Early today morning a number of terrorist people on foot attacked the Sri Lankan cricket team as it was approaching Gaddafi Stadium the bus was brutally attacked by almost twelve gunmen as it passed through the Liberty Roundabout.
The bus was miraculously shielded from about two rocket attacks and serious damage was avoided as Police Security escorts retaliated for about twenty-five minutes with heavy gunfire. This sadly resulted in critical injuries to police forces and about five of these selfless public servants lost their lives protecting the lives of our cricketing guests.
Reports initially emerged that quite a number of Sri Lankan players were injured but as the news filtered through two players received serious wounds one was a grazing wound to the chest and the other to the ankle. Remaining players received minor injuries due to flying debris and shrapnel. As of now the Sri Lankan team has been evacuated via a helicopter to Lahore airport for an onwards journey to Sri Lanka via Dubai aboard an Etihad Airways flight
Watching different channels and looking at the footage of the attack, it is clear that religious fundamentalists may have struck yet again. They were armed with hand grenades, rocket launchers, modern rifles and other sophisticated weapons apparently they were with a small beard and looked to belong to Pushtoon origin [?].
Lahore Police was primarily busy in curtailing the political rivalry with PML-N in Punjab for the 12th March Long MarchThe government is claiming that they were able to save the Sri Lankan team and I remain shocked to hear the top Lahore police officers saying that there was no security lapses then one has to wonder how such a disaster could have been orchestrated amid a tight security situation. The team was assured a high level security protocol which should have ideally resembled a mile long blockade as witnessed during the VVIP movement of dignitaries like the President of Pakistan Mr. Zardari and the Prime Minister Gilani. During such movements people are usually stopped well short of the liberty roundabout, almost a few hundred yards away, to now have 12 gun totting individuals making an ambush on the Cricket teams motorcade means a massive security lapse on the part of the local administration
Though one should look at the this disaster in light of the political and bureaucratic changes that took place during the last one week. The Lahore top police’s officers were transferred and new people were brought mainly to suppress the proposed long march of lawyers due on 12 March and resistance by PML-N supporters against the toppling of their Punjab government.
The new top Lahore police officer, a loyalist of PPP has been brought from Quetta, Baluchistan. He has not yet settled properly and his priority was to control the lawyers and other political activists who were demanding an end to Asif Zardari’s and Salman Taseer‘s dictatorial measures. To an extent a very high level meeting was held yesterday between the Punjab governor, police officers and top bureaucrats discussing n how to curtail and stop the proposed long march. It has emerged from yesterdays meeting that their course of action was to go for mass arrests. There was no mention or any discussion on Sri Lankan team security
It is now certain that this tragic event marks the end of Cricket in Pakistan for sometime, the blame game with India is already nearing a frenzy, analysts like Kamran Khan on Geo and Hamid Gul have pointed fingers towards India already. One must note that the attack looks erringly too similar to the Mumbai attack but logically one must understand that this could very well be a cover up to instigate a war of words between India and Pakistan. Our politicians, intelligence agencies and media were blood thirsty looking for an excuse to kick back at India for the Mumbai assault and todays events in Lahore might serve them with an opportunity.
My position on this blame game – is quite honestly – no solution will come through, the bureaucrats will have an endless debate, terrorists will continue to breed and attack again. Both countries, and I mean both India and Pakistan must strengthen their own borders and ensure peace for their own citizens. Blaming the ghost on the other side will not serve any purpose
Kamran Abbassi on cricinfo quite simply summarizes the scenario
The least of the consequences of this disaster is that those who have advocated the continuation of international cricket in Pakistan – including me – have been proved wrong. No international team will now visit Pakistan, and the Pakistan Cricket Board should voluntarily arrange all future tours at neutral venues for the next year, may be longer. This the darkest day in the history of Pakistan cricket and it occurred in a pleasant suburb of Lahore, a once great city of gardens and tranquility,
The brave Sri Lankan team did not deserve this insult, and all sympathies are with their players and the officials who have been injured. Lets hope for a better tomorrow, whilst we watch quietly as the blame game circus starts all over again.