Nothing is sacred anymore

Published: July 3, 2010
The writer is a former TV morning show host (

The writer is a former TV morning show host (

The attack on Data Darbar has left Pakistanis shocked. It is not because of a high death toll or the magnitude of the assault – we have seen much worse over the past decade – but due to the location where the attack took place. Data Darbar, the shrine of Sufi saint Hazrat Syed Ali bin Usman Hajveri, is the country’s most popular and renowned. It attracts a massive amount of people every day from all strata of society. One of my first thoughts on hearing of the suicide explosions was that nothing is sacred anymore, and I have seen this thought resound. The Darbar is a landmark in Lahore. More importantly, it is a symbol of a side of Islam that is dear to Pakistanis, especially in these times. It is the liberal peace-loving faith as practised by the Sufis, the mystics and indeed, generations of the subcontinent. This Islam that many believe to be the true aspect of the religion has been and is under threat by the extremists.

Subsequent to the three-pronged suicide blasts, there has been much talk of the laxity of security. The authorities had information that an attack could take place in Lahore, and they failed to protect the area. Please repeat that phrase to yourself and listen to it carefully. How could the authorities possibly have prepared for an attack that could have targeted anyone, anywhere? Would you turn the entire place into a garrison city with checkposts at every corner? And do we not know from experience that no matter how heavily guarded a building might be. And if the terrorists managed to penetrate security at the supposedly impenetrable GHQ, the very bastion of security in this country, then what is a shrine that sees hundreds of people pass its doors on an ordinary day?

The answer to our problem is not to increase security, and to have more goons sitting around harassing us citizens. Nor is it to place cameras on every street corner because that would just create a modern version of Big Brother and we would feel as if we are being always watched.

The answer is for the state to give up the ghost of the good Taliban and bad Taliban. There is no such thing. The organisations that have spread this kind of violence in the country have never had any serious action taken against them. Parties such as the Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-i-Muhammad, Sipah-i-Sahaba, and countless others that we call ‘banned’ or ‘outlawed’ keep changing their names, but continue to flourish. Their benefactors both within Pakistan and without persist in financially and morally empowering them. They keep hoping that the creation of these monsters will bear fruit. The state must realise that the very root of the tree is rotten, and all it can bear is poison for the people of Pakistan.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 4th, 2010.

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Reader Comments (13)

  • faraz
    Jul 4, 2010 - 2:23AM

    Well Isreal has managed to stop suicide bombing. Few days back 30,000 kilograms of TNT was recovered from different areas in Lahore; isnt it the failure of our supposedly feared agencies. There was precise information about GHQ attacks but no security plans were formulated. There was information about Data Darbar attacks and a scanner was installed which did activate when the bomber passsed through it, but the police had no idea how to stop a bomber once he is identified! Common sense suggests that a scanner should have been placed not at the gate but some 15-20 meters before it.Recommend

  • Faseeha Arjumand
    Jul 4, 2010 - 8:49AM

    Fringe extremists created by ultra-conservative mullahs who refuse to condemn suicide bombing are to blame for this increasing brutal mayhem. Recommend

  • muhammad amjad
    Jul 4, 2010 - 12:52PM

    These are not fringe or a small no. of fanatics.The target is one of the majority sect’s most sacred places,but the hate,intolerance & dogma are representative of the vast majority of the pakistanis.The majority of pakistanis won’t ever want anything to harm mazars,but the at the press conference of the barelvi maulvis,right behind them was a banner declaring the other sect members as “kafirs” & “wajibulqatal”.This is the problem itself,not that one sect is better than the other ones,but that all the sects enjoy declaring the other kafirs and deserving of death.This business of declaring kafir & wajibulqatal wasn’t condemned by any anchor or newscaster.The barelvi & other sects support the same women oppressing,intolerant,bigoted beliefs that the taliban do,only the beliefs regarding the mazaars & saints are different.The hate,intolerance & oppression of women are the same across all the sects.Recommend

  • Umayr Masud
    Jul 4, 2010 - 1:12PM

    The problem is the police, the judiciary , the army and the people of this country believe that Islam is what the Mullah preaches in the jumma prayer. The brainwashing is much deeper than just talking about good or bad taliban .. its within. Like all muslim countries we should’ve had mosques officially built and placed with moulvi’s by the government. Too late now .. time to reap Recommend

  • Mubashir Zaidi
    Jul 4, 2010 - 1:25PM

    It Is An Eye Opener For Punjab And Federal Governments
    As What Our Agencies And Police Are Doing Is Nothing, Millions Of
    Rupees Is Being Spent On Salaries But Result Is ‘0’…..Punjab
    Government Should Have To Take Action Against Extremists Instead Of
    Discussing Whether They Are Punjabi Talibans Or …Pakhtuns….It
    … Is The Result Of Wrong Policy Of Punjab That They Are Giving
    Donations To Banned Organizations And Getting Supports In Elections

  • Asif Ahmad
    Jul 4, 2010 - 3:40PM

    I fully agree with Umayr. Free hand to the Mullahs along with the facility of the pulpit has led to all this. Couldn’t our rulers and government functionaries sense it when there was time? It is impossible now to put the genie back into the bottle unless there is a drastic revolutionary movement for it. (The million dollar question is who will bell the cat). Looks like we will have to live with this life wrecking nuisance!Recommend

  • Jul 4, 2010 - 4:10PM

    Ditto !
    This is exactly the first thought that appeared in my mind..but then IF i take a look back at the numerous other attempts that were made on shrines of other Sufi saints i realized this is the same ‘sect’ that has been active for the past many years.

    Just for the sake of record and facts below are the incidents that happened.

    May, 2005: Islamabad, Suicide attack on Imam Bari’s shrine.

