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HRCP condemns Lahore massacre

Zohra YosafLahore: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has strongly condemned Sunday’s brutal bombing in Lahore and expressed grave concern over the militants’ ability to launch devastating attacks despite the ongoing crackdown. HRCP also expressed alarm over a violent crowd arriving unhindered in the federal capital from Rawalpindi and staging a sit-in in a high security zone near parliament.

In a statement released to the media on Monday, the Commission said: “Our heart goes out to the families who lost loved ones in the massacre at Gulshan-e-IqbalPark on Sunday. Many of the victims were children, who fell prey to a suicide bomber who chose to detonate his explosives near the park’s play area. A Taliban faction has reportedly claimed responsibility for this reprehensible deed, which it said targeted Christians celebrating Easter.

“The purported claim of responsibility apparently included a statement that the militants had ‘arrived in Punjab’. That arrival might neither be quite so recent nor surprise a lot of people.

“The Gulshan-e-Iqbal attack should be an eye-opener for those running the country’s security policy as it demonstrates that despite a rather sustained crackdown, the militants retain the ability to carry out devastating attacks.

“Amid the prevailing security situation, it is difficult to understand why there was practically no security at the park, particularly when there were big crowds in the area because of the Easter holiday.

“HRCP does not claim any expertise on matters of security or intelligence but it is easy to agree that a failure on both counts played into the hands of those who have infinite thirst for blood.

“It is in this respect that the citizens’ frustration and condemnation of authorities who are quick to offer condolences but slow to take real steps to improve security must be understood.

“Equally reprehensible are the riots near parliament by supporters of Mumtaz Qadri, a former Punjab police guard hanged last month for assassinating Punjab governor Salman Taseer. The rioters were part of a somewhat larger crowd that had attended Qadri’s chehlum in Rawalpindi.

“It is surprising that such a large and violent crowd easily managed to reach the federal capital from Rawalpindi. It is a matter of inquiry whether that was made possible because of any supporters among the ranks of the police tasked with stopping the protesters, or plain incompetence of the administration. We hope that the authorities would be able to prevent further loss to public and private property and manage the crowd without any unwarranted use of force.

“On the same day, students affiliated with a religious party attacked media personnel and damaged their vehicles and equipment outside the Karachi Press Club. They, too, were protesting the hanging of Qadri. The police arrived only after the protesters had fled.

“The government would be well advised to take stock of the elements lacking in the strategy to fight terrorism and extremism that made the appalling attack in Lahoreand the frenzied charge on Islamabad possible.

“The protesters’ actions and some of their demands are reminiscent of the Lal Masjid episode a few years earlier. The reprehensible events that unfolded in Lahore and Islamabad, as well as in Karachi, on Sunday require a thorough assessment of all efforts aimed at bringing the state to its knees through mindless violence and massacre of innocent citizens.”

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