Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Monday said the government will not rest until they have avenged ‘every last drop of countrymen’s blood’.
“Those who are fomenting terrorism, sectarian hatred and extremism will not be allowed to flee and will face justice,” he said while addressing the nation in the aftermath of a terrorist attack in Lahore targeting the Christian community.
“The terrorists, being deprived of their refuges and training centres, have now resorted to targeting soft targets such as parks and schools.”
At least 72 people, including 29 children, were killed and 233 were wounded in a blast near Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park, Allama Iqbal Town in Lahore on Sunday.
The prime minister said armed forces of the country, police and the civil institutions sacrificed their lives under the Operation Zarb-e-Azb to uproot terrorism.
While many objectives under this operation have been achieved, efforts have continued to eradicate the menace completely, he added.
He said the government, since taking oath in June 2013, had vowed to eliminate terrorism and faced the fact that no one had confronted the menace for the last 13 years.
Do not take leniency for weakness
In an apparent reference to the protests in Islamabad by pro-Mumtaz Qadri demonstrators, the PM said Islam was a religion of peace, and did not teach to cause damage to lives or property.
“Government’s leniency in this regard should not be taken as the state’s weakness or vulnerability of security forces,” the PM said, adding that protecting lives and property of the masses was the government’s responsibility.
“By far, the government remained patient so the elements trying to provoke people’s religious sentiments may not succeed.”
He added, “But let me make it clear that provoking anger, those fomenting the fire of hate and inciting sectarianism and creating difficulties for the masses will be brought before justice at all costs.”
Terrorism a global phenomenon
The premier said Pakistan was not a victim of terrorism alone but many other parts of the world were plagued by it.
“We witnessed that this challenge is being faced by the entire world, evident in the recent incidents in Ankara, Istanbul, Brussels and Paris,” he said. “The enemies of humanity have crossed geographical and ethical boundaries and limits [to fulfill their designs],” “But I want to make it clear that these terrorists have nowhere to live in our country.”
Earlier this morning, the premier directed the law enforcement agencies to step up counter-terror operations and their abettors in southern Punjab, and ensure proactive coordination between law enforcement and intelligence agencies.
The premier, flanked by interior minister Chaudhry Nisar, also visited Jinnah Hospital and inquired after the health of those injured in the attack.
Following the attack, Pakistan Army along-with intelligence agencies and Rangers launched five joint operations in Lahore, Faisalabad and Multan and arrested a number of suspected terrorists and their facilitators while recovering arms and ammunition.
A Pakistan Taliban splinter group Jamaatul Ahrar claimed responsibility for the deadly suicide attack, saying Christians were their target.
Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif announced a compensation of Rs1 million for the family of each deceased, Rs0.3 million for the injured and Rs0.15 million or those who received minor injuries in the incident.
Condemnations poured in from local as well as global leaders, as the US, British, Indian and Turkish premiers, UN chief, Pope Francis, Nobel laureate Malala and others condemned the attack in strongest terms.