    Mar, 2008: Peshawar, Lashkar-e-Islam tried destroying the 400 years old shrine of Abu Saeed Baba.

    Mar, 2009: Peshawar, The famous shrine of Sufi Poet Rehman Baba was tried to blown off as ‘Unknown’ terrorists planted bomb with the pillars of the shrine.

    May, 2009: Khyber Agency, The outer wall of the Shrine of Ameer Hamza Khan was destroyed due to a planted explosive.

    The above mentioned facts and figures are the ones which were reported, we don’t even know how many have been demolished/destroyed earlier..

    Solution to the problem: Crack down an operation, Hunt them all one by one. But then it is not possible, cos IF the govt will do this, who’s gonna carry out all those things for the govt.

    I wish Musharraf would come back and is given the charge..

    Sir Musharraf we need you, Pakistan needs you !Recommend

  • Jul 4, 2010 - 4:35PM

    Most of sacred and innocent lovely praise for the creator of this world, the Prophet, and people associated (spiritually and otherwise) with him is Jahiliya and Bida. This has been ‘persistently’ promoted consciously in Pakistan. During the Zia regime a more active state patronage enabled such an ideology to catapult newly converted (wealthy and needy alike) towards multi-dimensional warfare. We will face these types of attacks unless a serious intellectual challenge does not emerge from the Sufi ranks of Islam – not only Pakistan but at the global levels. We have more enemies right here not out there. May we all be safe in the times to come!Recommend

  • Abd
    Jul 4, 2010 - 7:16PM

    I believe all of our problems lie in our defective education system rather than enhancing an individuals capability to understand matters the students in schools are taught to memorise facts and figures so that they might have a better future financially IF our education system had developed the minds of the people passing through schools in such a way that they know what is morally and ethically right and what is not and seeing as how brain washing is a part of how suicide bombings take place and since suicide bombing incidents are at a rise would’nt a morally educated person be harder to brainwash?? regardless of his financial state he would know that killing innocent people IN a religious place is wrong or he would at least question the logic behind the bombings and IF our education system had done this we would not be in this state which prevails presently and also be producing leaders CAPABLE of leading a nation and ourselve be capable of choosing the right leadersRecommend

  • Jul 4, 2010 - 7:32PM

    The author refers to “a massive amount of people”! So, ordinary Pakistanis – excepting the privileged class to which the author presumably belongs – are now reduced to a commodity, to be disposed of at will!

    I made a comment at another article similar to this one:

    “When the attack on Ahmadis took place and people were falling over themselves to denounce the persecution of the Ahmadi community, I felt that the overwhelming emotional reaction had missed some sinister element behind that attack, which was politically motivated. Whether it was Ahmadis who died, or some other community, was beside the point. I see the latest atrocity in Lahore as part of the same sinister plan.

    What we have to ask is: who will benefit from the spread of terror and insecurity in Pakistan? Pakistan’s descent into hell has been preceded by similar experiences in two places: Iraq and Afghanistan. What is the common factor between them? You don’t need rocket science to work that out – all you need is simple common sense and some basic honesty.

    Do always bear in mind that mischief making is the official policy of the USA government and it has perfected a fool-proof way to throw sand into the eyes of the world. The way the Americans do it is to swing their formidable propaganda machine into action and rubbish all criticism as “conspiracy theories”. The best example I can give you is the farce of 9/11, following which Karl Rove, Bush’s White House supremo, said:

    “We’re an empire now and when we act we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality we’ll act again, creating other new realities”.

    The evidence of the 9/11 atrocity was quickly destroyed and the case presented by the USA government did not fit the facts. Still, the USA government linked this extremely sophisticated attack to a group of people in backward Afghanistan, where they lacked the resources to execute that attack. No attempt has been made to provide credible evidence linking that outrage to the group in Afghanistan and yet the obsequious Pakistanis – and, surprisingly, the rest of the world – have swallowed all the lies and false accusations!

    Let us learn to think critically: what you see may only be an illusion, hiding an ugly reality underneath. That ugly reality behind the attempts to terrorise the civilian population of Pakistan is the increasing USA pressure on Pakistan to send its troops into North Waziristan. Pakistani lives are dirt cheap when it comes to achieving the evil designs of USA politicians.”Recommend

  • Junaid
    Jul 4, 2010 - 10:18PM

    If the blower had to blow autumn leaves off the roads i.e. has a steady job, has to feed his family, he wouldn’t have the TIME to succumb to all these evil organizations. So we figure out the root cause is lack of education and opportunities at the very bottom of all this ugliness and lets not forget, the fruits of education can only be reaped in a two-generation fold so a guy like me who is a fortnight away to be turning 27, and a smoker, might not live to witness the Garden of Eden we might turn our country into, but lets do it for our children shall we? And I don’t understand why people who are educated enough to be reading online articles, writing blogs would be so naive to be still yearning for Musharraf? Wasn’t those 9 years enough of a chance already? Name any institution that he has reformed in his tenure? NIL.. He had only made things worse. He knew it that ignorance was the soul of all this terrorism we face. So how many universities he inaugurated to embark as the first step to stop this nonsense? Recommend

  • Jul 4, 2010 - 10:54PM

    I’m really impressed by this column on the carnage at the Data Darbar. No, doubt, The Tribune has made a special place for itself among the readers.Recommend

  • darrumaz
    Jul 5, 2010 - 2:38PM

    It is no more relavent to talk of ethics and morals ( in this our land of pure at last),mony will huy anything bars and lawers,human right activists,TV channels , commentators, Anchors, how they change their stance overnight is suprising.mony, mony, mony….mony will buy anything…….. Recommend

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