Red alert?

A wave of terror swept through the entire city of Lahore when a bomb exploded in Gulberg’s busy Liberty Market on Tuesday, injuring four people. Reportedly, the device had been planted between two cars parked outside a shoe store when it went off at about 7:35 pm. According to reports, the device was home-made and was packed with 1.5 kg or 2 kg of explosives. The bomb disposal squad has taken the pieces of the bomb into possession for further investigation. The market, which usually remains open till late night, closed down minutes after the explosion. Understandably, traders whose shops were damaged did not leave the place till late night. This blast is a blatant reminder for the people of Pakistan about the tumultuous situation the country is in today.

Given the circumstances of Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti’s death and the outrage it has caused all over the country, especially in Balochistan, the security in all the major cities of Pakistan was set on red alert, including Lahore. But this bomb blast in one of the busiest markets of the city caught the local security forces napping. If this is how our security forces operate at a time when a red alert is on, little wonder the law and order situation in the city is getting from bad to worse. The police claims to have captured some images that were recorded through closed circuit television (CCTV) installed at the Liberty Market, but the President of Liberty Market Traders’ Association, Irfan Iqbal Sheikh, has refuted these claims. According to him, the security cameras had not been working for the past few days because the wires of these cameras were damaged by the recent thunderstorms and rains. He admitted the negligence on the part of the Liberty Market management in fixing the fault. Mr. Irfan Sheikh also said that these cameras only focused on the shops and not the roads or parking lots outside the shops, but a new and improved security system should surely be installed after this tragic incident. Although the Liberty Market management has admitted its fault, yet our security forces are sprouting false claims in order to save their hide. This is clearly a case of negligence and incompetence on the part of the security forces. Not only were they incapable of stopping this attack, but due to their utter mismanagement, the forensic evidence at the scene of the crime has been tampered with by now, as the area was not properly cordoned off and spectators were found visiting the crime scene without anyone from the security forces stopping them. It shows how well-trained our security personnel are in investigating a crime.

The police have said that this blast could either be in reaction to Bugti’s killing or Hafiz Saeed’s re-arrest, but all other possible motives are being looked into. The government released Saeed on the orders of the Lahore High Court on Monday, but he was re-arrested at his residence late Tuesday and was taken to a detention facility in a neighbouring town. Even so, this theory of linking the bomb blast to his re-arrest seems a bit too farfetched when there is unrest throughout the country after Bugti’s killing, and it was bound to travel through Balochistan and Sindh to Punjab and other parts of the country. Whoever is behind this crime, only time would tell, but one cannot feel anything but outrage at the incompetence of the security forces that are responsible for public security. In such incompetent hands, the public would always fear for their safety.

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