Pakistan: Now or Never?
Perspectives on Pakistan
Conspiracy theories have filled a void in Pakistan that opened up as soon as the dozen gunmen who attacked the visiting Sri Lankan cricket team made a leisurely getaway without any apparent casualties after a 25 minute gun battle.
Since the attack on Tuesday, Pakistani authorities have yet to reveal where the investigation was going, despite Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi saying “important leads” had been established.
There has been finger pointing in the Pakistani media in various directions, but the sympathies of the indiviual reporter or media group have to be examined in every case. Only the conspiracy theorists have answers to who could have done it and why.
WHO ARE THE SUSPECTS?
Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Pakistani jihadi group blamed for the slaughter of nearly 170 people in Mumbai last November. There were some similiarities, but LeT hasn’t got any history of attacking inside Pakistan.
Maybe LeT fears the Pakistan government, having already arrested a handful of LeT members named in the Mumbai case, seriously aims to put it out of
business and wanted to send a warning, destabilise a Pakistani government it thinks is soft on India and Kashmir. Maybe it is worried the old friends in Pakistani intelligence are abandoning them.
President Asif Ali Zardari has said that an agreement signed last month to allow Islamic law in the troubled Swat Valley in return for a ceasefire was made with religious clerics, and not the Taliban. The Pakistani state had not negotiated with the Taliban and other extremist elements, and nor will it ever do so, Zardari wrote in an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal.
But some people are questioning the distinction that Zardari is drawing between the “traditional local clerics” and the Swat Taliban militants who effectively control what was once an idyllic holiday destination. In the light of the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore, the first major strike on international sport since the Munich Olympic massacre of 1972, the debate over the deal has acquired a sharper edge as some see it as having emboldened the militants in the first place.
India’s ruling Congress party thinks Pakistan is fast becoming the “Somalia of South Asia”. The attack on Sri Lankan cricketers in Lahore was the result of the state ceding its territory to the fundamentalists and Taliban of the world, a party spokesman said.
Strong words these, but are they going to come back to haunt India and the Congress itself ? Is this really just about Pakistan or is the fire, which many believe began when foreign forces moved into Afghanistan, already dangerously close to India?
In a report released late last month, the U.S. Atlantic Council think tank warned that the ramifications of state failure in Pakistan would be far graver than those in Afghanistan, with regional and global impact. “With nuclear weapons and a huge army, a population over five times that of Afghanistan and with an influential diaspora, Pakistan now seems less able, without outside help, to muddle through its challenges than at any time since its war with India in 1971.”
The report, co-sponsored by Senator John Kerry and urging greater U.S. aid, said time was running out to stabilise Pakistan, with action required within months. It’s not even been two weeks since that report was released, and already events in Pakistan have taken a dramatic turn for the worse – from the confrontation between President Asif Ali Zardari and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif to Tuesday’s attack on the Sri Lanka cricket team in Lahore.
from India Insight:
It's just not cricket.
Ducking for cover as bullets replaced bouncers... players evacuated in a military helicopter that lands right next to a 22-yard pitch... the same strip at Lahore's Gaddafi Stadium that saw Thilan Samaraweera score a double century the previous evening.
Samaraweera was hit on his leg during an audacious attack by armed militants on a convoy taking his team to the venue, an attack that left six cricketers injured and more than half-a-dozen Pakistani security personnel killed.
from Left field:
That myth was exploded on Tuesday after gunmen wounded six Sri Lankan players after firing heavy weapons as their team bus wound its way towards the Gaddafi stadium in Lahore to start the third day's play in the second test.
“Everything is officially going to hell.” The verdict of a reader quoted by All Things Pakistan said perhaps better than anyone else why the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore marked a defining moment in Pakistan’s agonising descent into chaos.
Six Sri Lankan cricketers and their British assistant coach were wounded when gunmen attacked their bus as it drove under police escort to the Gaddafi stadium in Lahore. Five policemen were killed.
from Left field:
Scenes of bloodshed on the streets of Lahore after gunmen attacked the Sri Lankan team bus instantly ended any hopes Pakistan might have held of coaxing the cricketing world back to its grounds.
Repercussions from Tuesday's incident that left six players wounded and five policemen dead may also be felt through the entire region for years to come (read our main report here and click here for reaction).
With violence at its highest level in Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban in 2001, you would think security must be the number one concern of the people there. Wrong: like much of the rest of the world, Afghans are worried more about the economic situation and unemployment than fretting over the outcome of the war between the U.S.-led coalition and the Taliban/al Qaeda.
A Gallup poll released a few days ago said 41 percent of Afghan adults named the economy as the number one important issue they and their families faced, followed by 16 percent mentioning the related issue of unemployment. The poll conducted in December found 12 percent named security as the most important concern.