Posted by: nestaquin | March 3, 2009

Sri Lanka in Pakistan: A Plea for Action

a-candle-for-peaceTonight, alongside the Sri Lankan and wider Buddhist community of Tasmania, I’ll be attending a hastily arranged prayer meeting for peace. It will do very little for the Sri Lankan cricketers but the hope is it will appease our own anger and confusion after hearing the wretched news from Lahore.

To think that members of the Pakistani community could attack their honoured guests in such a coordinated and ruthless fashion is beyond reasonable comprehension. Sangakarra, Jayawardene et al are loving men of family, grace and peace and if it wasn’t for the brave security forces laying down their own lives the entire Sri Lankan team would now be in a morgue.

I am, as I said, angry and confused so forgive me if I misunderstand or simplify the situation but I cannot rid my mind of the assumption that Pakistan as a nation and as a community are not doing nearly enough to rid themselves of people who resort to cowardly acts of violence for their own meaningless political reasons. They are, are they not, your brothers, fathers, uncles, nephews, friends and neighbours? How could these people continue to operate, gain arms, gather intelligence and carry out their attacks year in and year out without others knowing?

I am truly appalled at the needless suffering that continues to radiate within and beyond Pakistan’s borders. It is up to the Pakistani people to halt this insanity for ultimately it is they who are responsible and in turn suffer most. Why do they not confront it? Why is their government impotent? Why don’t the masses protest and demand action? How many need to die before serious action is taken?

Pakistani participation in international cricket is now beyond redemption, home and away, in the short to medium term. Wherever they play be it Abu Dubai, Canada, Sydney, London or Auckland the stench and paranoia of this crass statement will follow.

Until the Pakistani people make a serious effort to dig out and destroy the idealistic roots that spread terror in their country they can expect sanctions and exile from the majority of the cricketing world. I sincerely wish it never came to this impasse but for the cricketing world to appease murder and not make a stand would be far worse than doing nothing at all.

Basically, if Pakistan want to be part of the wider cricket community they need to get their own house in order. Life is precious and irreplaceable and no sane administration would dare put the lives of their cricketers and their families in danger by engaging in a match with Pakistan at the present time.

Stay Human



  1. You said it all, but I hope that, in time, Pakistan cricket is not beyond redemption. Cricket is one thing we all have in common, and this comes from outside of it.

  2. My thoughts are with the brave men who lost their lives fulfilling their duty to protect cricketers playing the Greatest of Games.

    Nesta – I understand your anger and I agree that Pakistan’s people could do more, but from the perspective of someone who has lived through terrorist attacks all his life, it is not possible for the people of Pakistan to rid themselves of people who are prepared to commit such atrocities. Weapons, alas, are easy to access and from then on, only the twisted logic and will of a few misguided men and women is needed.

    Intelligence can do much to uncover such plots, but ultimately our best defence, our only defence, is to inculcate an understanding of the value of human life among every member of the teeming billions of humanity. That can only be done through leadership, empathy, education and yes, staying human.

    • Toots, sadly something is terribly awry at the root of modern Pakistani society. Obviously occasional acts of seemingly random violence are impossible to prevent but when you consider that there is a terrorist attack of varying degree every other day in Pakistan a picture forms of a nation with the frightening problem of endemic murder.

      In the last month alone there have been terrorist attacks in Diera Ismail Khan, Swat, Bannu, Quetta, Mingora, Mingu, Waziristan, Miranshah, Darra Adamkhel, Baran Pul, Peshawar, Khar, Mohmand and Lahore and in several of these places there have been multiple attacks.

      Today’s horrors excepted all the above are when explosive devices were used and if I was to collate and list premeditated attacks with firearms too, the list would be more than twice as long.

      Either there is an urban guerrilla insurrection taking place or anarchy is commonplace in regions of Pakistan. The Pakistani people need to unite and rid themselves of these sinister elements within their society by whatever means necessary or continue to die in ever increasing numbers.

      It’s terribly sad and I’ve no idea how a nation’s authorities could be so negligent to allow it to descend into such chaos but until these people are dealt with asking everyone to be nice to each other is not going to alleviate the suffering or pave a path for Pakistan to grow and prosper in the future.

      • Nesta – Alas, I bow to your points.

      • “sadly something is terribly awry at the root of modern Pakistani society.”

        its amazing how sitting form afar you can see us better than we see ourselves.

