draws our attention to the task of the democratically elected politicians to evolve a strategy against terrorism. So far their very rudimentary thoughts on the problem are encapsulated in three words: ‘talk to them.’ This of course is not enough. The people will expect the coalition government to take substantial steps to prevent the suicide-bombers from attacking at will.”