News is just trickling in that Sri Lanka’s cricketers, who are on tour in Pakistan, were attacked in Lahore. The cricketers were en route to Lahore’s Gaddafi Stadium where they were to face the Pakistani cricket team on day three of the second test match. Preliminary reports indicate that several cricketers, including heir apparent Kumara Sangakkara, were injured during the attack.
It is always a bit of a challenge to glean any information from channels like NDTV or Times Now during an ongoing incident, because their “journalists” and “news reporters” neither know how to construct a coherent sentence in English, nor have gumption to present a half decent analysis of the said incident. The Times of India is now running a news item that screams: “Terrorists” behind attack on Lanka cricketers. Really? Did you piece that together yourself, Einstein? I’m sure the art of stating the bleeding obvious isn’t mastered overnight.
Images flashed on the TV screen showed terrorists brandishing what appeared to be rocket launchers and AK-47s. There is no word on whether the terrorists were captured, killed, or if they have even been identified. The real issue that should continue to concern anyone following Pakistan is that the breakdown of law and order is spreading eastward at an astonishing rate. Despite assurances of security cover to visiting teams, this attack reinstates the notion to this blogger that the civilian government (whether federal or state) is in no position whatsoever to be making such guarantees. The political machinations of the civilian and military leadership of Pakistan will try to lump this in with the Mumbai attack to reinforce to the West that they are victims of the same terrorism that India and the rest of the world are subject to.
It is not beyond doubt that Punjabi terror groups such as Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) or Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) could be responsible for the attack. The establishment may also choose to quickly transfer blame to the “bad” Taliban (as opposed to Maulana Fazlullah’s “good” Taliban) or to Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT). Who orchestrated the attack is not as important as recognizing the obvious malaise that is devouring the legitamacy of the Pakistani state. I have previously made the case that Pakistan today consists essentially only of Punjab and Sindh. Various sections of NWFP and Balochistan have already been bequeathed/abandoned/surrendered. Despite every assurance of security, a dastardly attack was perpetrated against high profile, soft targets in the heart of a major Pakistani city that lies 45 kilometers from the International Border (IB) with India. How safe are our borders?
PS — Raman’s Q&A on the Lahore attack (March 4, 2009)