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Pak media condemns attack on Ahmedis

world Updated: May 29, 2010 21:43 IST

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For a country that has witnessed dozens of terrorist assaults over the past few years, the shock and revulsion expressed by Pakistanis on Saturday over the carnage at two mosques of the minority Ahmedi sect has been unprecedented.

Members of the Ahmedi sect have often been assaulted or gunned down in targeted attacks since the Pakistani parliament adopted a law in 1974 that declared them non-Muslims but observers say Friday's attacks marked the first time their places of worship have been subjected to coordinated attacks by militants.

The headline in The Dawn newspaper said "Ahmadis slain as they prayed" while the headline on the front page of The News simply read: "Deadly Friday!."

Newspaper reports gave graphic details of the storming of the two mosques by terrorists armed with suicide vests, grenades and assault rifles.

On entering the prayer halls, they lobbed grenades and fired indiscriminately. When three attackers at one mosque were cornered by police, they blew themselves up. Ninety-five people were killed and over 100 injured in the attacks.

In an editorial titled "Terror in Lahore", The Dawn questioned why "were the attackers able to enter the premises so easily, especially at sites known to be targets?" It said authorities should have been at a heightened state of alert as banners denouncing religions other than Islam had appeared in parts of Lahore recently.

The News, in its editorial, said the attacks at places of worship were "a testament to how fanaticism can rouse the savage within men and what inhumanity religious intolerance, if allowed to grow unchecked, can lead to."

The attacks were a continuation of the violence directed at Ahmedis since the 1950s, it said.

The Express Tribune, in its editorial, said the attacks "are more or less an inevitable outcome of the intolerance and bigotry found in Pakistan today – we say 'today' because while it began many years ago and was facilitated actively by the state during General Zia's days, it persists and has perhaps grown stronger than ever."

There was considerable discussion of the attacks in Pakistan's active internet community, with blogs and websites buzzing with outrage at the carnage.

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan representative Tahira Abdullah called for a ban on some religious TV shows, such as Alim Online on Geo News, saying its host had spoken against Ahmedis and even backed religious hardliners who declared the killing of members of the sect a "rightful act."

"The government has failed to protect minorities. Pakistan is no more a safe place for minorities," she said.