Fifty three days ago we visited the Wagah border between India and Pakistan, blogged about its famed border closing ceremony, and the fairground feel in the crowds that go to shout and dance each day.
Today, a suicide bomber blew himself up there, murdering fifty five in the process. His attack has been claimed by Pakistani Taliban. It was retribution, they say, for Pakistan’s military operations against them on its Western borders.
The bomber must have made roughly the same trip that we did towards Wagah. He detonated at one of the checkpoint that our skin colour ensured didn’t look at us too hard. It seems the bomber thought he was about to be found out, so made a checkpoint his target, rather than the border itself. It’s the beginning of Muharram, a month of special importance in Shia Islam, so there were still lots of people around, and lots of them died.
This is a tragic day. It risks reinvigorating the caricature of Pakistan that the Western media perpetuates. So, for the record, we found Pakistan to be a wonderful place to travel with friendly, open, curious and inherently hospitable people. Our thoughts are with all of them today. A salaam alaikum Pakistan – peace be with you.
There are still many parts of Pakistan that are unequivocally safe, and great places to visit. The far north we even called travel Nirvana. But today’s bombing is also a reminder that things can get very real there, very fast.