A long winter looms for Pakistan cricket

March 3, 2009

cricketA billion fans in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka — all test nations — have used the game of cricket as a balm for their myriad problems.

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.

While the players apparently escaped without serious injuries, at least eight Pakistanis lost their lives and a local umpire was critically wounded.

Cricket will never be the same again in the region.

Sri Lanka’s tour had itself come in the shadow of violence after the Indian government, its bilateral relations with its neighbour nosediving after the deadly November militant attacks in Mumbai, refused permission for its team to tour Pakistan in January-February.

The island team stepped into the breach, with Pakistan desperate for test cricket and money, having gone over a year without five-day games.

Former skipper Inzamam-ul Haq betrayed the helplessness of cricket administrators in Pakistan, unable to believe that militants, to draw global attention, could have targeted their favourite game.

“Such an attack on a sub-continent team means other teams will simply refuse to come,” he told a television channel.

Inzamam’s comments showed the realisation that the attackers had wiped out cricket’s healing touch in one go. 

Even at the peak of the ethnic strife in Sri Lanka, cricket teams or even media covering matches never felt threatened, although bombs have gone off in capital Colombo leaving teams such as New Zealand and South Africa shaken and abandoning their tours.

Players have never been targets and many were confident the kind of deadly attacks on Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics would never be repeated.

So has the attack finally dashed Pakistan’s hopes of staying on as a joint-host of the 2011 World Cup alongside India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka?

Pakistan seemed to nurse hopes even when the International Cricket Council (ICC) postponed the Champions Trophy last year with five of the eight teams set to boycott due to security fears. They then shifted the second most important one-day event in February out of Pakistan.

Although the influential Indian cricket board has largely stood by their Pakistan counterparts, attacks such as the one in Mumbai and Lahore have meant governments and security experts of the ICC have taken charge.

With teams such as Australia, New Zealand and England already refusing to travel to Pakistan, will the attack be the last straw for sub-continent teams in the years to come?

It looks like Pakistan cricket is set for a long winter.

PHOTO: Sri Lankan cricket team members prepare to board a Pakistani military helicopter at the Gaddafi stadium after the shooting in Lahore March 3, 2009. REUTERS/Syed Mujtaba

For a slideshow of photos on the shooting, please click here.

19 comments

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Only a failed state can attack players, Last time Palestinians did it, this time pakistan. Both support Islamic Fanaticism.

Srilanka was stupid enough in the first place to send players to a failed state and on top of that they won the series.

Pakistan should not be allowed to take part in any Modern world games, let these stone age idiots play their old games like dog fights,cock fights and Buzkashi (In which they carry a carcass of headless goat towards the goal, while riding on horses)

Posted by punjabiyaar | Report as abusive

punjabiyaar,

Now, now. Lets be nice. Hopefully this incident will wake up Pakistanis to the true reality of what is happening to their country. I am surprised that the Marriott Hotel bombing and the Pak army surrender to the Taliban in Swat did not hit a nerve.

I just hope (a BIG hope) that most of the population will not sit passively hoping that this will ALL go away if they do not involve themselves.

Pakistan will not participate in the 2011 world cup as host (99% chance of ICC decision). The Pakistan Cricket team will have to play in neutral venues like Dubai. However, this is going to cost the PCC a lot of money. The team has also got to make sure they will away from home. This brings a great moral boost.

Posted by bulletfish | Report as abusive

bulletfish:

This incident will not wake up pakistanis, you can wake up sleeping people but not the dead ones ;-) . On another blog they are already blaming indian for this.

I am not surprised that on Accepting Kasab a Pakistani, Pak PM Fired the Security advisor but nothing has been said against Pak Shipping Minister Nabil who says that he has evidence on Indian involvement in this attack.

He is not Home minister and not Sports Minister not even official spokesman. Where is the credibility of pakistan as a state.

Posted by punjabiyaar | Report as abusive

This is the time to hold everyone’s horses and pay our respects to those security men in Lahore who died while doing their jobs. Their personal feelings might have been different in regards to India, Islam etc. But they managed to protect the Sri Lankan cricket team and died in the line of fire. Soldiers and police have to be respected no matter what, for standing up to protect others.

There are lot of theories floating around regarding who is behind the attack. The modus operandi of this attack resembles that of the Mumbai attack. Most probably these gun men belong to the same pool of fidayeen trainees who trained with Ajmal Kasab in POK under the auspices of the LeT and ISI. Kasab had mentioned that more than thirty were trained and a dozen were chosen for the Mumbai operation. Now another dozen has been unleashed at Lahore. Unfortunately all of them have disappeared.

