The broad daylight attack on Sri Lankan cricket team on March 3, is really a matter of anguish for everyone in Pakistan, Sri Lanka and the world in general.
The incident has gravely demoralized the world of sports. This occurrence in the heart of Pakistan, in Lahore, otherwise considered to be a comparatively safe and cultural city of Pakistan has caused eight deaths besides injuring six players of the Sri Lankan cricket team. None out of almost a dozen heavily armed attackers could be arrested by the law enforcement agencies and Lahore police. These events indicate a huge security lapse made for the visiting team, at a time when there were confirmed reports that Sri Lankan team would be attacked either en-route from hotel to stadium or else within the stadium during the game. The attackers which appeared to be in their early twenties, had bags on their backs filled with weapons, ammunition and eatables mostly in the form of dry fruit, thus having dedicated mission to implement. In the video the attackers were seen moving freely before, during and even after the attack, either; on foot, motorbikes or rickshaws. The happening on the one hand speaks of poor security arrangements made for the visiting team, while on the other, is indicative of the fact that the attackers were well trained and had methodically rehearsed their actions before final blow on March 3. Before going over to the implications of attack; it is considered appropriate to know the background of attackers and their true motives. Mr. Rehman Malik, advisor to the Prime Minister on internal affairs, said: "We suspect a foreign hand behind this incident. The democracy of the country has been undermined, and foreigners are repeatedly attacked to harm the country's image." United States pointed its fingers towards Al-Qaeda, Taliban and Lashkar-e-Tayyiba and also declared it as a new strategy of attack, 'new terrorist strike of choice'. A former White House counter terrorism expert, Juan Zarate opined: "It's likely that there will be more of these kinds of attacks, which are much more difficult to defend against". There is yet another view from a South Asian specialist who says that elements of Tamil Tiger's organization, the LTTE might have been involved in this attack. Some analysts are even trying to establish a linkage between elements of LTTE and some Pakistan-based banned Islamic organisations like Lashkar-e-Taiba etc. A number of people even tried to link it with the Mumbai attacks of November 26, 2008. In reality, this terrorist attack is being viewed differently by various analysts and security experts. No doubt, it was an act of terrorism, scrupulously planned and exceptionally executed by well trained terrorists, whether domestic or foreigners. Sequel to attack, a lot of arms and ammunition stashes including; rocket launchers, rifles, detonators and even 9mm pistols were recovered from the area around the scene of the incident by Lahore police. So far over two dozen people have been arrested on the charges of qualms, mostly from the areas along the Indo-Pak border. To bring the incident in the corrective perspective, it is worth mentioning that subsequent to the Mumbai terror attack; the Indian Government cancelled the scheduled visit of its cricket team to Pakistan. Thereafter Pakistani cricket board requested Sri Lanka for playing a friendly cricket series within Pakistan. India put emphasis on Sri Lankan Government not to send its team to Pakistan. But Sri Lankan Government while upholding its friendship sent its cricket team to Pakistan, thus seriously annoying its hegemonic neighbour, India. On its part, Indian premier intelligence agency, RAW decided to bring a bad taste in the relationship of both countries by incapacitating the series. After collecting all evidences and information, on January 22, 2009, the Crimes Investigation Department (CID) of Pakistan, reported to Punjab government, that Indian intelligence agency RAW would attack the Sri Lankan team. Unfortunately, owing to the political turmoil and postings of the concerned security officials of the provincial government, all these warnings and alarm bells were ignored as tittle-tattle. After the unbeaten conduct of the attack, Indian officials as a pre-emptive strategy accused Lashkar-e-Tayba, for the conduct of these attacks. Logic provided for this was based on an assumption that this religious outfit indeed wanted to kidnap some players of the Sri Lankan team and later use them for the release of its leader, Zakiur Rehman Naqvi, arrested in connection with Mumbai attacks. To supplement the disingenuous story of RAW, Indian Foreign, Defence and Home Ministers issued evocative statements. Mr. Pranab Mukherjee even said: "Unless infrastructure and facilities available to the terrorist organisations within Pakistan or territory under its control are completely dismantled, repetition of these incidents will take place". This and many other statements from Indian officials were in fact an effort to project and transmit cynical image of Pakistan to international community that, it is a hazardous country for the conduct of any sports event in the future. This was a clear indication that enemies of Pakistan are not letting any chance to disparage the country. Apart from the overt