Concerns for national and regional security have been raised in the aftermath of the Anarkali Bazaar blast that left at least three dead and injured 25.
On Thursday afternoon at around 1.44pm, an explosion ripped through Anarkali in Lahore. Early investigations revealed that the explosion occurred through a planted device, with the suspect having been identified through CCTV footage. The injured were shifted to Mayo hospital for treatment and hospital staff revealed that five were in critical condition. The responsibility for the blast was claimed by the Balochistan National Army (BNA), who claimed in a tweet that the blast was directed at bank officials in Habib Bank Limited.
The blast closely followed Monday’s attack orchestrated by the outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), in which two police officers died in Islamabad due to gunfire. Successive attacks in a small-time frame had several questioning the state of security in Pakistan.
Activist and educationist Ammar Ali Jan while condemning the Lahore blast, said that there was no excuse for the attack. Pakistan must hold an open dialogue on regional security to combat terrorism, he said.
Condolences to the families affected by #LahoreBlast today. There is never any justification for such cowardly acts of terror. Pakistan needs an open debate on the regional security situation to develop a plan and popular will for fighting terror.
— Ammar Ali Jan (@ammaralijan) January 20, 2022
Journalist Salman Masood pointed out that there was a new wave of extremist attacks in Pakistan, stating that the latest came days after the Islamabad shooting. He said that these attacks were rising again and that did not bode well for the future.
A gradual uptick of terror attacks in Pakistan. The bombing in Lahore comes on the heels of the shooting in Islamabad. Taliban and other terror groups claiming responsibility of recent attacks. After a period of relative peace, ominous signs for the future.
— Salman Masood (@salmanmasood) January 20, 2022
Another journalist, Mushahid Hussain deeply regretted the blast that came after the police officers were attacked in Islamabad. Hussain said that one wondered where the counter terrorism strategy was, despite the National Security Policy being in place.
At least 3 dead, 20 injured in bomb blast in Lahore's Anarkali area https://t.co/i8DXbPFh05 Yet another act of terrorism, after Islamabad, it’s Lahore now! Heartfelt condolences to innocent victims; we have Nat’l Security Policy, but why’s the Counter-Terrorism Strategy missing?
— Mushahid Hussain (@Mushahid) January 20, 2022
An electric engineer, Kamil Ahmed who was saddened by the blast, placed the onus on the incumbent government. Ahmed said that the “hybrid set up” had failed and was responsible for the security lapse in Lahore as well as the Murree tragedy in which dozens died after getting stuck in a traffic jam caused by a massive snowstorm a week ago.
Disheartened by the news of bomb blast in Lahore. Government of the day is responsible for every bit of that is going on be it governance failure in Murree or security failure in Lahore. This whole hybrid set up poses a national security threat with irreversible consequences.
— Kamil Ahmed ☭ (@BeingKamil) January 20, 2022
A social media user said she did not believe Prime Minister Imran Khan’s words of regret over the blast. She said that the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leaders had “provided amnesty to the very terrorists carrying out these attacks”. She added that there would be no accountability and it felt like Pakistan had taken a step back in time.
I do not believe any condolences from @ImranKhanPTI or his other ministers. They provided amnesty to the very terrorists carrying out these attacks, there will be no accountability. It feels like we’re traveling back in time.
— Saleha (@SalehaJ) January 20, 2022
Another user questioned whose inefficiency was responsible for the blast in Lahore. He wondered how many deaths Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar was waiting for till he acted. He furthered that he had voted for Prime Minister Imran Khan but was disappointed in all manners of his governance.
Can anyone tell me who is responsible for the loss which lahore blast caused ?@UsmanAKBuzdar do u have any security plan , how many dead bodies u r waiting for any action ? @ImranKhanPTI I voted for u but u disappointed me in every manner.#LahoreBlast
— Ahsan Naqvi (@ahsaan444) January 20, 2022
Journalist Sana Jamal was also of the opinion that the terrorists should find no safe haven in Pakistan.
Praying for all those affected by the terrible #Lahoreblast today. The images are heartbreaking! We must ensure these terrorists have no place to hide.
— Sana Jamal (@Sana_Jamal) January 20, 2022
Meanwhile, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid, while getting in the car on his way to Lahore, said that it was known that there was a threat of terrorist activity.
— Murtaza Ali Shah (@MurtazaViews) January 20, 2022
It would be noteworthy here that Lahore Commissioner Capt. (retd) Muhammad Usman has said that no terrorist threat was received by the administration.