A terrible blast at a park in Lahore, Pakistan has taken the lives of dozens of people, injuring hundreds, mainly women and children who were enjoying their Easter holiday. We are truly getting short of words and expressions to define our sorrow and anger from this new terror.
The park was named Gulshan-e-Iqbal, in honor of Mohammad Iqbal, the great poet, philosopher and writer who spent most of his life in Lahore and died there in 1938. He is seen as the spiritual father of Pakistan, although he did not see any independent state established in his lifetime.
It is very difficult to understand what kind of a world these proponents of terror want. Obviously they do not want people to live in this world. They also, from time to time, have a selective way of choosing their victims. In Lahore, it was Christian Pakistanis who were targeted. Previously in Istanbul, the suicide bomber has tried to attack a group of Israeli tourists. Again in Istanbul, in one of the most historic sites of the city, just in front of the Hagia Sophia, a group of German tourists was attacked by another suicide bomber. Both in Paris and Brussels, crowds were attacked without discrimination, killing people of all stripes en masse exactly like the last two suicide attacks in Ankara, targeting people on the streets during rush hour.
But this terror kills civilians, members of security forces, tourists, local residents, Muslims, Christians, Buddhists and atheists without much discrimination. The senior police official in Lahore, Haider Ashraf, confirmed 72 people were killed, adding the majority of the dead were Muslims, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported. "Christians were not the specific target of this attack because the majority of the dead are Muslims," he said. "Everybody goes to this park."
Not only have I written in this column that this new terror represents a major danger for any democratic regime, but there is a blatant need to take very important and tangible steps in two major directions.
First, there really must be the establishment of a web of cooperation between countries' intelligence services. The recent summit of EU leaders was a visible example of how shallow this cooperation is. For the last two years, EU member states have tried to implement a common database to cover all passenger lists on flights to or from EU countries. Even this much could not be achieved up until now. It would be a very good idea to include a NATO-wide cooperation framework for such a step.
Second, and more important, it is essential to not find any attenuating circumstances for any terror activity. In 1996, 20 years ago, a very important captain of industry, Özdemir Sabancı, his general manager Haluk Görgün and his personal secretary Nilgün Hasefe were killed in cold blood by an armed commando who stormed their offices in a very secure office building. It quickly became apparent that the assassination was made possible through a young person, Fehriye Erdal, who infiltrated the corporation staff and worked for months to prepare the attack. This person was apprehended in Belgium, and the Belgian justice system somehow found her not guilty because the killing was not performed with an automatic weapon. She disappeared into nature after her trial because Belgian security forces were not able to trace her even though she was assigned to a residence.
The recent performance of Belgian security and intelligence staff has shown the deliquescence of their organizations. This cannot be tolerated anymore. A terrorist is a terrorist and there are many strategies for any terror organization to infiltrate any country or corporation so long as their activities are at worst tolerated and at best disregarded.
I wrote a week ago: "The unacceptable fate of Palestinians and Syrians cannot explain, let alone justify, this blind terror. The democratic and cultural rights of the Kurdish people cannot explain, let alone justify, terror attacks and killings." This understanding should be taken as a minimal common ground to fight this terror. Otherwise, more bloody, blind killings will unfortunately be in the news in coming weeks and months.