The Faisal Chowk — erstwhile Charing Cross — on Lahore’s Mall Road is an important site for resistance. Protests that result in traffic jams are the norm. Almost every week, human rights activists, far-right groups, and workers’ federations make their way with posters and slogans to the intersection to campaign for their causes.
It was such a day in February 2017 when pharmacists and medicals store owners were protesting changes to the Drug Act that a deadly suicide attack struck. This February 13 marks the second anniversary of the incident.
At least 15 people, including Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Traffic (r) Ahmed Mobeen, were killed and over 100 wounded in the attack.
The bomber, who came on a motorbike, had detonated his suicide vest next to a Digital Satellite News Gathering (DSNG) van at 6:10 pm targeting the site of a protest, where negotiations were going on between protesting pharmacists and police.
Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, a breakaway faction of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) had assumed responsibility for the attack. This was the same group that had claimed the responsibility for an Easter Day bombing in Lahore that killed more than 70 people in Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park.
Though the dust has long settled on the incident and monetary compensation had been promised to victims’ families, protestors still meet outside the Punjab Assembly building, and people look out of office windows as they pass and once in a while, remember.