Law Minister Rana Sanaullah, putting the speculations to an end, has finally declared the DHA Z-Block explosion in Lahore, which became mysterious due to the unending variety of explanations from police officers as well as emergency responders, as an “accident”.  According to eyewitnesses and the CCTV footage of the blast that made its way on social media, the video depicts a strong explosion followed by a storm of dust and panic in the vicinity. It partially damaged nearby buildings, charred vehicles and motorbikes parked in the immediate surroundings.

But perhaps the real panic ensued due to the rumours and unverified reporting of certain news channels, that a second explosion had taken place in Gulberg in Lahore, which turned out to be a hoax. Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) has served show cause notices to 29 satellite television news channels on Thursday for telecasting this fake news and rightly so, for Lahore stood at a standstill and schools remained closed on Friday due to terror and fear caused by these rumours – when a terror strike had not actually taken place.

Another message circulated via Whatsapp that claimed that the authorities had issued shoot at sight orders in Punjab for anyone not stopping at barriers or check-posts by law enforcement personnel. Yet another was a voice note of a man that claimed to be an army major and spread unnecessary fear of mobility in the city.

As a result of these rumours, The Lahore Literature Festival (LLF) 2017 has been reduced to a two-day event instead of three days with its venue changing. The LLF has become integral to promoting culture and arts in the country and the event has attracted tens of thousands of people from all over the province every year. Last year as well due to the security threat and the change of venue, caused a reduction in numbers of attendees. The fate of the PSL final also hangs in a balance due to these rumours of imminent threat. On Thursday and Friday, markets were also deserted and many commercial events across Lahore have been postponed or cancelled, resulting in economic losses.

These social activities, that can bring us together as unified communities are the tragedies of terrorism as well as irresponsible fear mongering. This psychological warfare must be ended immediately by the government’s effort to come forward to share correct, verified information with public as soon as possible, and by the citizens who have a collective responsibility to keep calm and not let terrorists succeed in inducing fear.