by Samad Khurram and Sara Seerat
Published in Daily News (Sri Lanka)
This letter is our expression of deep sorrow and grief at the savage attacks on the Sri Lankan cricket team while they were touring our country. As Pakistani citizens, we are shocked, angered, and greatly embarrassed at being the source of such anxiety to the people of Sri Lanka. There never can be a justification for such horrendous acts of violence, and the Pakistani nation strongly condemns this evil act.
The dastardly attacks were carried out by miscreants who do not share the common values that the peaceful citizens of both Sri Lanka and Pakistan cherish and uphold. Pakistan has been the victim of many terrorist attacks in the last few years, and it is evident that this cowardly act was another attempt to cause increased turmoil and chaos in a country that is already suffering through a period of extreme violence and anarchy.
We therefore thank the Sri Lankan team for agreeing to play in Pakistan even when other countries refused citing security concerns. In hindsight, those apprehensions seem very valid, but the courage of the Sri Lankan Cricket Board and players in agreeing to play is laudable, and the nation of Pakistan shall be forever indebted to your country. This tour was crucial for the revival of cricket in Pakistan, and we greatly appreciate your efforts in agreeing to be a part of this process.
Our two nations have always enjoyed close cricketing ties. Lahore, the city of this massacre, is the same town that witnessed the Sri Lankan team under Arjuna Ranatunga proudly win the cricket World Cup in 1996. The Pakistani fans cheerfully celebrated alongside Sri Lanka, for this was the victory of a close friend against the Australians who had been notoriously harassing South Asian cricketers. It is, now, of course, deeply distressing that the sport of cricket, which has always been the source of such joy to the people of Pakistan, is the cause of our humiliation today.
In the long tradition of jovial relations this comes as moment of disbelief and grief for Pakistanis. We have failed to protect perhaps the only team that had braved to enter our territory.
The only consolation in this episode is that all of the players survived. We sincerely pray for the swift recovery of Mahela Jayawardena, Thilan Samaraweera, Tharanga Paranavitana, Kumar Sangakkara, Ajantha Mendis, Suranga Lakmal, Chaminda Vaas and Paul Farbrace, and hope that they are able to return to cricket soon.
We express our appreciation for the remarks of the Sri Lankan Government and Foreign Ministry, forever solidifying the bonds between our nations. The Pakistani Foreign Office also reaffirmed today that Pakistan greatly values its relations with Sri Lanka, and we endorse this statement and look forward to extending this close friendship. In times of great distress, our allegiance to one another is what sustains us, and the Sri Lankan commitment to friendship with Pakistan displays the benevolent spirit of your nation.
Our nation expresses pride at the bravery of the van driver who, according to Kumar Sangakkara, heroically managed to deliver the players to safety. Tribute must be paid to the six Pakistani police officers who sacrificed their lives while trying to protect the Sri Lankan team.
Citizens of Sri Lanka, we share your grief. We are all one today.
Samad Khurram and Sara Seerat