The horrific suicide bombings which claimed over 40 lives on Thursday night at the shrine of the revered sufi poet Hazrat Daata Ganj Baksh, the patron saint of Lahore, are a gory reminder of the urgent need for all concerned to join forces against ‘terror’.
A little over a year ago, after the attack on the Sri Lankan cricketers in Lahore in March 2009, Siddharth Varadarajan urged India and Pakistan to forget the conspiracies and acknowledge that they face the same threat – ‘Lahore attack shows urgency of joint action on terror‘.
He suggested that “Cricket is the most visible icon of secular Pakistan, and perhaps the only competitor militant Islam faces in its struggle to tame the wayward Pakistani mind”. My response was that there is another, even more deep-rooted competitor that militant Islam faces – the deep-rooted, widespread adherence to Sufi Islam and values, superstition, taweez dhaga etc. “I fear (hope hope hope I am wrong) a major attack on any urs taking place at any of the major shrines any time soon,” I wrote at the time.
Two days later Hazrat Baba Rehman’s shrine outside Peshawar was attacked, thankfully without any casualties.
Today, as a tweet doing the rounds puts it, for the first time in 927 years Daata’s langar is closed – the free kitchen that that has fed countless hungry people for nearly a thousand years. For once even the Jamaat-e-Islami condemned a suicide attack and termed it haram (unIslamic).
Across the border in India, the attack in Lahore reverberated among the Khadim community in Ajmer, as Shoeb Khan of the Times News Network reported from Jaipur: The Lahore shrine has a deep historical and spiritual connection with the 12th century shrine of Khawaja Moinuddin Chisthi in Ajmer.
“The Lahore shrine has a chilla (a seat of prayer) where Khawaja prayed for 40 days before he left for Ajmer via Multan and Delhi,” said Syed Sarwar Chishty, Gaddi Nasheen, Dargah Ajmer who has visited the Lahore shrine thrice. He said he had called the shrine authorities and offered condolences. He blamed the Taliban for the attack, describing the conservative Wahabbi group as a threat to India, Pakistan and entire humanity.
Varadarajan’s analysis back in March 2009 is as relevant today as it was then: “The kind of threat terrorism poses requires a joint effort by both India and Pakistan, and not the reiteration of meaningless phrases like all options are open. Finding ways to encourage Pakistani cooperation and, more generally, to stabilise that country, are the most important challenges facing Indian diplomacy.”
In addition, what’s direly needed is “a shift in national culture (to) rescue the soul of Pakistan’s Islamic traditions”, as freelance journalist Mustafa Quadri put it in a heartfelt comment in The Guardian this morning, After the Lahore shrine bombings, nothing seems sacred. I’d like to add to that: What’s also direly needed is to actually implement the law and initiate criminal proceedings against those involved in criminal acts.
p.s. Is the arrest of ten suspects in the massacre of some 100 Ahmedis in Lahore just a month ago an indication that the Punjab government is waking up to the challenge?
Bottom line: Things will get worse before they get better. The law must be implemented. Pakistan and India must cooperate.
Filed under: Pakistan-India Tagged: | ajmer, baba rehman peshawar, daata darbar lahore, data darbar, Lahore, militant islam, Moinuddin Chishti, siddharth varadarj, sri lankan cricket attack, suicide bombing