Pathans behind suicide terror attack on Pakistan census officials in Lahore

Islamabad [Pakistan], Apr. 7 : Law enforcement and intelligence officials in Lahore, capital of Pakistan's Punjab province, are coming around to the view that there is a Pathan link to Wednesday's suicide terror attack on a census team that claimed the lives of six persons, including four Pakistan Army soldiers and an off-duty airman in the Bedian Road area of the city according to a report in 'Dawn '.

The census process in Pakistan is facing a lot of resistance from the Pathan community as they see the exercise as an attempt to isolate the Pathans in Pakistani Society and to label them as ' terrorists '.

At least 19 persons were also injured in the blasts, the responsibility for which was claimed by the Pathan-dominant Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan.

The injured are being treated at the Combined Military Hospital and the General Hospital, and at least three were said to be critical.

The terror strike in Lahore has not come as a surprise to observers and experts, as the Pakistan government is holding a census after a gap of 19 years, and according to them, this exercise has become a highly politicised issue as it seeks to reinforce Punjabi domination of Pakistan.

Door-to-door counting began in the second week of March, with women's rights groups, smaller provinces, ethnic and religious minorities voicing concerns over the entire process as serving the majority Punjabi community.

One report said that representatives of ethnic Baluch and Pashtun political parties, who have been demanding both empowerment and autonomy, have expressed fears that officials in Punjab will manipulate the census figures to maintain the province's large share of national resources and political clout.

Punjab currently holds 183 seats in the 342-member National Assembly, which means it can elect a prime minister at will.

Lawmakers in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) are on record as saying that their population will be undercounted as many of the inhabitants have moved out owing to counter-terrorism operations and U.S.-engineered drone strikes on suspect militants.

Lawmakers in Baluchistan have reportedly filed a lawsuit to halt the census over fears that thousands of Pashtuns, a majority of whom are refugees from neighbouring Afghanistan and living in Pakistan for several decades, will be mistakenly included in the census count.

It is all very well for Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Chief of Army Staff General Bajwa to express their condolences over the incident and their determination to carry on with the census, but it is a well known fact that the federal government has no mechanism to collect accurate census figures due to the forced migrations that have taken place across the length and breadth of Pakistan.

For the record, this year's census is expected to cost the Pakistan exchequer a monumental 178 million dollars.

Source: ANI