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Posted by wmmbb in South Asia.

It looks as if there will be no international cricket matches in Pakistan following the attack on the visiting Sri Lankan cricket team by masked men using assault weapons in Lahore. So who carried out the attack and why?

Imran Khan, who is close to matters cricket, says the the level of security provided to to the Sri Lankan cricket team was scandalous. He is suggesting the Pakistani Government was negligent or incompetent.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attacks, and the usual suspects have been suggested. According to Lahore police chief Haji Habibur Rehman, the gunmen opened fire as the motorcade approached a roundabout in the centre of Lahore. The New York Times reports:

Mr. Rehman said the gunmen were in their early 20s and were bearded. He described them as resembling Pathans, an ethnic group that dominates North West Frontier Province and tribal areas, an apparent suggestion that assailants were Taliban militants from the tribal areas.

The police chief said 12 gunmen attacked the cricketers, and were positioned in vehicles, including motorized rickshaws. According to another police official, Shoaib Janbaz, the gunmen fired a rocket-propelled grenade but it missed the motorcade and did not explode.Police escorts who were traveling in a van fired back but failed to hit the attackers, witnesses said. The assailants fled in the rickshaws and another vehicle stolen near the scene, Mr. Janbaz said, leaving behind rucksacks filled with pistols, hand grenades and an AK-47 assault rifle, he said. Television footage showed several of the gunmen firing with apparent impunity, spraying bullets from automatic rifles from the traffic circle and a grassy sidewalk area.

M Ilyas Khan at BBC News reports on the likely suspects, but if the report above suspects the perpetrators are likely to be Pathans. So what would they have to gain, or is this simply another example of a terrorist attack on a soft target in response to an unrelated grievance?

It occurs to me there may be a number of instrumental causes, including retaliation for the attack on the Red Mosque and the drone and helicopter attacks killing civilians as part of the Afghanistan warfare, that have as yet received little notice.

It would not be the first time that attack on a soft target was organized to create maximum publicity. Pakistan with its history of military dictatorships, supported by the West, especially the United States, and its fractious ethnic populations, and a nuclear power, is not looking especially stable.

The invasion of Afghanistan over seven years ago was supposed to be a quick fix, like that of Antigua or Panama, but as perhaps was predictable by those knew something about the area has proven to be very destabilizing, if not catastrophic.


Madhavi Bhasi provides a historical background of some important influences on Pakistan’s developments at Informed Comment: Global Affairs.

Daniel Flitton in The Sydney Morning Herald provides a reasonable analysis.

The Independent carries a Reuters report that includes a connection with Mumbai:

The ambush bore many similarities to last year’s three-day hostage drama in the Indian financial capital of Mumbai.

Working in pairs, the attackers in Lahore carried walkie-talkies and backpacks stuffed with water, dried fruit and other high-energy food – a sign they anticipated a protracted siege and might have been planning to take the players hostage.

None of the gunmen was killed and all apparently escaped into the teeming city after a 15-minute gun battle with the convoy’s security detail.

William Dalrymple, in The Guardian, does what good journalists are supposed to, and strangely it did not involve picking up the phone. He put the current situation in the context of what he had observed a year ago travelling in Pakistan during the election, and in so doing accomplishes what sometimes is elusive a portrait of the big picture.

Fawzia Afzal-Khan, via Counter Punch, expresses a contrary view that it is not the fault of the Barbarian foreigners with their indiscriminate killing missions, but an internal Pakistan dynamic of desperation, poverty and emergency and the resort to authoritarian organization. How does the oppression of women, often violent, serve anybody’s interests?

Zulfikar Majid, also in Counter Punch, reports on the post-imperial map making problem that is Kashmir, suggesting that it is a opportunity. I suspect the Indians will remain intransigent for what they consider good reasons.

Gary at Public Opinion highlights the role of Pakistan’s spy outfit – the Inter-Service Agency.

Ali Sethi in The New York Times reports on the belief that the attack may have been staged by the Pakistani Government, which, if true, changes the story completely. Furthermore, the match referee, Chris Broad suggests in The Sydney Morning Herald, that somebody knew because the Pakistan team bus was delayed.


Pakistan is more of a problem than Afghanistan, although Pashtun ethnic nationalism and Muslim identity (with its local characteristics) is common to both.

The use of violence by outside forces, including but not principally Australia, has been destructive. What would be expected from people who’s mission and skills involves blowing stuff up?

Violence, as in Palestine, has been used in place of attempting dialogue, with predictable consequences, not least the continuing cycle of violence. Violence is a paradigm, a way of thinking about the world, a “mindset”, a frame of reference, which has never worked, and why would we expect for it to work now. In other words how can justice be created from injustice. The CIA, RAW, and other players, have the same “mindset”.

Ways have to found to continue the sporting contact through cricket, even if international games cannot be held in Pakistan. The sporting connection between India and Pakistan that cricket provides is important in itself. The level of security for visiting teams have to be improved (following on from Imran Khan’s observation).



1. Joe - March 5, 2009

this attack on Sri Lanka’s unsuspecting Cricket team is tragic because of the deaths and because of the long term effect this will have internationally

2. Global Voices Online » Australian reactions to “Cricket Terror” - March 5, 2009


3. Oz Bloggers’ Reactions to “Cricket Terror” « Blogocrats - March 5, 2009

[…] Duckpond […]

4. wmmbb - March 6, 2009

Thanks for commenting Joe.

The people killed were police. As suggested to me, the question raised is what happens to their families?

It is still not clear to me who benefits from this event and how.

5. Global Voices in het Nederlands » Australië: Reacties op “cricket-terrorisme” - March 6, 2009


6. swapcool - March 20, 2009

Its very bad, Pakistan had alread may problems. I dont think any team is likely to tour pakistan in near future.

7. 1989bilayy - November 8, 2009

NICE BLOG! a GREAT read Love it 🙂
http://www.MyCricketHighlights.com 🙂
NICE BLOG! a GREAT read Love it 🙂
http://www.MyCricketHighlights.com 🙂
NICE BLOG! a GREAT read Love it 🙂
http://www.MyCricketHighlights.com 🙂

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