        • Khatmal: You sound very surprised that someone could be capable of that vision. Let me give you an example of why that is eminently sensible. I’m sitting in my house, busy watching the television, absorbed in the tawdry drama on display. I hear a shouting on the street and rush out to see what the matter is. Lo and behold, my neighbors are gathered around, pointing at my roof, which is on fire.

          Distance can bring perspective, and also reveal things not visible from the inside.

          • In case anyone interprets Khatmal’s comment as facetious I have taken the liberty of his missive of copy+paste to relate his own words immediately after the attack on the Sri Lankan cricketers.

            i think each person who thinks of themselves as pakistanis should

            accept the blame for these attacks
            for the mumbai attacks
            for the attempted genocide in east pakistan
            for the death of BB
            for all the dead FC soldiers
            for all the blown up schools
            for all the dead in Lal Masjid
            for all those killed in the Marriot, Wah, FIA, GOR, Karsaz
            for all those killed in the nameless tribal ares we didn’t know beyond an ancronym until two years ago
            for all those killed in 9/11
            for all those poets and artists who died silently
            for all the jews, hindus, westerners, foreignors, punjabis, mohajirs, pathans, balochis we love to blame
            for all the brainwashed population
            for all the women raped for honour
            for all the wastefulness of 10000 rupee meals in a starving nation
            for running generators and pressure pumps
            for breaking red lights
            for the molestation of our women
            for the dead ahmedis, christians and hindus we claim were blasphmising
            for all the moulvis and pirs and sahibs and mem sahibas
            for lying to the people we love
            for abusing religion, and abusing science, and abusing truth
            for our deep insecurities

            for forgetting how to love

            they might have killed cricket.

            will we never wake up?

  3. Yeah sad, angry, confused and so very sad. Just fucking horrible.

  4. As this is not a political blog, I am refraining from saying anything about Pakistan, its ‘terror-as-a-state-policy’ doctrine, and the abysmal failure of the civic institutions.

    I have been among the many who believed Imran Khan, Wasim Akram, and other Pakistani cricket greats who told us that ‘no terrorists will harm a cricketer in Pakistan’.And I admired the SL team for traveling there, under the current situation.

    We all have been proved wrong.And now I realise with a heavy heart, that it should not have been enough ‘that terrorists won’t attack cricketers’.It is equally inhuman when they attack common people as well.The terror problem needs to be addressed first before we can envisage any sporting contests in Pakistan.

    If the world powers in general, and Pakistan in particular do not solve this mess, the day is not far off when talented cricketers from that country emigrate to other Cricket playing nations.Already, dozens of Pakistan’s best artistes practically live in India and work in the Indian entertainment industry.

    Yes, India is not free from these jihadi attacks as well.And this should serve as a warning to the organisers of the IPL that the world’s threshold of patience w.r.t. being resilient towards terrorists is gone.If there is no political will to destroy terrorism, the same fate may befall India too in future.

    Shit ! yesterday we were all so happy about test cricket looking healthy.Today, we are worried about Cricket in the sub-continent.I am so depressed and worried for the fans of the great game in the sub-continent, that I am unable to think properly.

    • Thanks for commenting Kumar. Indeed, I hope that like the USA after 9/11 and Australia after the Bali bombings that this despicable incident will shake Pakistan from its lethargy and in doing that their legislators find a united political will with the backing of the populace to challenge the cult of mass murderer that has infected their country.

      I dread to imagine the Indian government’s response if they had toured and the murderers were successful in their aims. I think that a line has been crossed now and that the IPL is very much in danger. I pray that is not the case but on a day like today dark thoughts are difficult to contain.

      • Perhaps it is just dark thoughts but surely the intent cannot be doubted now. Is it not just whether ‘they’ can execute or not?

  5. now the shock is sinking in the thoughts which are coming to mind that why sl team wasn’t provided bullet proof bus…why even after prior information that sl team will be attacked the area was not sanitised…how easily the terrorist disappeared after the attack into the bylanes…

    there are more questions than answers…

    • if you need a bullet proof bus, no tour should go ahead.

    • And, even in London with security cameras everywhere, terrorists can escape into the city.

