As reports of the dead continue, America is mourning for Pakistan’s terrible loss from a suicide bombing at a Sufi shrine in Lahore. So far, at least 50 people are confirmed dead and over 175 injured by a barbaric triple-suicide bombing in the capital of Pakistan’s Punjab province, the second largest city in the nation.
The attack was part of a pattern of increased violence in Pakistan’s heartland, the province of Punjab, a troubling expansion of the Taliban insurgency tormenting the country’s western border.
“This is a barbaric attack,” wrote Raza Ahmed Rumi, a Pakistani expert on Sufism, on his Web site. The shrine, he said, “is not just another crowded place — it represents a millennia of tolerant Sufi Islam which is directly under attack by the puritans.”
The bombers detonated their explosives in the basement and inside the shrine, after a Sufi ceremony of singing and prayer, according to a witness, Muhamed Yusef, who was interviewed on Pakistani television. The police retrieved the heads of two of the bombers and estimated their ages as 17 and 22, the television reports said.
The blasts left a sickening scene of devastation. The Express 24/7 television network in Pakistan showed the shrine’s interior littered with bodies, prayer rugs and debris from the blast. Blood pooled on the white marble floor. Crowds gathered outside the shrine after the bombing, shouting, crying and protesting the attack.
“Those who still pretend that we are not a nation at war are complicit in these deaths,” said Farahnaz Ispahani, a spokeswoman for President Asif Ali Zardari.
As we have noted before, Pakistan has suffered – and continues to suffer – devastating attacks at the hands of extremist militants. Thousands of innocent Pakistani citizens have been brutally murdered by Taliban and other religious militants who seek to impose a medieval rule on the country by threat of force.
Pakistan continues to fight back against these militant groups. Despite suffering thousands of casualties and coming under direct attack by Taliban terrorists, Pakistan’s military and police forces sacrifice their lives almost daily to protect their fellow citizens.
That this attack comes just before 4th of July weekend is a reminder that our own democracy was built not only on constant sacrifice, but with the support of our friends and allies across the world. As Pakistan continues to sacrifice in order to firmly cement its own democracy, America mourns with you, and promises to stand unwavering at your side.