By Mahvish Akhtar, MMNS
On March 12th 2010 the people of Lahore paid a heavy price for the decisions made by the leaders of the country. It was a day unlike any other. People of Lahore will never forget the events of that day. One bomb blast or even two the city and even the country is used to, but 7 blasts in one day are unheard of.
The first blast took place in R.A Market just before Friday Prayers and just a few moments after that a bigger blast shook the city. Since it is a cantonment area, the market is near sensitive military offices and installations which most likely were the targets of the attacks. There is confusion about the exact time distance between the 2 blasts. The reports were that they were only 15 seconds apart but then eyewitnesses claimed they were close to 2 minutes apart.
The reason given for the 2 blasts back to back was that after the first blast people started to gather to look at the damage and help the wounded. Another blast at this point would ensure much more casualties and it did.
According to reports around 57 people died and close to 120 were injured. However unofficial sources claim that the number of dead is up to 70.
The public was still trying to make sense of what had happened and were still trying to understand their circumstances when in the evening back to back 5, small fire cracker like, explosions took place in moon market at different times in the evening.
There were no casualties there but the scare was enough to put the whole city in extreme fear, anger and frustration. The public of Lahore could not comprehend what had happened and locked themselves in their homes for that evening.
Cantonment SP Investigation Umer Saeed said the bombers apparently came from the Northern Areas or Afghanistan, he also said that the suicide bomberâ€™s fair complexion suggested that he was probably from South Waziristan. He said fingerprints of bombers would be obtained to verify them with NADRA record.
In a connected effort to hunt down people attached to these bombings 40 people from the same areas were arrested for not having ID Cards.
Even though many people did not come out on the streets that night as Lahoris do on a Friday night the roads were still filled with cars and people.
Seeing that many of the people did not stay at home and were out and about the very next day the media claimed that the people of Pakistan are brave and are not letting terrorists win by canceling their plans.
However, the area around R.A bazaar was closed on Saturday and people were in fear and grief along with shock.
All of the leaders of Pakistan condemned these attacks and said that the people of Lahore and Pakistan were brave and were crushing the plans of the enemy by resuming normal life right after the fact.
However when we spoke to people of Lahore there was a different view point. Shahbaz a father of 2 who works in a government office said that he has no choice but to get out because of work. He fears for his life but at the same time he cannot lose his job by staying at home.
Samina who works at a maid 50 minutes away from her house says the same thing. She told us that she works in Model Town, which is the area that was hit with the previous blast. However she has no choice but to leave the house and go there every day. Her children worry about her she says while she is gone but what can she do. Wiping her tears with her shawl she says, â€œI hate leaving my children behind because I donâ€™t know what catastrophe might befall them that I cannot save them fromâ€, but there are no other options for her.
So, it would be wrong to say that people of Lahore are coming out and ignoring these events because they are resilient. Of course the fact that the people of Pakistan have become immune to guns and bombs most are getting out of their homes because of necessity rather then courage.
Again I repeat that this is not to claim that people are not courageous in these parts of the worlds because to live here every day and to move on from events like these requires a lot of strength which the people of Pakistan have.
However, with that said it is important to keep in mind that this courage comes from the need to survive as well. If getting out in these situations where there are more than one bombs exploding all over town is dangerous, staying in and losing oneâ€™s job is even more dangerous for these people.
In short the people of Pakistan are stuck between bomb and striving to fill their stomachs.