When the attack happened in Mumbai, Pakistan washed it off and did not help India in getting a grip over those who organized the attack. Pakistan’s ignorance and emotional anti-Indian sentiments has come back to bite them now. Now they will have to work with India to trace the origins of these groups and exterminate them. In the bargain, Pakistan might have to give up certain things dear to it that are meant for anti-Indian purposes. Otherwise, this monster will continue to grow.

There is no point in crying that Pakistan is a victim of terrorism. It is others who are the victims. And Pakistan will also suffer from it because of various interest groups in that country that act on their own accord.

This is the time for Pakistan to wake up and get other victimized countries involved directly to root out the cancer that is growing inside its territory. The monster has grown too big for even Pakistan to handle.

India should double up its security and postpone its cricket tournaments because they will be targeted, if not by the same group, but by frustrated Pakistani establishment itself. Pakistan cannot take it without hurting India in the bargain. India, unfortunately has the richest cricket board in the world and will be a prime target now to drive off everyone from there as well.

I did not see that much media coverage in the US and other countries on this attack. Mumbai attacks took prime time coverage. What happened in Lahore is of equal importance and I was surprised to see a lukewarm coverage. I am so happy for the Sri Lankans for coming forward to tour Pakistan and surviving a terrorist attack.

Until the terror machinery is dismantled inside Pakistan, international cricket will never return there.

It will be prudent to give dual citizenship to all Pakistani international cricketers, musicians and other talented people and help them get out of there for now. Countries like NZ, Australia, UK should come forward to take all the Pakistani talent for now and help them. Talent is precious should never be victim of terrorism.

While holding horses actually led me on to read the rest, the last bit of dual citizenship for ‘talented’ pakistanis forces me to blog! An ‘Atlas Shrugged’ kinda approach [I stopped reading Ayn Rand after it!]

The problem is hugely complex and a nation of people is of all the people – not of ‘talented’ individuals and certainly not by providing them with a safe refuge elsewhere. It is up to talented and widely recognized faces of civil society to lead/support a civil movement, to provide a basis for a nation to rebound – a nation which has enough ability to have their own nuclear device [dunno if it's a boon or curse to either country, albeit giving them a voice which will be heard], a nation which produces an Imran or Wasim or an Inzamam, a nation which gives the Indian Music industry with an exciting talent every few months, a nation comprised of a multitude of ethnicities allowing an example of perhaps the only multi ethnic islamic country.

In these times of distress, I sincerely hope Pakistan throws up a leader [or leaders, better still], who can talk and bring about peace. This leader/leadership has to come for talented individuals, with successes to qualify them.

Posted by Shekhar | Report as abusive

INdia or Bangladesh or Nepal or Srilanks should give a temporary home to Pakistan team till metters get better there. Cricket shouldn’t die in Pakistan. Pakistan has produced great cricketeers like Imran Khan, Mian Dad and so many others.

Posted by An Indian | Report as abusive

Pakistan needs to get their military to get out and go after these terrorist or this will keep going on forever.

While it is possible that Pakistani militants or political opponents of the PPP carried out this shocking and tragic attack, external elements from India or Sri Lanks can not be ruled out. In fact, the investigators should not rule out anything immediately and pursue all leads until they have good preliminary results.

There has been a lot of discussion in India by former RAW officials to launch covert actions inside Pakistan after Mumbai. And, lately, the Tamil rebels have also been under a lot pressure in Sri Lanks by recent successes of the Lankan military. There are multiple external players with strong motivation to launch such an attack.

Same story – two versions:
Salman Taseer, the governor of Punjab Province, initially said the same people who carried out the attack on Mumbai were responsible for the latest in Lahore, but was more circumspect addressing a news conference late on Tuesday.

“We are not blaming anybody or holding anybody responsible like India did,” Taseer said.

AND

“It’s all too obvious that it is the handiwork of the Indian intelligence,” retired general Hamid Gul said.

Will they ever start looking in their own backyards before pointing fingers at others?

Posted by Pankaj | Report as abusive

Pakistan should not be allowed to take part in any Modern world games.

First of all I would like to thank the support of the Srilankan team to come forward and play in Pakistan and secondly, I appologize for how things turned out to be.

Hope the Srilankan team recovers from the trauma asap and is ready for the next game.

Posted by Muhammad Anas | Report as abusive

Pakistan govt should work on development of their nation and people rather than supporting terrorism

What Pakistan is today,should be answered,keeping in mind the evolution of its formation. It came in to existence on the basis of hatred and religion.The political leaders as well as the top brass of the armed forces dillydallied with imperialist forces to meet their corrupt motives.On the other hand the imperialist used them to check the emergence of the progressive forces in the region.Taliban and Al-quida are the genesis of CIA to check the advancement of then soviet union. Now it acts like a frankincense monster and the US administration is running pillar to post to quell the striking power of these elements. India has a great roll to play in this volatile situation. It should take cautious step but firm step on terrorism. At the same it shouldn’t play to the tune of US.

