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Worst Tragedy in Cricket History
[Analysis] Sri Lankan cricket team under attack in Pakistan
Fiza Fatima Asar (FizaPK)     Print Article 
Published 2009-03-04 10:53 (KST)   
This article is only lightly edited.  <Editor's Note>
Earlier in the morning today, the visiting Sri Lankan team came under an ambush attack in Lahore, Pakistan. The team was touring Pakistan to play a test-match series when the attack took place. During the ambush the bus carrying the Sri Lankan cricket team was attacked only 150 metres before the Qaddafi cricket stadium. The tragic event took place in a busy, commercial area of the city called the Liberty Market. The ambushers launched grenades and opened an intense burst of gun shots at the bus which the driver escaped narrowly. Five Pakistani officials and one civilian were killed, while five Sri Lankan contingent members were injured superficially.

Earlier last year, the Australian, South African and English cricket teams refused to visit Pakistan due to security risks. India which initially intended to visit, changed its plans following the Mumbai hotel attacks in November 2008. Sri Lanka was the only team which defied security threats and decided to visit Pakistan. Both the cricket teams were extremely excited about the tournament.

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The attacks are a grave image shattering moment for the Pakistani civilian government which is trying to stabilize its reputation in the country. Haroon Logat, ICC representative pointed out that the ICC security advisors were surprisingly more confident during Musharraf셲 regime regarding the safety measures as opposed to the civilian government now. Ex-Pakistani cricket captain and current Pakistani politician Imran Khan while speaking to BBC earlier today said that 쐔his was the worst tragedy in sports history. This is the worst failures of security measures in Pakistan.

The Sri Lankan team chief executive is flying to Pakistan to collect his contingent and bring them back home as soon as possible. Pakistani team is being advised to play on neutral location in the near future. Although an ICC rep at the press conference held at Lords today hoped that the situation in Pakistan will not remain so vulnerable 쐄orever and ever it is obvious that the international teams will be reluctant to visit the country in the near future.

Speaking in front of a British audience, the ICC representative drew the parallel with Ireland and Northern Ireland. He said that just as the conditions were unsafe there but changed for the better, it cannot be assumed that the conditions in Pakistan will last there forever. It can only be hoped that this security threat to the cricketers is temporary and that the cricket-loving nation will get to see its favorite sport in its stadiums again.

It is still unclear as to who may be behind the attacks. Although, the Sri Lankan government has ruled out the involvement of Tamil Tigers, the possibility cannot be ruled out. Many fingers are also automatically pointing at the Taliban or extremist militant elements in the north of the country. However, it is clear that whosoever is behind the attacks has not attacked the cricketers solely. The attack is aimed at the Pakistani reputation and image. An analyst over the BBC earlier today reminded listeners that the Pakistani people love their sports and are especially passionate about their cricket. They are just as disturbed and hurt by the events as any one else. The last thing they want is cricket stopping in their country.

The ICC made it clear that it will have to make its security assessment measures tighter and will have to review the extent to which Pakistan will be involved in the upcoming world cup. The next cricket world cup is scheduled to be held in the South Asian sub-continent in 2011. Four countries are meant to be hosting the tournament, of which Pakistan is one. It cannot be said that Pakistan will be completely chucked out of the hosts list.

It is unfortunate that politics and cricket have had to be bundled up. Traditionally it was assumed that there was an element of respect for the cricket teams. That conception will have to be revisited from this day onward. The face of cricket has changed completely from this day onwards. It is unfortunate that Pakistan has to bear the brunt of it and obvious that the attackers have taken terrorism and security risks to an all new level. The ambushers cannot be said to be enemies of cricket or even the government alone -- they are those who do not want to see Pakistan as a country survive.
©2009 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Fiza Fatima Asar

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