March 07, 2009
The attack on the bus carrying the Sri Lankan cricket team is brutal and reprehensible. It is just the latest. That Pakistan has become a sanctuary and safe haven for all kinds of sundry terrorist groups has become quite clear by now to all sensible people. What is of utmost priority at this moment is to protect not just cricket, but entire South Asia, including Pakistan.
Sadly, the central discourse after the attack was on whether Pakistan is safe for cricket in future. There were 'concerns' over the future of the World Cup to be held in 2011.
The issue is not just about cricket, it is a pure and simple case of terrorism; the degeneration of Pakistan into a rogue State. However much the 'candle-lightwalahs' may resent it, Pakistan must be shunned completely until it cleanses its entire system and purges the last terrorist from its soil.
Ignorant politicians declared that the last time sportsmen were attacked was during the Munich Olympics in 1972. They forget that only a few years ago there was a suicide bomb attack outside the hotel in Islamabad [Images] in which the New Zealand cricketers were staying. Although the cricketers escaped unhurt, scores died in that attack. In fact it was in that climate of terror that the tour of the Indian cricket team to Pakistan had to be deferred by several months by the then National Democratic Alliance government.
While the details about the perpetrators of this attack will only be known after the investigations, one thing is clear: the terrorists wanted to send a message out to the world that they are in control in Pakistan. The nexus between the Pakistan-based terrorist groups like the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in Sri Lanka dates back to early 1990s, when they were exchanging weapons for narcotics.
The Sri Lanka government's determined efforts to crush the LTTE can be a sufficient reason for the attack on the Sri Lankan team as these outfits thrive on each other's support, especially since the LTTE was a major source of funding through the narco-trail for the jihadi groups.
In fact with a non-functional government at the helm in Pakistan, in order for the truth behind this attack to come out, the Sri Lankan government must demand direct participation in the probe.
The LTTE had close links with many South Asian terror groups. Those Indian politicians who go all out to please pro-LTTE groups in India must not forget that it was the same LTTE which was equipping Indian terror outfits like the Maoists and the United Liberation Front of Asom.
India had responded appropriately by calling for dismantling the terror infrastructure in Pakistan. It needs to be proactive in isolating and pressuring Pakistan because the biggest victim of a 'rogue Pakistan' will be India.
The Western powers are always driven by their own self-interest rather than any serious concern for curbing terror. We hear theories emanating from Western 'experts' that the Taliban [Images]isation of Pakistan is a local phenomenon and should be left to the local forces to tackle. In fact the Swat agreement was sought to be justified with the same argument. In other words, what the West wants is a gentleman's agreement with the Taliban -- 'You take South Asia; but don't come to Europe and America'.
It is time all the countries in the South Asian region -- especially democracies like India and Sri Lanka -- came together to exert pressure on Pakistan to end terrorism.