At least 65 people died and 300 others were left wounded after a suicide bombing targeted Christians celebrating Easter in Lahore, Pakistan.
Since the site of the attack was a park, most of the victims included women and children. In fact, according to one count, nearly half of the death toll included children.
As per usual, the perpetrators, this time around a Taliban splinter group that once declared ties with Islamic State, quickly claimed responsibility for the massacre.
“The targets were Christians,” said Ehsanullah Ehsan, a spokesman for the faction, threatening similar attacks in the region would follow. “We want to send this message to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif that we have entered Lahore. He can do what he wants but he won’t be able to stop us. Our suicide bombers will continue these attacks.”
Although, the country has been plagued by terrorism for over three decades, the deadliest phase came after the emergence of Taliban in Pakistan (aka TTP) in 2008. The organization alone is responsible for claiming the lives of at least 70,000 citizens and army personnel over a period of roughly eight years. And there are three more groups like the TTP, including more than 15 factions or splinter groups active in the country.
Therefore, anyone living in Pakistan knows all too well that threats of violence issued by militants are not hollow.
Yet, despite the climate of fear and intimidation spread by terrorists, the people of Pakistan have remained defiant — the most recent example of which was witnessed at the hospitals in Lahore.
Following the Easter bombing, Reuters reported the injured were “transported to hospitals on taxis and auto-rickshaws due to a shortage of ambulances.” In addition, there was a critical shortage of blood across the city’s hospitals. That’s when citizens from all walks of life, including social activists, journalists, celebrities, sportsmen and politicians, rallied to help donate blood to those in need.
Lahore blood donations A and O negative #donate— jasmeen manzoor (@jasmeenmanzoor) March 27, 2016
If you want to donate blood, go to Farooq Hospital (main boulevard, Allama Iqbal Town) or Bajwah Hospital (near Bismillah chowk)#Lahore— Nadia Jamil (@NJLahori) March 27, 2016
Heart breaking scenes in Lahore. What a tragic day. Please donate blood and help all victims1/2— Shahid Afridi (@SAfridiOfficial) March 27, 2016
The response to the calls for blood donations was overwhelming.
In spite of terrorists trying to create disharmony, hundreds of people, a majority of them Muslims, crowded Lahore’s hospitals to help their fellow Pakistanis citizens in need.
Moved by response of some generous souls in Lahore. Scores rush to donate blood, Careem offers free rides to donors - THIS is compassion— Atika Rehman (@AtikaRehman) March 27, 2016
In fact, so many people contributed that within a matter of a few hours, some hospitals put up signs, saying they had received more than enough blood donations:
This is how they donated their blood for Muslim, Christian brothers, sisters (taken from a FB page from Lahore) pic.twitter.com/ISUs9Ym2vB— Javed Aziz Khan (@JavedAzizKhan) March 28, 2016
People in Pakistan crowd up to donate blood to the injured. Humanity. pic.twitter.com/xkIwDiuqAb— Joel Franco (@OfficialJoelF) March 27, 2016
3:00am Lahore Hospitals still crowded with blood donors. This is what makes us Pakistan. This is what gives us hope, keeps us going #YouLost— Jibran Nasir (@MJibranNasir) March 27, 2016
The heartbreak, no doubt, remains. The pain of losing so many innocent lives will never go away.
But the display of solidarity among the people of Pakistan in the wake of such a tragedy, over and over again, proves the terrorists might claim lives but they would never be able to claim the collective spirit of the Pakistani nation.