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ISLAMABAD: Leaders from across the world condemned Sunday’s attack in Lahore and expressed solidarity with the people and government of Pakistan in the wake of the tragic incident.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called President Mamnoon Hussain and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif separately to express solidarity and vowed to fight terrorism alongside Pakistan.

According to an official announcement issued from the presidency on Monday, the Turkish president expressed his grief over the incident and offered his condolences to the people of Pakistan and families of the victims.

The Turkish president said that in this moment of grief, he, the Turkish government and the people of Turkey were with their Pakistani brethren. “Terrorism is a scourge, which Pakistan and Turkey will eliminate through joint efforts,” Mr Erdogan was quoted as having said.

UNITED NATIONS: According to our correspondent at the UN, senior officials at the organisation condemned Sunday’s attack, extending their condolences to the victims and their families and expressing solidarity with the people and the government of Pakistan.

A statement issued by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s spokesperson called for the perpetrators of this “appalling” act to be swiftly brought to justice.

The UN chief underlined the need “to do utmost in putting in place protective measures to ensure the personal security of all individuals, including religious minority communities living in the country.”

AFGHAN PRESIDENT: Afghan President Ashraf Ghani called Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Monday to condole the loss of lives in Sunday’s attack.

According to a PM House statement, the Afghan president condemned the cowardly act. Prime Minister Sharif told the Afghan president that Operation Zarb-i-Azb would continue until the scourge of terrorism was eliminated. “Terrorists are on the run and are therefore moving to soft targets like women and children,” Prime Minister Sharif said.

He said that terrorism has become a serious global challenge. “Unfortunately, your country is also faced with this menace. The scourge of terrorism and extremism has to be countered with coordinated efforts at the regional and international levels,” he added.

IRANIAN PRESIDENT: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani also telephoned the prime minister to express sorrow over the loss of innocent lives. He expressed his ‘deepest condolences’ to the government and the people of Pakistan, especially those who lost loved ones.

JAPANESE PRIME MINISTER: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe condemned the Lahore attack and pledged his country’s support to Pakistan in the fight against terrorism.

“Japan strongly condemns the terror attack and expressed its support to the government and the people of Pakistan in the fight against terrorism,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in his message of condolence to Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, according to a statement of the Japanese embassy.

Our correspondent in Washington adds: US lawmakers, officials and politicians also joined world leaders on Monday in condemning the attacks and expressed solidarity with the people of Pakistan.

Expressing its “deepest condolences” to the loved ones of those killed, the White House said the United States “stands with the people and the government of Pakistan” at this difficult hour.

“We will continue to work with our partners in Pakistan and across the region, as together we will be unyielding in our efforts to root out the scourge of terrorism,” the statement added.

US State Department spokesman John Kirby said this cowardly act, which targeted innocent civilians, had exposed the true nature of these terrorists. “Attacks like these only deepen our shared resolve to defeat terrorism around the world, and we will continue to work with our partners in Pakistan and across the region to combat the threat of terrorism,” he said.

Leading Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, offered prayers for the victims. “Pakistan and all nations must confront and defeat terrorists,” tweeted the former secretary of state.

Republican frontrunner Donald Trump noted that terrorists were “targeting Christian women and children”. “I alone can solve” this problem, he tweeted.

His Republican rival, Ted Cruz, tweeted, “the evil that is radical Islamism struck in Pakistan in a shocking display of savagery.”

Another Democratic candidate Bernie Sander said: “We are grieving today for the families affected by the deplorable attack in Lahore. No one should ever fear taking their children to a park.”

“Let us remember the victims ... as we gather strength and resolve to defeat all who threaten our values,” tweeted another Republican presidential candidate, Governor John Kasich.

Senator Ben Cardin, ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said “the United States and our allies will remain committed to countering these heinous attacks and to bringing those responsible to justice.”

In Dallas, Texas, the Omni Hotel was lit up with the Pakistani flag on Sunday night in honour of the Lahore victims.

POPE FRANCIS: Pope Francis spoke out against the attacks on Monday from St Peter’s Square, calling them vile and abominable. He urged Pakistan’s leaders to restore peace, especially for religious minorities.

“I repeat, once again, that violence and murderous hatred lead only to pain and destruction; respect and fraternity are the only way to achieve peace,” he said, according to Vatican Radio.

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai issued a statement in which she said that “Pakistan and the world must unite. Every life is precious and must be respected and protected.”

British Prime Minister David Cameron said he was shocked by the terrorist attack in Lahore. “My thoughts are with the families and friends of the victims. We will do what we can to help.”

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau condemned the ‘deplorable bombing’ in Lahore. “Our thoughts and prayers are with all those killed or injured.”

French President Francois Hollande tweeted that France stands in solidarity with the people of Pakistan in their time of sorrow.

King Abdullah II of Jordan offered his condolences to the President of Pakistan over the terrorist attack.

Published in Dawn, March 29th, 2016