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Opinion

Opinion: The Pakistani Islamists' perfidious PR strategy

The targets of the attack in Lahore were Christians, but most of the victims were Muslim. People will start fleeing Pakistan again, too, if they risk death even at a children's playground, says DW's Florian Weigand.

Seen from the cynical perspective of the assassins, the attack in Lahore was an embarrassment. When they targeted an amusement park in Pakistan's second-largest city, they aimed to strike the Christian community on a day of great symbolic significance: Easter Sunday. One day later, our DW correspondent at the scene reports more than 70 people dead: among these are at least 26 children, and - from the assassins' point of view - too few Christians.

The Lahore attackers' claim that they had targeted Christians is a perfidious public relations maneuver. The Taliban splinter group had good reason to hope that they would receive maximum attention around the world - especially in the Christian-orientated West. However, the attack has demonstrated once again that, whatever aims the Islamists pursue, the majority of the victims are Muslim, be it in Syria, in Iraq, in Africa, Indonesia, or in the perennial hotspots of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Florian Weigand

DW's Florian Weigand

Pakistan really cannot be said to have a very secular legislation. Blasphemy is still a crime punishable by death. Many Pakistanis are religious Muslims who also think it right that public life, too, is aligned with the principles found in the Koran. However, it is also just as much a reality that Christian "convent" schools are favored educational establishments for the children of the Muslim elite. The level of education in these schools is indisputably high. That too is an aspect of this country, whose social complexity cannot be described in a few short sentences.

Banishing the demons

Anyone looking at social media in the aftermath of the attacks will find there, above all, consternation. A young Muslim woman from Islamabad, for example, writes that all people are her brothers; another quotes the Prophet Mohammed, saying that he would condemn these atrocities as un-Islamic. At the same time, however, a fateful current of radical Islamism - long fueled by the government and the secret services - is flourishing in the country as a compliant instrument for use against its neighbor Afghanistan. Initially, it was even supported by the United States: in the 1980s, when Afghanistan was communist, and any means of combating the former Soviet Union was deemed acceptable. The US summoned these demons, and now it cannot banish them again. There have already been several military offensives in recent years, but attacks tended to increase rather than diminish.

It is to be expected that more and more people will leave Pakistan, as well, and try their luck abroad. The fortunate ones are those who can count on getting one of the many available scholarships, or a good job offer from the Emirates or in Europe. The privileged elite already takes full advantage of these. The less privileged will be weighing up whether even a camp like the one in Idomeni may be a better alternative to a country where even a family outing to an amusement park carries the risk of death.

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