Yet another Sufi shrine that of renowned saint Kaker Gul, also known as Kaka Shah, has been attacked on the outskirts of Nowshera. The attack came on October 28, at around 1.30pm, when a large number of people were present to pay their respects to a much-loved holy man on the occasion of Eidul Azha. Four persons were killed, while 21 were injured. Many were rushed to the Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar, where a number of them continue to be treated. Tough security measures put in place at the shrine could not prevent the blast, which, of course, follows a pattern that has persisted for nearly eight years. Shrines housing the graves of Sufi saints have been targeted across the country, most notably in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, and quite obviously by forces who oppose their message of tolerance, love and brotherhood. Such thinking, which had for years shaped religious belief in the region, runs diametrically opposite to the views of the Taliban and others of their ilk.
Interior Minister Rehman Malik, through his Twitter account, has stated that the bomb which struck the shrine was detonated through an illegal SIM. Given the past experience of blocking SIMs by the government, sceptics may say that one cannot be sure that this is accurate information — or if it is being used merely to justify the blockade of mobile phone services in major cities on the morning of Eid. However, the possibility that the tiny, innocuous-looking card has turned into a lethal weapon is a rather terrifying thought.
Even more terrifying though is the fact that evil forces remain determined to alter the manner in which people live, how they think and where they go. In many places, people now shy away from visiting shrines, fearful of what might happen should they do so. This is a cultural and social tragedy. But it is a good omen that the annual urs at the shrine of Rehman Baba, blown up in 2009 in Peshawar, did take place this year after large-scale reconstruction work, allowing people to be united again with one of those Sufi saints they revere the most and who has, for centuries, acted as a source of guidance for millions.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 30th, 2012.