What should have been a pleasant weekend outing turned into a nightmare for dozens of families who had thronged to the popular food street in Old Anarkali in Lahore on the evening of July 6. An explosive device, placed in a freezer located outside a restaurant, went off as people dined, killing five, including a six-year-old girl. Over 40 others were injured, as the crowded area was thrown into chaos by the blast.
Terrorism is, of course, the first motive which comes to mind, with people asking if the scourge has returned to a Punjab which had remained largely peaceful for months. In past years, there have been attacks on juice kiosks frequented by young couples, CD shops and theatres, but in this case, no element of “morality” seems visible. The warped thinking of extremists should, however, not be forgotten; while eating out or strolling along a street lined with cafes would, for almost all of us count as an entirely innocent activity, it is worth keeping in mind that some years ago, threats were made to restaurants in Quetta hosting families, on the basis that women should be kept away from public places.
All the various possible angles need to be looked into. The police investigating the blast have noted that shrapnel or ball bearings — the hallmark of militants intending to inflict maximum damage — were not found. This has led to conjecture that business rivalry may have been behind the blast. This has happened before. Terrorism can also be used to disguise other crime. A careful investigation is required to get to the bottom of the matter. Top police officials in the city must ensure this is carried out properly, so that the perpetrators can be identified. Acts of violence, such as the one at Old Anarkali, add an unwanted element of fear to the lives of citizens. It is crucial that they be prevented and this can happen only if law enforcers are able to determine who is behind this latest incident and what they hoped to achieve by unleashing so much terror on people spending an evening away from their homes.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 9th, 2013.
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Hitting and terrifying common people reflect a worse form of the insecurity. A concrete and cohesive security policy for public places is the need of present time.