The last 24 hours have been very stressful for Mubarik Syed.
The Pakistani native hasn’t been able to reach family members in Lahore since he received word of the deadly bombings Easter Sunday that killed 70 and left hundreds injured, mostly women and children, at an amusement park.
“It’s absolutely stressful,” he said Monday.
He said one of the first things security officials are likely to do in a terrorism emergency is cut cell service, preventing attackers, but also civilians, from communicating.
Syed now lives in Saskatoon, but when he lived in Pakistan his family would frequently visit Lahore when he was a child and he lived in the city for two years during college.
He has fond memories of playing in the very same park that now sits in partial ruin from the attacks.
As the second largest city in the country, Lahore is known as the food capital of the Punjab province, Syed said. The historic city still bares the markings of its British occupation in the mix of Victorian, Gothic and Mughal architecture.
“It’s a fun city. People are so hospitable, very loving people. It’s a very crowded city; lots of traffic everywhere you go, but you find your way,” he said.
However, Syed said the increasingly common wave of terrorism and the deaths of both military and civilians has chipped away at the city’s fun-loving nature.
“Every now and then there’s a blast or a mass shooting. I don’t think it is as fun any more as it used to be when I was studying there,” he said. “I can visualize sitting here what kind of situation people are dealing with and how people are coping with it. It’s terrible.”
Meanwhile in Regina, Syed Moazzam was frozen in horror when he saw news of the latest bombing, but his first thought was that it happened again. Moazzam moved to Canada 12 years ago after living in Islamabad and Karachi and he remembers visiting Lahore quite often.
“The feeling was beyond expression, it’s so painful , it’s so painful that we have been receiving this news for decades now and it slowed down, but yet it’s still there, it’s not over yet,” Moazzam said.
Syed said he feels law and order have evaporated as citizens, Muslim and Christian alike live in a constant state of fear.
A breakaway Taliban faction has claimed responsibility for the attacks at an amusement park in the city of Lahore. The terrorist group said the bombing was meant to target Christians, but of the dead at least 14 were identified as Christians and 44 as Muslim, according to Lahore Police.
“We never had this kind of animosity where people hate each other just because of their religious background,” Moazzam said. “Now some forces, some people they are trying to create this kind of hatred in the country.”
Moazzam said it hurts to think attacks such as the ones in Pakistan get less attention than those in western countries such as France and Belgium. While it is a very good thing people gather with candles to start memorials for victims of attacks in western countries, he said there are fewer people who show they care when it happens in Pakistan.
Regardless of if they get attention or not, Syed hopes safety returns soon.
“I hope the life returns to normal, where children can go to school happily in the morning and come back in the afternoon happily and parents are not worried if they’re going to see their kid later,” Syed said.