Help Pakistan in its hour of need
Mahinda Rajapakse, Ranasinghe Premadasa and Karuna
have been the intriguing conspiracy theories made about
the attack on the Sri Lankan cricketers in
by pundits of cricket, geopolitics, terrorism and
associated varied disciplines. Provocative and
challenging as these theories forwarded by these
individuals are - ranging from Chris Broad, the former
English cricketer and match umpire of the abandoned test
match to Udaya Gammanpila of the Jatika Hela Urumaya now
on JHU platforms canvassing for the 'manapaya' vote at
the Western Provincial Council elections, all theories
would be of no use unless they provide basic answers to
two vital issues: What were the objectives of this
attack and against whom was it directed?
matters little whether Broad was at the scene of the
crime sprawled on the floor of a bus to avoid bullets
flying around him or that Gammanpila was on political
platforms in Lanka where his theory could have been a
vote catcher at the Western Provincial Council
theories have to provide reasons for these senseless and
murderous attacks on this group of young Sri Lankan men
whose endeavour in life is perfectly harmless, enjoyable
and profitable as well - to clout a leather ball with a
willow for days on end.
Why the attack?
immediate fall out of the
attack was that it sent Pakistan which was reeling for
some time under extremist fundamentalist attacks and
political instability into a near comatose state.
after the attacks, we heard over international news
channels claims made by those who have not liked
Pakistan very much for long years saying: This incident
proves that Pakistani authorities have no control over
terrorism. It is now 'a failed state.'
corollary came the claim that the days of Pakistan in
international cricket were over - at least for the
Pakistani state was under grave threat the government of
President Asif Zardari was in a much worse plight.
Zardari's popularity in Pakistan had plunged to the
Extremist violence unleashed by al Qaeda, its allies the
Taliban - both in Pakistan and Afghanistan - and other
extremist groups had the new government hardly one year
old, reeling. Besides, Zardari had kicked into his own
main democratic rival, Nawaz Sharif - two times prime
minister - and his brother, the Chief Minister of the
Punjab Province were declared unfit to hold any public
office by the Pakistani Supreme Court which is said to
be strongly influenced by Zardari. Into this heady
concoction falls in the attempted assassination of the
Sri Lankan cricketers. What better evil could those
Pakistani baiters have hoped for?
Sri Lanka-Pakistan ties
second reason for the attack could be attributed to the
close ties that had developed between
and Pakistan since the early '80s. Pakistan has been Sri
Lanka's 'all weather friend' for over quarter of a
century. The reasons are not solely altruistic. Close
ties between the two countries have been mutually
advantageous in events of clashes of interests between
the giant neighbour, India.
coming to the rescue of Lanka while the rest of the
world seemed helpless are too well known to be repeated.
India had not liked the growing relations with
especially in relation to arms purchases nor would it
have liked Sri Lanka's support when Pakistan seemed not
only cornered in international affairs but also in the
field of sport - particularly cricket.
gesture of playing in Pakistan this time after the
refusal of India to do so prevented Pakistan's isolation
in international cricket. Thus the attack on Sri Lankan
cricketers could be interpreted as one aimed at
destroying this relationship with Pakistan and isolating
however to be said that India has made no objections to
Pakistan-Lankan cricketing ties. In fact in 1996 when
the Western cricketing nations refused to play in Sri
Lanka citing the threat of terrorism, India and Pakistan
made the grand gesture of sending the best of their
players to Lanka to play 'friendly' matches here.
after the terrorist attack on Mumbai Indo-Pak relations
that had earlier picked-up, hit rock bottom. The Indian
invective appeared so harsh on Pakistan that even in Sri
Lanka the suspicion is entertained in some quarters that
the attack in Lahore was directed at rupturing the good
relations between the two friendly countries, even
though there is no proof at all of an Indian hand.
JHU conspiracy thesis
second conspiracy theory has been voiced by those like
Udaya Gammanpila of the JHU, alleging the involvement of
the LTTE. The LTTE, now said to be on its last legs
cannot be ruled out for such vengeful and despicable
acts. The assassination of Rajiv Gandhi who had helped
the LTTE so much - even presenting Pirapaharan with a
bullet proof jacket and millions of rupees - was killed
because of the killing of LTTE cadres by IPKF forces.
may have been the 'last hurrah' attempted by the LTTE.
But all this is still speculation. We do hope that Udaya
Gammanpila would provide whatever evidence he has on
LTTE involvement. No doubt bashing the LTTE is a good
vote catching exercise these days.
Broad, the ICC match umpire who too had escaped the
terrorist bullets on reaching Manchester had at a press
conference expressed fears (ABC report March 5) that the
Lahore attack may have been aided by a conspiracy
involving Pakistan's security forces.
of the points he makes are that the bus carrying the Sri
Lankan cricketers and Pakistani cricketers were
scheduled to leave the hotel for the Gadaffi Stadium at
the same time but the Pakistan bus had left five minutes
later even though the two buses had left the hotel at
the same time on the two previous days. He wants to know
the causes for the delay in departure.
other hand Broad says that during the Karachi test
played previously the Sri Lanka bus went first and the
Pakistani bus later.
admits that he has no evidence of a conspiracy but that
'the events had left him perplexed.'
other accusation made by Broad is that those in the
second vehicle following Sri Lankan cricketers were
'sitting ducks' because after the shooting there were no
policemen visible at the scene. The Lahore Police Chief
Habib Ur. Rehman however has strongly contradicted Broad
on this point. It was precisely because of the valour
and bravery of the policemen that the Sri Lankan team
and umpires survived, he had said
Chairman of the Pakistani Cricket Board had asked: 'How
can Broad say that when six policemen died?'
Kicking into own goal
authorities should realise that in trying to condemn
Pakistan and making the country a non cricket-playing
arena, they are kicking into their own goal. Already the
Indian authorities have decided to postpone the IPL
cricket tournament till Indian elections are over
because of inadequate security.
Meanwhile questions are being raised whether the
terrorist environment in the sub-continent - Pakistan,
India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka - make it possible for
the 2011 World Cup to be played here.
English and Australian cricketers have so far played in
India despite their fears of a terrorist threat. Even
after the Mumbai attack English cricketers came back to
India 'to play under record levels of security.'
is still favoured by Australia, New Zealand and England
because the pot of gold is now in India. But if the
props of other South Asian nations - Pakistan, Sri Lanka
and Bangladesh are knocked out, would India go under
another cricketing Raj of the West?
Continental cricket playing nations instead of joining
the chorus of condemning Pakistan should help Pakistan
to recover and gain its rightful place in international
cricket - not declare it an international hellhole.
Pakistan deserves all the help it can get in its hour of
grief. Sri Lanka will no doubt move in this direction.
Other South Asian brothers too should join in - not
merely shout from rooftops at SAARC Summits about South