Lahore is yet again attacked, this Thursday. This time the militants targeted devotees at the shrine of Hazrat Ali Hajveri, popularly known as Data Ganj Bakhsh, one of the earliest saints to introduce this land to Sufism and its spirit of brotherhood. It is tragic that the safety of devotees at the shrine of one revered, as Lahore’s protectors should be dependent today on the little security that administration provides in these times. The response that some came up with was no less disappointing. The most common reaction a day after the Data Darbar tragedy was, that these attackers cannot be ‘one of us’. People, in a desperate attempt to disown the terrorists and their acts, were again eager to point fingers at anti-Pakistan, anti-Islam elements outside the country. A similar pattern of thought was reflected in the statements of some government officials as well. Their attitude does not stem from apathy, criminal negligence or incompetence. It is part of a deliberate policy. Perhaps there is a fear of the consequences involved in the identification of the terrorists. Surely it is part of a strategy which says that the only way we can survive is by pretending that we have no enemies at home.
Just how much data do we need to unearth the truth? Mounting evidence points to the monumental flaws in our theories of self-preservation. The clues to local involvement provided by terror incidents of the past aside, the attack on Data Darbar should leave no doubt in anyone’s mind just how expansive the designs of the terrorists are and how easy it is for them to find recruits in the vicinity of a planned strike anywhere in Pakistan. While details are coming in and ‘investigation is under way’, initial reports say one of the suicide bombers who blew himself up at Data Darbar belonged not to Waziristan nor to southern Punjab but to a suburb of Lahore. He apparently belonged to the Barki Hadiara area which makes him as much a Lahorite as the large number of people killed in the blast. His involvement is indicative of the expanse governments in the country themselves need to cover once they have decided to fight terrorism in earnest. The government action — call it operation or whatever — will have to go much beyond Waziristan or southern Punjab or any particular region. It will have to be a campaign that covers the entire country.
This attack on data darbar is not just an attack on a shrine but an attack on our history, culture and religious tradition; it is an attack on a place which is a home to thousands of homeless men and women. It is a shelter for many orphans, beggars, and poverty-stricken people of Lahore. Many invaders have come into the sub continent but no one has the valor to attack on these holy shrines of Lahore, but 1st time in the 800 years of data darbar, terrorists attack the shrine of Hazrat Ali Hjaveri, the one referred to as ‘Wali Allah’.