At least 100 people were martyred today (more casualties are expected) when a suicide bomber attacked the crowded Sufi shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar in Sehwan, injuring up to 250 others. The powerful blast took place inside the premises of the shrine as a dhamaal (a Sufi practice) was taking place, with a large number of women and children said to be among the casualties. Large crowds of people from different parts of the province were gathered at the shrine when the blast took place.
It wasn’t the first time when a Sufi shrine was targeted. In July 2010, militants attacked the revered Sufi shrine of Data Ganj Bakhsh in Lahore, claiming 41 lives and injuring over 170 people. On October 7th, two suicide bombers attacked the Abdullah Shah Ghazi shrine in Karachi. A similar attack at Baba Farid Shakarganj shrine in Pakpattan, Punjab followed a few weeks later, continuing the never-ending legacy of militant attacks against places of Sufi worship.
I’ve every reason to believe that this spate of attacks on Sufi shrines is an indication of a shift in terrorist calculus. What kind of person would desecrate the sanctity of a saint’s sepulcher and turn its holy grounds into a battlefield? The answer is, ‘the other kind of Muslim – Khawarij.’ Extremists who don’t value a human life and the pain of human suffering.
The visits and worships at Sehwan Sharif are halted and the lights that once spread an exquisite glow – symbolic of spiritual insight – have faded into the gathering darkness.
They (the terrorists) say, “One must submit to God’s will.” But God’s will does not lie in the growth of fundamentalism and sacrilege.