April 2nd, 2010
08:19 AM ET

Taliban bombs trigger Lahore backlash

Lahore, Pakistan — This bustling northern city is Pakistan's cultural heart and until last year it had been relatively immune to the terror that has traumatized so many Pakistanis.

But as a military campaign to "clear out" the Taliban rages in tribal regions, urban centers like Lahore have become vulnerable to suicide bombings.

"Where is the security? I'm scared, I'm very scared, I'm afraid to take my child to school," said one mother on a Lahore street after twin blasts rocked Pakistan's second city in mid-March.

That double bombing, followed by multiple, smaller blasts, killed more than three dozen people and injured several more, shattering the relative serenity once taken for granted in Lahore.

At the site of one of the blasts, merchants and neighbors talked about how people were afraid to go out and that the streets were not as busy as they used to be.

The bombs and the carnage they have brought with them have changed perceptions about the war against the Taliban.

"Initially the reaction was, 'the Taliban do not exist,' everything is fabricated by the United States. Now, they have come to realize they do exist, it's a threat and something has to be done about it," says Omar Farooq, a Pakistani American who lives in Lahore and narrowly escaped injury after an attack in December.

According to the Pakistani government, a steadily rising number of people who used to consider the war against the Taliban a U.S. affair, now consider it their own war.

While the Pakistani military says it has racked up an impressive record of successes against militants, the Taliban have proven their capability to fight back and retaliate against not just so-called soft targets such as civilians, but also the most secure targets.

Nusrat Parveen Ghani can't stop sobbing as she grieves for her 26-year-old son Rizvan. The rickshaw driver was killed in the double suicide bombing in mid-March. His mother says he had been trying to help one of the victims of the first blast when he caught by the second blast.

"When I saw the reality of it, he was torn apart from the waist down, I couldn't bare it," she says, still crying as her husband comforts her.

Suicide bombers, car bombs and Taliban plots were all once foreign to this family, but no longer.

"I'm just a simple man," insists Rizvan's father Abdul Ghani adding, "we're on the sidelines watching this circus."

Military officials in Pakistan told CNN the backlash against the Taliban has been pivotal for their offensive campaign. With many more Pakistanis now supporting their battle against militants, officials say this support has helped more than U.S. demands ever could, strengthening their resolve to tackle the Taliban.

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Filed under: Pakistan • Taliban
soundoff (19 Responses)
  1. Bob

    Misinformed comments. Again, speaking as a proud Pakistani, here are the facts:
    1. Pakistanis did not 'allow' the Taliban to operate. The US funneled money in the 80s to General Zia. He was a dictator which the US propped up. No one in Pakistan likes the Taliban as they have repressed and mistreated our own people. They are an import from Kandahar Afghanistan which the military establishment (without the will of the Pakistani people) propped up.
    2. Pakistan fought the Soviets and it was partly because of their efforts and sacrifice that USSR fell. When the Berlin Wall fell, the first piece of the wall was gifted to the Pakistani military ISI head as a thank you from Germany.
    3. Pakistan does not 'mistreat' its women. We love them and die to protect them. The abuses you hear about are due to ancient and backward tribal cultures which Pakistan is trying to eliminate. Poverty is a driver for these engrained cultures. In Pakistan proper we have equal right laws and even passed a women's anti-harrassment law recently. We have had a woman in charge of our country, the Governer of our Gilgit province is a woman, our state bank head is a woman, our fighter pilots are women, we have female ambassadors, and we even have a female general. We have had this sooner than the US (no female president in the US). Even our allocation of seats in Parliment to women was constituted long before India's bill. They are also more rapes in India than Pakistan (60,000 women have been raped by Indian soliders in Kashmir). This has been documented by their own Human Rights organizations. Everytime a woman is mistreated in Pakistan, it is in splattered in our own press because of the love we have for them. We mourn the mistreatment of any person.
    4. Pakistan got it's nuclear tech with the aid of China. India got it with the aid of Russia. Everyone has gotten something from someone. People need to get over this.
    5. Our biggest issue is no longer the Taliban. Our army is mopping them up. Our biggest problem for 2010 is tackling inflation and poverty. The violence in steadily declining. The US tends to be very alarmist at everything. We have taken responsibility and action.

    We are the most ethnically diverse muslim nation in the world (and dam proud all our beautiful people 🙂 ). We are Kashmiri, Balouchi, Sindhi, Paktoon/Pathan, Punjabi, Hazari, etc. We are Semetic, Persian, African, Chinese, European....and Pakistan is here to stay so get used to us 🙂 .

