Wednesday, February 15, 2017
The Lahore bombing and Pakistan's misplaced priorities
While Pakistani authorities were busy banning Valentine's Day and cracking down on those planning to celebrate it, a suicide bomber killed 13 people at a rally. What does the incident say about the country's priorities?
Prior to Monday's terrorist attack in the eastern city of Lahore, authorities had been raiding gift shops in urban centers, arresting fun-loving youngsters for buying kites for the basant (spring festival) or heart-shaped balloons and chocolates for Valentine's Day.
The crackdown on those wanting to celebrate Valentine's Day will continue on Tuesday in compliance with the orders of a court in Islamabad that decided to ban the "Christian" and "Western" event. For Pakistani authorities, Valentine's Day celebrations are "immoral," "vulgar," and not in accordance with Islamic teachings.
Amid this security clampdown on a benign activity, a suicide bomber belonging to the Jamat-ul-Ahrar faction of the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) snuck into a protest rally in Lahore and blew himself up. At least 13 people were killed and some 85 were injured.
Pakistanis are angry not only because another terrorist attack has claimed so many lives, but also because they feel the priorities of the state are totally misplaced. Instead of acting against banned militant groups, the government is banning cultural events, and ironically, the intention is to appease Islamic groups.