Times of India piece by Omer Farooq Kahn July 4, India
Quick acknowledgement: discrepancies in general slant exist between this piece and the AOL News that preceded it. India recently announced a pact with Pakistan on the systematic apprehension and reduction of terrorist attacks. This is the same India who received green lights from former President Bush on its military nuclear program while Iran faces U.N. sanctions on its claimed-to-be-domestic nuclear program. Plus this one is two days behind the story that claims the Pakistani population is largely lashing out at the U.S. presence in the country as a response to the violence.
ISLAMABAD: The Taliban may have overplayed their hand by attacking Lahore's Data Gunj Baksh shrine with thousands of people, including conservative religious groups, taking to Pakistan's streets on Saturday, to denounce terrorist groups for the first time since the near-daily roll call of suicide attacks in the country.
On Saturday, as thousands demanded a new offensive against the Taliban, shops and businesses were shut in major cities. The protest appeared to reflect Pakistan's deep anger against the second major attack in a month on Pakistan's cultural hub, Lahore and on its famous Sufi shrine.
In one of Lahore's important shopping areas, baton-wielding protesters forced bystanders and passers-by to join in and shops to close . Protests also erupted in Karachi, Rawalpindi, Faislabad, Hyderabad and the northwestern Pashtun-dominated town of Peshawar. Emotions ran high in Karachi.
"We will not end our protest until culprits are punished,'' said Sunni Muslim Council leader Raghib Naeemi. The council was one of the groups which had called for a strike on Saturday. Naeemi urged the government to step up its efforts against extremism.
The council's chief Sahibzada Fazal thanked Pakistanis for holding protests. ''Today's successful strike shows that people behind terrorist acts. People have rejected these hired assassins.''
Authorities also ordered a crackdown on suspects. Police said they had rounded up several suspected militants around Lahore and recovered 20 suicide vests, police uniforms and and large amounts of ammunition on Friday night.
Pakistan prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani visited the scene and vowed to bring the
attackers to justice. ''We've to be united to defeat terrorism and have appealed to the international community to help us,'' he said. This was a rare visit of Pakistan's head of government, who comes from a Sufi family, to a terror attack scene.
The attack on the Lahore shrine has also intensified calls for reigning in extremist seminaries that have mushroomed across Pakistan during the US-backed Jihad in Afghanistan in the 1980s.
Warfare continues to become more professional and dehumanized every day.
The purpose of Extraordinary Edition is being revisited for winter, headed into 2013. U.S. foreign policy, Central Asia and the Middle East remain key focal points. Economics and culture on your front doorstep are coming into focus here.