A child’s bottle forms part of the bloody debris at the shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar.
A child’s bottle forms part of the bloody debris at the shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar.

A courthouse in the northwestern Pakistan town of Charsadda was brutally attacked on February 21, when at least seven people were killed and 30 wounded.

Tragic violence had previously struck on February 16, when the town of Sehwan Sharif lost more than 80 Muslims – Sufi men, women and children – who were in attendance at the shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, as ISIS-affiliated terrorists detonated bombs in its midst. Another 100 were injured in the massacre, the latest in a weeks-long spate of monstrous blood-letting in Pakistan.

Thousands of devotees had gathered at the shrine to worship in the Sufi tradition, and particularly on Thursdays. The shrine was built in 1356 and is near the tomb of one of Pakistan’s most venerated saints, the Sufi philosopher and poet Syed Muhammad Usman Marwandi, who is also known as Lal Shahbaz Qalandar. Authorities in Sindh told Al Jazeera: “Police were present, but there were hundreds of people. There was obviously some lapse in security.”

The vicious attack was preceded just days before by the suicide bombing that struck outside of the Punjab Assembly during a protest, killing at least 13 people and injuring more than 80 victims. Authorities say the attack, for which the extremist group Jamaat-ul-Ahrar claimed responsibility, was aimed at police offi- cials who were present.

Holy sites of Muslims and Christians have been targeted by irreligious extremists, like ISIS and their affiliates, in Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, Mali and Saudi Arabia.

Despite the wanton destruction and the further sacrilege to human life, the friends and family of the victims and residents of Sehwan Sharif kept the shrine alive the following day, by returning to do massive cleaning of blood and debris. In grief, they thereafter resumed their prayers to the Almighty.

“This is Lal Shahbaz Qalandar. Any terrorist, any number of terrorist attacks will not scare us,” one devotee told Al Jazeera.

So-called ‘Islamic’ terrorists violently object to the basic religious tenets of pluralism, moral law, intense worship, love, dedication and respect for the founders of religion which characterize Sufis and other God-fearing Muslims the world over.

Noora Ahmad

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