This post is a response to the editorial that was published in The Nation on Saturday 3rd September. The editorial talks about the suicide attack in Quetta on Eid:
That these incidents occurred on Eid also highlighted the fact that, instead of praying for the prosperity and progress of the country on this sacred occasion, the perpetrators committed these deeds instead, making one doubt that they could have been Muslims. This gives rise to the suspicion that the perpetrators of these and other deeds of terrorism may well have been penetrated by India, particularly after it obtained consulates in Afghanistan from the Karzai regime.
Previously, the militants, who claimed that they were following the precepts of Islam, were careful enough to leave aside religious festivals, and it goes without mentioning that the biggest religious festival of Islam was among them. Now that this taboo has been broken, the government needs to be particularly vigilant at the next Eid, due in just over two months, and Ashura and its related gatherings.
The Nation claims that in the past, militants have not carried out attacks on religious festivals and holidays. Research into past militant attacks, however, reveals that this is not true. Actually, terrorists have been carrying out attacks at mosques, religious events, and Islamic institutions in Pakistan for years.
There have been dozens of attacks on mosques and other Islamic institutions and festivals in Pakistan over the years. Some of those incidents are listed as follows:
On 31st August, a suicide bomber detonated in a parked car outside a Quetta mosque, killing 11 people after Eid prayers.
A few weeks earlier, more than 40 people were killed in a suicide attack at a mosque in Jamrud in the Khyber tribal agency just after Friday prayers ended. This is during the holy month of Ramadan.
In April, the Taliban killed 41 people in a double suicide attack on a Sufi shrine (considered a holy place by some) in Dera Ghazi Khan in an attack on minority religious groups.
In March, at least 10 people were killed and 37 injured when a powerful bomb exploded in a mosque adjacent to the historic shrine of Akhun Panjo Baba in Akbarpura after Friday prayers.
In January, suicide attacks targeting Shia religious processions in Lahore and Karachi killed 16 people. The Fedayeen-e-Islam, a subgroup of the Pakistani Taliban, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, and Jaish-e-Mohammed, claimed credit for the Lahore attack.
All of the attacks listed above took place since the past eight months. But terrorist attacks on religious occasions and places are not new. Actually, this was not even the first time an attack took place on the sacred occasion of Eid.
In 2006, 22 people were killed and dozens wounded in a suicide attack during an Ashura procession in Hangu. 20 more people were killed and 60 injured by a suicide bomb attack during another Ashura procession in Karachi in 2009. Ashura processions were not attacked in 2008, but only because police arrested five militants, including a suicide bomber, who were plotting attacks before they could carry them out.
In 2007, on the eve of Eid ul-Adha, a suicide bomb blast again targeted Aftab Ahmad Sherpao killing at least 57 and injuring over 100 at Jamia Masjid Sherpao, in Charsadda District.
In 2009, a suicide bomber killed five and injured 12 people at a girls’ religious school in Pishin district of Balochistan.
Also in 2009, at least 32 persons were killed and 85 others injured in a powerful suicide blast during funeral procession of a Shia elder, and more than 30 Shia Pakistani worshippers were killed and more than 50 wounded in a devastating suicide attack outside a mosque in the town of Dera Ghazi Khan.
In one of the most brutal and brazen attacks, as reported by Geo, a suicide assault team stormed a mosque that is frequented by Army officers. Forty persons were martyred, including children, and over 80 others injured in the terror attack at Parade Lane mosque in Rawalpindi.
Even religious clerics are not safe from militants, a fact proven when a suicide bomber killed five Pakistanis, including anti-Taliban cleric Dr. Sarfraz Naeemi, in an attack on a mosque in Lahore during Friday prayers.
As we can see most of these attacks took place on Mosques while prayers were in progress or people were getting ready for prayers. Since Friday prayers hold importance for Muslims, militants target mosques at Jumma Prayer times. These attacks, however, as clearly shown above have not been limited to mosques and include funeral processions, madrassas and religious congregations.
Neither are The Nation newspaper’s suspicions that perpetrators may have risen from India ignores the fact that responsibility for attacks has consistently been claimed by militant extremist groups such as Laskhar-e-Janghvi and Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan who consider as ‘takfiri’ anyone who does not accept their extremist ideology.
It is important that prominent newspapers like The Nation condemn terrorism as they did in their editorial on 3rd September, but it is equally important that these condemnations tell the facts about terrorists and not make excuses for them, even unintentionally, by perpetuating conspiracy theories that confuse the masses about who is responsible. The fact is, terrorists have no taboos.