Sharif cancels UK visit following Lahore blasts

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Monday cancelled his visit to Britain following the horrific Easter bombing at a popular park in Lahore that left over 70 people dead.

Sharif was scheduled to leave for Britain on Monday but he cancelled his trip after the blast on Sunday evening at the Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park in Lahore where Christians were celebrating Easter, a spokesman at the prime minister’s secretariat said.

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Sharif was to meet British prime minister David Cameron and then fly to the U.S. for the Nuclear Security Summit 2016.

“He will now travel directly to the U.S. after a couple of days,” the spokesman was quoted as saying by The News International.

He added that the premier had held detailed, several hours-long deliberations at a high-level meeting here that reviewed the security situation in Lahore, comparatively a peaceful city in an otherwise violence-wracked country.

In the wake of the attack, the Punjab government had declared an emergency in Lahore and announced three days of mourning.

The brutal attack killed over 70 people and was claimed by the Jamaatul Ahrar, a splinter group of the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which released a statement saying it targeted the Christian community on the occasion of Easter and warned of more such attacks.

Jamaatul Ahrar had also claimed last year’s twin suicide bombings at churches in Lahore’s Youhanabad area, which killed at least 15 people and sparked violent protests across the city.