    PS: I was born in Lahore and my ancestors were Semites (mother) and Greek (father) for those that don't believe me.

    April 8, 2010 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Shah Rukh Khan

    Neel123 has a point. Although the Chinese supplied the nuclear weapon/technology to Pakistani, the Americans KNEW and acquiesced to nuclear proliferation (supposedly quid pro quo for Paki cooperation during Reagan era for support against the Soviets). AQ Khan etc. is old news. Americans were in the thick of it.

    Second, for a permanent peace in the Af-Pak region, the best option is a) allow the oppressed people of Pakhtunishtan to have their own country or better still b) to carve Pakistan into more managable states: Baluchistan, SIndh, Pakhtunwa, Punjab. The Pakistani occupied Kashmir must be allowed eventual integration with democratic India if the West desires less Islamic fanatacism in that region. Donating billions of dollars to Pakistan will come back to haunt the Americans. Peace!

    April 7, 2010 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
  3. jack

    TO BABAR, you also show your ignorance, the taliban do not fight for freedom in afghanistan. they fight for power and control. what freedom have the people of afghanistan enjoyed under taliban rule? music, danceing, singing, movies, and television were all banned. anyone who broke their rules were subjected to brutal punishment. the taliban have themself to blame for the situation in afghanistan and pakistan. if they wouldn't have harbored terrorists and either gave up or forced bin ladan to leave afghanistan, the u.s. would not have attacked. and yes, i can believe that former taliban have fought or are still active in iraq and in many other countries. saudi, yemeni, bosnian, and chechnyan muslim terrorists have been found everywhere terrorism takes place. their are no rules where a jahadi can and cannot go to do his evil.

    April 7, 2010 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
  4. EDC

    Terrorism affects all societies and no one nation is to blame. All nations have contributed in one way or another, whether directly or indirectly, whether aggressively or by omission, to the rise of terrorism in the world. Placing blame on the United States is folly for Pakistan. Where was Pakistan when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan? The Taliban should never have been allowed to come into existence in the first place. If Pakistan thought of and treated women as equals then how could they have alllowed the Taliban to take power in their neighbor's land? This chicken has come home to roost for all nations.

    April 7, 2010 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Bob

    I'm a proud Pakistani from Lahore and can say that many in Pakistan are disgusted at the bigotry against our people that can clearly be seen in these comments. The fact remains that more Pakistanis have lost their lives in the fight against Terrorism then any other country. We have had more suicide bombings then all other nations combined in 2008-2009. This is a beautiful country with beautiful people and we this year are winning the fight and making our democratic nation stronger as a result. You forced a dictator upon us and funded the Taliban in the 80s, and blame us for them. Your Afghan campaign forced these terrorists into our borders (previously they were not), resulting in the deaths of thousands on innocent Pakistanis, and yet you blame us. We've had more of our proud miltitary men die then all NATO losses combined cleaning up this mess, and yet you blame us. Americans need to take responsibility and support us. Spiting on our dead isn't the way to win our hearts and minds. We're 170 million strong with an economy poised to grow at 5 to 9% this year. It's time the US take another look with better vision.

    April 7, 2010 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
  6. Muhammad Ali McFinney

    As an Irish Muslim, the people in those tribal areas can beat each other to death for all I care. Just keep it there. You export it, you die.

    April 7, 2010 at 7:07 am | Report abuse |
  7. You Cant Handle The Truth

    Pakistan and the Pakistani people are now waking up to the fact that allowing terrorists freedom to operate in their country was a very bad decision. They were ok with terrorists when they were attacking Afghan, Indian, US and NATO targets. Now that the Taliban are attacking Pakistani government, military and civian targets they are finally waking up to the fact that they created and nurtured a monster. Hopefully they realize that Al Qaeda and the Taliban and far bigger threats to Pakistan than India has ever been. India has shown great restraint despite the many terrorist attacks committed by Pakistan's terrorist proxy groups. The perpetual state of war (jihad) promoted by these groups will do nothing but cement Pakistan in a cycle of violence and third world poverty. The keys are education, jobs and stability.

    April 7, 2010 at 6:37 am | Report abuse |
  8. I KNOW

    hahaha you saying all this to our people. Look at you, little cowards. You fear from a single sound made in your backwards by a dog:D we at least are able to live with fear. Well that being said, you guys are real losers. you don't know nothing because you are so ignorant. No one in Pakistan wants what is happening there. They are also normal people, wanting normal lives. Only if the US didnt had so much influence on other countries, this would war would have not even taken place. If you dont know how it started, it didnt started on September 11, it had roots way long ago!!! Read history, then comment!

