A Taliban suicide bomber blew himself up last week on the outskirts of Lahore, killing more than 60 people. A few days later, 32 miles away, a violent mob incinerated a Christian couple accused of blasphemy.
The two incidents seem unrelated””one an atrocity committed in the service of global terrorism, the other an eruption of local violence. But taken together, the incidents tell the story of Pakistan today: A country and people opposed to the Taliban’s extremist version of Islam, but unconsciously affirming it in small but significant ways.
The suicide bombing by the Taliban at the Wagah crossing on the India-Pakistan border targeted families who had come to watch the daily flag-lowering ceremony. Condemnations and angst poured in from every corner””from Pakistani media, politicians and the military. The city of Lahore resolved, with considerable fanfare, to defy the Taliban by going ahead with the flag-raising ceremony the day after the bombing, an event that drew a large crowd.