contemplations by Indian officials, behind the scene RAW was adamant on the theme that, since Sri Lanka had accepted the invitation to visit Pakistan, contrary to Indian desires, therefore she and her host had to be taught a lesson, later transpired in the form of Lahore episode. The timings of the attack on Sri Lankan team cannot be viewed in isolation, nor was the attack a mere coincidence. Rather, it was worked out meticulously and implemented with utmost impunity. In the 25 years of insurrectionary history of Sri Lanka, the attack was conducted at a time, once the RAW sponsored LTTE had almost lost its infighting with Sri Lankan state forces in February 2009 and its ailing leader Mr. Prabhakaran was airlifted by secret services elements of India to a safer location. Since there have been cooperation between Pakistan and Sri Lanka in defense and security and Pakistan has provided her with necessary military hardware which proved very helpful in quelling the insurgency, therefore India found the occasion as the most opportune to hunt both with a single shot. Thus India drove the wedge in the magnificent relationship of Pakistan and Sri Lanka. While tracing the history, this assault is unique in the sense that, after the Munich incident of 1972, where 11 Israeli athletes were killed, no sports event has ever been targeted in the world. This incident therefore, cannot be considered as coincidence. It was a deliberate assail, aiming for long term effects on Pakistan; both economically and politically. Already Pakistan has suffered in economy, once owing to prevailing security situation and domestic instability, the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), has been reduced from 8.4 billion USD in 2006/07 to 40 million in 2008/09. There is a similar sufferance in the political physique of Pakistan on account of such like incidents. Unquestionably, incidents of such magnitude could not have been done by any Pakistani or anyone having even a minutest love for Pakistan and cricket. Religious organisations in Pakistan would not have done that, mainly because there are neither commonalities of believes nor tangible signs/reasons of acquaintances between LTTE and these Pakistan based religious organisations. Even the arrest of Zakiur Rehman Naqvi by Pakistani authorities is considered to be a precautionary act; otherwise he or anyone else from Pakistani soil is not anticipated to be involved in the Mumbai attack. Indeed, Mumbai attack was a staged managed drama by Hindu fundamentalists aiming at putting a lid on the terrorist activities of Colonel Prashad Srikant Purohit and his Military network, operating against Muslims and Christians alike in India and to eliminate Mr Hamant Kurkara, the fact finder honest inquiry officer of Maharashtra anti-terrorist squad. The hawkish Indian leadership perhaps had in its mind that this would give them an excuse to launch preemptive strikes on Pakistani territory to fulfill its dream of emerging as a regional hegemonic power. By now, it is hardly a secret that over the years, RAW has drastically contributed in the destabilization of Pakistan through its terrorist network operative in the country. Even today it has thousands of agents intruded inside Pakistani borders to create the nastiest security tribulations. Besides, its previously planted agents, in all eventualities, there is yet another likelihood that, LTTE elements might have been used by RAW for this attack on Sri Lankan team for four obvious rationales: first, the terrorist organisation is basically trained and sponsored by RAW, under 'Indra Doctrine', therefore always acts on its orders to pursue its mission of destabilizing the neighbouring/regional countries; secondly, Sri Lankan cricket team comprises Sinhalese, which are the main target of LTTE; third, Pakistan has been providing the military aid to Sri Lankan Government for its counterinsurgency operations, which had caused distress in the camps of RAW and LTTE, both considered this, as the most appropriate occasion to level the score and fourth; the desperate RAW backed LTTE, after losing the battle in Sri Lanka (Jaffna and surroundings), must have tried to regain its significance by targeting the vulnerable events like cricket; thus demonstrating that the terrorist organisation has the potential to carry out its activities elsewhere, outside the Sri Lankan borders. Irrespective of the factors responsible for the Lahore terrorist attack, it is very palpable that, the incident was aimed at slandering Pakistan and declaring it, a state utterly unsecure for the conduct of any international event on its soil. It has also placed caution on the visits of foreign nationals in Pakistan, in a way; pushing it towards an economic and political commotion. In the wake of the damaging role being played by RAW, the security of such like events cannot be left to the law enforcing agencies only. Time has come where nation as a whole has to rise to the occasion by becoming fully cognizant of its security intimidation, especially those covert activities, emanating from across the borders. Apart from the national leadership, intelligentsia and the media must play a positive role through a campaign of awareness among the masses of Pakistan against such like incidents in the future.