Posted by jayaram | Report as abusive

I think it is carried out by the local anti-state groups witht he help of RAW; the indian intelligence for the sake that Pakistan and Srilank are extensively collaborating against LTTE and this is a gift to Pakistan for that collaboration. And also a tit for tat for the Mumbai attacks whcih India blames on Pakistan

Posted by AK | Report as abusive

With this attack on Sri Lanka cricket team ,Pakistan’s identity as a terror state in the world has now established . Though there was attempt to drag India in this attack , but the international community knows that this time Pakistan can not make any excuses, for sheilding the terrorists , these are the same terrorists who are nurtured by Pakistan to spread jehad world over. This attack clearly proves that Pakistan has been virtually taken over by terrorists and jehadis. The international community should take over the control of nuclear weapons to prevent any catastrophe.

Posted by anju2008 | Report as abusive

Putting first things first, most of the people do not have any idea what they are talking about.They have to know the history started at 1979 and also the Indians ploy during that period(1979-1992). Pakistan is under great deal of pressure right after 9/11. And being an ally in the so called WAR AGAINST TERROR Pakistan has suffered the most, because of being targeted by Al-Qa’ida, Taliban and now the INDIANS(Over the Mumbai Attack).
It isn’t easy to fight several enemies which are not even visible. And now been the most soft target, it isn’t time to criticise that what Pakistan has done. As a matter of fact Pakistan has done alot, but it never been acknowledged. Why………this is the time where WHOZ MORE LOUD matters..
come up and live with reality……not the fairy tales told.

Posted by Shoaib | Report as abusive

AK wrote:
I think it is carried out by the local anti-state groups witht he help of RAW; the indian intelligence

AK, please stop thinking because with these thoughts you are wasting your gray cells. What thoughts will you have next:
CIA, MI5, MI6 or Mossad?

Please contribute something which is backed up by proof and not the first thought you have.

What I cannot understand about Pakistan and its people is that:
Benazir Bhutto is assassinated.
The Marriott Hotel was bombed.
The Taliban have control of Swat after murdering and beheading people.
Chinese (all-weather friends) & other foreigners engineers are held ransom or killed.

However, in Pakistan over the last decade, Pakistanis have protested against:
The cartoons in Denmark.
The riots in Kashmir.
The raids in Gaza.
Even against the knighthood of Salman Rushdie.

I have not heard or seen any protests against the terrorists within its own country. I get the sense that Pakistani people perfer to bury their heads in the sand and hope that all the troubles will go away.

The following (from BBC) extract is a quote from a Pakistani woman after the attack on the Sri Lankan team:

“The world was already critical of Pakistan. There’s no question in my mind that no-one will come here anymore. There’ll be no tourists, investors or sportsmen. I was worried before, I am even more worried now. I am an independent woman: I wear what I want and I go where I want. But with such extremist elements in our society, I fear our future is not a good one.”

Posted by bulletfish | Report as abusive

@Shoib
“Pakistan is under great deal of pressure right after 9/11. And being an ally in the so called WAR AGAINST TERROR Pakistan has suffered the most,”

If pakistan is an ally on WAR AGAINST TERROR, and getting billions of American money, why it is under “great deal of pressure” and why it has suffered the most ?

Whatever pressure is on you is because of yourself, Pak army was supporting Taliban and terrorist in Afghanistan and Pakistan, while your leaders were eyeing dollars.

Did India on any other country tell you to go or not to go in War against terror ?

Ek ticket mein Do maze nahi milte, but you tried to enjoy two shows in one ticket and you ended up having neither of them.

Posted by punjabiyaar | Report as abusive

For heavens sake, what is this India Pakistan thing going to do. All time the same shit!! Grow up people!! These attacks can be carried out by anyone who is brainless. People who are un educated. BLAME THE PAKISTANI GOVERNMENT. If they spend less money on their army and more on education then people wont be so stupid when unemployeed to grab arms and attack tourists. People who watched this thng happening in the streets of Lahore, I would like to tell you this that please BE A SHAMED of yourself. Stand behind your government, save innocent people like the sports team of Sri Lanka and stand agains those hairy taliban freaks. Pakistan is doomed if you guys dont unite against the bloody so called wanna be extra muslims. Ruining the name of Islam and the people who practice the normal way of Islam. After bad times there is always good time. If today u dont have a job 2moro u might, but at least get urself educated OUT SIDE THE MADRASSAS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Those freaks wont teach u nothing that can be used to work in the 2days world.

Posted by Danial | Report as abusive