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Lahore on Edge as Insurgency Heightens Attacks

October 29, 2009 at 6:26 PM EDT

JIM LEHRER: Now: A Pakistani city on edge greets the visiting U.S. secretary of state.

Margaret Warner reports from Lahore, Pakistan.

MARGARET WARNER: The streets of the Anarkali market in Lahore overflow with music, vendors hawking their wares, and families gathering the basics of daily life.

Pakistan’s second largest city and the capital of its biggest province, Punjab, has always been the country’s most cultured and life-loving hub. But a change has come to Lahore: terrorism, and, with it, a fear not known here before. The extremist violence once confined to Pakistan’s hinterlands has penetrated its major cities, including Lahore.

The first major blow came earlier this year, when members of a visiting Sri Lankan cricket team were gunned down in a bloody assault. And, just two weeks ago, attackers struck a police training academy, killing 11 officers and recruits.

A nervous Tahira Ifaq was in this market yet, just after a suicide bombing in a similar market in Peshawar killed more than 100. She said she had to be here.

TAHIRA IFAQ, (through translator): This is the first time I have left my house in 10 days, but I had to come out to shop for my brother’s wedding.

MARGARET WARNER: Across the alley, wedding fashion shopkeeper Sarvat Nadim’s sales are down 75 percent.

SARVAT NADIM SAID, (through translator): The security situation has badly affected my sales. It is the wedding season now, but no one is coming to shop.

MARGARET WARNER: These attacks so close to home have triggered a sea change in Lahoris’ attitude about the Pakistani militants and the U.S.-led campaign against them, says Najam Sethi, editor of The Friday Times.

NAJAM SETHI, editor, “The Friday Times”: For a long time, Lahoris were those core Pakistanis who said, this is not our war; this is America’s war. And, therefore, Lahore was spared.

But now Lahore is on the hit list. And there’s been a spate of terrorist attacks which have laid Lahore low, with the result that public opinion here is now changing, and they now see this as their war.