- 208 die in eight explosions in Colombo
Colombo faced its first terrorism since the end of the civil war with LTTE a decade ago. However, the protagonists were not Sinhalese and Tamils, but Christians and non-Christians. Though no one claimed responsibility, the eight bomb attacks on Christian churches and hotels with foreign guests, on Easter Sunday, one of the most important days in the Christian calendar behind only Easter itself and Christmas, led to Muslim extremist militants being the prime suspect, though Hindu extremists could not be ruled out, not after an upsurge in anti-Christian rhetoric in recent years that has led to an increase in anti-Christian incidents in India, with the RSS accused in the most cases. Couple that with an Indian election, and the accusation cannot be dismissed out of hand.
Whoever committed the outrage, two things stand out. First, the outpouring of condolences by world leaders, including Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Pakistan’s own Imran Khan, shows that the problem is an international one, with the corollary that it requires an international response. Secondly, such an elaborate attack, involving so many different places, required a high level of planning, coordination and financing. And Colombo was open to this. While it is true that the Sri Lankan police was not prepared for a terrorist threat, having no reason to anticipate one, such a large event should have had some warning signs they could have detected.
Pakistan needs to be particularly wary. Not only does all terrorism end up being blamed on it, but it should realise that the constant government proclamations that terrorism is under control are probably incorrect. It should also realise that if a terrorist organisation is sophisticated enough to go to Sri Lanka to commit its crimes, it will probably be sophisticated enough to come to Pakistan and do the same. It should also be remembered that it is likelier to find local helpers and operatives here, than in Sri Lanka, where it did to such deadly effect. It thus is in not just Pakistan’s own interest to determine the provenance of the attackers, but all other countries that have been subject to similar attacks in the past.