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Barbaric Pakistani Taliban: Sri Lankan cricket team attacked

Another show of Barbarism from the Pakistani Taliban: Sri Lankan cricket team attacked

By Jamsheed Basha Abumohammed

3 March 2009

The world cricket was shocked today when as many as fifteen terrorists attacked the Volvo Bus in which Sri Lankan players were travelling to the Stadium. The incident occurred just a few yards from the Gaddafi Stadium. The shootout was a heinous act by a bunch of cowards out to harm the civilians. In the melee five of the bodyguards were killed and a few were injured including Sri Lankan players. It is highly reprehensible act reminiscent of the 26/11 attack on Mumbai. It appears that the same group that ventured to attack Mumbai was involved in today's attack as well. The irony and sorry state of affairs was that none of the fifteen terrorists were either injured or arrested. They escaped unhurt.

The dismal show of Pakistan security personnel who came late on the scene but failed to cordon off the roads was equally reprehensible. One can easily see the civilian vehicles were just going about their business with no stopping by any of the police or the security personnel. The news channels carried out the full story with clippings from the place where the terrorists were shown moving menacingly in all directions, armed with AK-47 rifles, hand grenades and rocket launchers. Luckily for Sri Lankan players that the rocket did not hit the Volvo bus and sped past it. They were doubly lucky when the hand grenade tossed up in the direction of the bus did not explode. Two of the six players are still in hospital with some serious injuries while four others received minor injuries.

The attacked forced the authorities to abandon the match and cancel the rest of the tour. Besides, the players were seen air-lifted by the helicopter that landed on the middle of the pitch in the Gaddafi Stadium first to Abu Dhabi and from there back to Colombo. Pakistanis should know as they were rightly reminded by the Sri Lankan President that the players were there to play the game of cricket. The attack only reminds us of the intolerant society that exist in Pakistan. This is the first time that such an attack has happened to an international team and its players after the Munich massacre on the Israeli athletes during the German Olympics.

The attack also reminds the world that Pakistan is the epicentre of terrorism even though it is trying to divert world attention from the main issue of the existence of terror network in their soil.  This also suggests that Pakistan is not safe for any sporting events for the next 3 to 5 years. The Aussies, New Zealand and Indian players were right in refusing to play in Pakistan for this reason only. There was no safety for anyone in that country. Even Domini Cork, former English Player, currently commenting on the match, escaped the attack, and told a news channel that he would not return to Pakistan as his family was more important to him. Besides, two umpires also were injured in the attack.

 A dangerous situation is prevailing in Pakistan and the world must wake up to take notice. What was intriguing to a lay man was that when such a large number of terrorists  encircled the bus as big as Volvo, with so many weaponry  in hand, they could have riddled the bus with bullets. But this has not happened. This is a mystery. Whether the terrorists were there to demonstrate their power or just to scare the government or to tell the world that Pakistan is also a victim of terrorism. There is a definite game plan involved in it. This appears to me to be a stage-managed show though Pakistan authorities and analysts have dismissed such a theory. A detailed and impartial probe alone would unravel the mystery. The escape of all the terrorists in such a large number without injury is also baffling the bystander. Pakistan should come out clean in this regard.

Pakistan has to hang its head in shame that this could happen in such a broad day light and in the heart of the city. Pakistan also owes an apology not only to the Sri Lankan people and government but also to the world of cricket as a whole. This terrorist attack has put a question mark on the safety and security of the players in the cricket loving countries. Pakistan authorities must come out of the self denial mode as the stark realities suggest that all is not well in that country. It also suggests that the Taliban, whose influence is spreading fast, may soon take over the reins of Pakistan government soon. If Pakistan’s civilian government does not wake up early and take action as strong as necessary to dismantle all terror networks, then God alone would save that country from the impending disaster.

The whole world including US President Barack Obama watched the attack with utter dismay and disbelief. Clearly President Obama’s fears about the growing influence of terrorists in Pakistan through Af- Pak borders was not unfounded. The US definitely should do something to stem the rot and save Pakistan from its impending take-over by the savage and barbaric forces that are out to ruin the humanity. The hurt is so deep that the world would probably not sympathise with the Pakistanis if they were to be annihilated from the face of the earth. In any event the world cannot afford to just watch the mayhem that is being unleashed by these barbaric forces from time to time. The attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team was not a one off event but a recurring one happening so nonchalantly in the region. This region has therefore become completely unsafe. It is now up to all peace loving people of the world to unite and bring Pak authorities to senses. Jai Hind.

The author A.M. Jamsheed Basha is a Chennai-based columnist.