PM Sharif cancels Britain visit after Lahore attack


Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif cancels Britain visit after Lahore attackPakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has cancelled his visit to Britain following the deadly blast that ripped through a public park in Lahore where Christian families were celebrating Easter on Sunday, killing 70 people and wounding over 250. Sharif was scheduled to leave for Britain on March 28 but he cancelled his visit after the blast at Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park, according to a spokesperson at Pakistani Prime Minister’s secretariat. Mr Sharif was scheduled to meet UK’s Prime Minister David Cameron on his way to the US for the Nuclear Security Summit 2016. He will now travel directly to the US.

The spokesperson also said that Mr Sharif held detailed deliberations at a high-level meeting and reviewed security situation in Pakistan. The meeting lasted for several hours, and was attended by Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and officials. During the meeting in Islamabad, Mr Sharif said terrorists and their facilitators involved in Lahore suicide attack would be taken to task at all costs.

The Taliban faction Jamaat-ul-Ahrar has claimed responsibility for the Lahore attack, saying it deliberately targeted Christians celebrating Easter. The bombing of the amusement park was the deadliest attack on Christians in Pakistan since the 2013 Peshawar church bombing that killed more than 80 people.

Pakistan has a small Christian population of around 2.5 million out of its total population of 200 million. Pakistan has announced three days of official mourning, in solidarity with its Christian community. However, the bombing raises questions on whether adequate protection was not provided to them before the bomber struck. The attack took place at a time when the Pakistan government is facing a different threat from religious extremists. The attack also underscore that Pakistan’s fight against terrorism is far from over.

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