Pakistanis express shock, over mosques carnage

For a country that has witnessed dozens of terrorist assaults over past few years, the shock expressed by Pakistanis over carnage has been unprecedented.

Updated: May 29, 2010, 21:55 PM IST

Islamabad/Lahore: For a country that has
witnessed dozens of terrorist assaults over the past few
years, the shock and revulsion expressed by Pakistanis today
over the carnage at two mosques of the minority Ahmedi sect
has been unprecedented.

Members of the Ahmedi sect have often been assaulted
or gunned down in targeted attacks since the Pakistani
parliament adopted a law in 1974 that declared them
non-Muslims but observers say yesterday’s attacks marked the
first time their places of worship have been subjected to
coordinated attacks by militants.

The headline in the Dawn newspaper said `Ahmadis slain
as they prayed` while the headline on the front page of The
News simply read: `Deadly Friday!`.

Newspaper reports gave graphic details of the storming
of the two mosques by terrorists armed with suicide vests,
grenades and assault rifles.

On entering the prayer halls, they lobbed grenades and
fired indiscriminately. When three attackers at one mosque
were cornered by police, they blew themselves up.

Ninety-five people were killed and over 100 injured
in the attacks.

In an editorial titled `Terror in Lahore`, the Dawn
questioned why "were the attackers able to enter the premises
so easily, especially at sites known to be targets?" It said
"authorities should have been at a heightened state of alert
as banners denouncing religions other than Islam had appeared
in parts of Lahore recently."

The News daily, in its editorial, said the attacks at
places of worship were "a testament to how fanaticism can
rouse the savage within men and what inhumanity, religious
intolerance, if allowed to grow unchecked, can lead to".

The attacks were a continuation of the violence
directed at Ahmedis since the 1950s, it said.

The Express Tribune, in its editorial, said the
attacks "are more or less an inevitable outcome of the
intolerance and bigotry found in Pakistan today, we say
`today` because while it began many years ago and was
facilitated actively by the state during General Zia`s days,
it persists and has perhaps grown stronger than ever."

There was considerable discussion of the attacks in
Pakistan`s active internet community, with blogs and websites
buzzing with outrage at the carnage.