    April 7, 2010 at 1:19 am | Report abuse |
  9. peter

    pakistan is doomed. it is run by uneducated mullahs who believe in archaic tribal laws. the majority of pakistanis are idiots. they don't go to schools. they are more worried about covering their women than to feed their children. not sure why they have degenerated so much.

    April 6, 2010 at 8:51 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Baber

    Mr. Toaster – with all due respect. At least before you blog and display your ignorance, you should do some resesrch. The Iraqis are not fighting against the Taliban. The Taliban only exist in Afghanistan whose sole purpose is to fight for freedom for their country. The Taliban on the Pakistani side of the border have a different agenda. They are punishing Pakistanis for supporting the US policies.

    Americans are smart people – but quite ignorant on so many issues. This problem is exacerbated with a laziness to research facts and hence opinions are shaped inaccurately.

    April 6, 2010 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
  11. kris

    It hs nothing to do with pakiwtani people per say . It is the authorities in power created this Jihadi group against India which is creating backlash on the creators . The Taliban ISI are afraid of a govt that will be democratic and sectarian in Pakistan Also put the blame on Saudis since their brand of Wahabism is the bseline for this situation

    April 6, 2010 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Toaster

    I think the commentors here are missing the point. More people are realizing that the Taliban need to be contained. Not only are the people of Afghanistan and Iraq fighting against the Taliban, Now the Pakistanis are becoming more determined to fight them. Pakistan tried to reason with them, and grant them space within their country, but the Taliban viloated that gesture of good faith. One day the Taliban will have no where to go.. I hope.

    April 6, 2010 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Frank

    to NeeL23:

    What kind of raving lunatic thinks that America wanted Pakistan to have nuclear weapons, let alone help them to acquire them?!?!?!?!!!?

    April 6, 2010 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Anti-Neel123

    Neel123,
    How ignorance are you with history? US didn't help Pakistan acquire nukes. It was Communist Chinese. They help Pakistan to acquire nukes to counter India. Everyone in grade school knows about that.

    April 6, 2010 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Capt Pandit

    Pakistan Rulers, be it Civilians or Military have been plundering the Pakistani State Money ( Earned by the State or from Donors) openely. There is nobody in Pakistan to stop them. The people of Pakistan are the real suckers. This nation has no future and i do not even see any light at the end of the tunnel as well. We the people of other nations can only wish luck and better times to the suffering Pakistanies.God be with them. We are helpless, JAI HO

    April 5, 2010 at 4:02 am | Report abuse |
  16. Iraq Paramedic

    Hello Daniel,
    I do enjoy reading your responces. What is your nationality? And by the way pakistan has a scientist who did most of the work himself on the nuke thing & the help that did come from the USA was stolen by a traitor that is now in prison for life. Peace be unto you Daniel, keep writing.

    Now for NeeL23, you are obviously not American, What nationality are you? And by the way there is good & bad in every country, people, race & religion on earth. Yes some of our elected officials have ulterior motives but for the most part they truely would like to see the elderly be able to rest, the kids go to school & play & the young adults get educated & get good jobs to provide for their families & be able to do all this in peace & security. America is slipping off of our GODly, Christain fondation but, most of us still believe in love thy nieghbor & tho shalt not kill. May GOD Bless & keep us all !!!!!!!!!

    April 3, 2010 at 9:30 am | Report abuse |
  17. Neel123

    In GOD's world every evil will have to bear the backlash of devine justice.

    The American policy makers seem to have forgotten this reality, and they seem to think that the US is GOD. They helped Pakistan acquire the nukes. But they can not stop Pakistan from falling apart, and stop the nukes from falling into the hands of the muslim terrorists, bent on destroying the US.

    It is only a matter of time.

    The Americans will eventually pay for the evil policies pursued by the US, in the name of national interests.

    April 2, 2010 at 12:05 pm | Report abuse |
  18. Daniel

    As long as The United States,Great Britain and France cling to their goal of eventually dominating the area,this obscene carnage will only continue.I understand the feelings of the majority of Americans who blog in here expressing their support for the war,since they're not affected by this horrific bloodshed.Another bottomless pit for our tax dollars!

    April 2, 2010 at 9:48 am | Report abuse |
  19. Andrew Lubin

    Too bad the Paks wasted the $ 11 BILLION Bush sent them by spending it on expensive weaponry directed against the Indians. The threat was always Taliban-AQ; now let their ISI stop supporting the Taliban and defend their own country. A weak country led by weak people.

    April 2, 2010 at 8:27 am | Report abuse |