Hundreds of people Saturday joined protests across Pakistan against the suicide bombings of the Data Darbar shrine in Lahore, even as Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said militants were targeting cities to divert the people's attention from the war against terror.
Lahore remained in mourning for the second day for the terrorist attack on the shrine of Hazrat Ali Hajweri, considered the patron saint of the city. Forty-five people were killed and over 200 injured when two suicide bombers blew themselves at the shrine on Thursday.
At some places in Lahore, protests turned violent as demonstrators marched through the streets, burning tyres and forcing traders to close their businesses.
Police used batons to disperse them and arrested over a dozen protesters who were demanding that authorities should take action against extremist elements involved in the desecration of the shrine.
Protests were also organised in cities across Punjab, including Rawalpindi, Chakwal, Faisalabad and Multan, and at several places in southern Sindh province, including Karachi, Hyderabad and Larkana.
Life in many towns and cities were affected by strikes called by different organisations like the Sunni Tehrik and Jamaat Ahl-e-Sunnat.
Prime Minister Gilani, who visited the scene of the carnage amidst tight security, said that militants had been weakened by successful military operations and were now targeting cities to cause panic and divert the people's attention from the war against terrorism.
Military action is being launched wherever the government's writ is challenged, he said.
Terrorism is Pakistan's biggest problem and the federal and provincial governments must work jointly to tackle the menace, Gilani told reporters after meeting victims of Thursday's attack at Ganga Ram Hospital.
He said he had convened a special meeting on Monday to ascertain the causes of the latest attacks and to frame a strategy to counter them.
Gilani skirted questions about the need for an anti-militancy operation in southern Punjab and the provincial government's perceived failure to act against militants, saying a "blame game" should be avoided.
Major markets across Lahore remained closed to protest the terrorist attack and traffic on the city’s roads was thin. Lawyers boycotted courts across the province and the Sunni Tehrik organised protests in several cities.