      • i hope you are serious toot when you said this…

        coz there is obvious difference in attacking laymen on streets or tube than attacking a convoy provided ‘presidential level’ security…

        • I am straight point. There is a difference, but cities cannot be sealed or closed down for a team bus going to a stadium. I am certain that, had such a horror occurred near The Oval, gunmen would have been able to disappear amidst the chaos.

          • you think it is possible for 8-10 people to roam around the oval in london with AK-47 , RPG and grenades when a high security cavalcade is passing by?

            terrorist attacks take place in india,sl ,england as well but no where the scale of them happening in pak.

            • Nik – If the murderers are willing to risk their own lives, I do think it possible for such men to use weapons around The Oval, but my response was more directed to whether they would be able to get away. Cities have always offered anonymity and hiding places and, within a five minute walk in the ensuing chaos, there would be thousands of hiding places and roads / allyways etc, and that’s before we take account of safe houses.

              My point is that cities are more like each other than the superficial impressions convey. Motorcycling home in the aftermath of the 7 July 2005 attacks in London, I saw thousands of people walking since public transport had stopped. Anyone of them could have had a concealed weapon to continue the terror – how would we have known? On the day of the tragic shooting at Stockwell station (22 July 2005), ten minutes walk away from the station life carried on entirely normally, except for the traffic being even worse and one or two more helicopters than usual buzzing overhead.

              • i dont think that kind of ammunition is freely available in uk for use in attacks.

                coming to your point abt anonymity provided by cities. there is a difference between attacks on trains ( such as 7/7) , markets and other crowded places and this attack.

                the former are either suicide attacks or the attackers have left the scene before the blasts.
                even in the hypothetical situation you have given the attacker might have caused more damage but i dont think he would have gotten away.

                in this attack the terrorists ambushed the high security cavalcade , engaged them in direct combat for 15 minutes and made a clean getaway (some did it on foot).

                this wont happen in a normal city.

  6. The question in my mind concerns how the Pakistani populace will react. Everyone was assured time and time again that cricketers were sacrosanct because if terrorists ever attacked cricketers then they would lose the support of their sympathisers.

    Putting aside the obvious and awful truth inherent in this argument – that there is a proportion of Pakistanis that currently support indiscriminate murder of civilians – we will soon find out just how much the people of Pakistan really care about life, liberty, justice and cricket.

  7. Nesta – Pakistan is the sixth most populace country. If 99.5% of Pakistan’s people are as abhorred by this as you and me, that’s still about 800,000 people who might equivocate.

    The thirty year conflict in Northern Ireland showed that people perfectly reasonable in all aspects of their lives, would still offer, at best ambivalence and at worst assistance, to men of violence.

    Further outrages in Pakistan will tell us nothing about what the vast majority of its people think about life, liberty, justice and cricket, but it will tell us a lot about the handful of perpetrators.

  8. Toots it is not the actions of the terrorists that is in question but those of the ordinary population.

    If dedicated, the resources of 99% of any population should be able to crush the recalcitrant 1% no matter how well motivated or armed.

    In densely populated Indonesia the entire island of Bali took to the streets and demanded action from their representatives immediately after the mourning. They demonstrated clearly that they were not going to be bullied into submission. They triumphed.

    It’s a far bigger job but Pakistan need to show the rest of the global community that they are serious about combatting terrorism. Many believe that their government actually sponsors and supports it.

    As I said, time will tell and the road they take will have a direct influence on their cricketing fate that much is certain.

  9. Pakistani civil society (read non Jihadis) has been in denial for years. The majority in that country does not support fundamentalist Jihadis. The same majority however believes that Jihadis can be safely used as an instrument of foreign policy with no risk to themselves. They cannot bring themselves to believe that Jihadis can ever bring any real harm to the Pakistani state or its people. This state of denial prompts otherwise sane people like Imran Khan Niazi to proclaim that terrorists will never attack Cricketers for fear of losing popular support. The truth is that Jihadis do not care about popular support because they understand the power of terror in cowing populations. After the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai, much of Pakistani society instead of joining in loudly rejecting the perpetrators and their ideology instead blamed India for always pointing fingers at Pakistan. Today after the attack on the Sri Lankan team, no less than a PPP minister blamed India for orchestrating this attack in an effort to “discredit” Pakistan. Cricket died in Pakistan today, and the society itself is much closer to the brink than anyone is willing to admit. I doubt if Pakistan as we know it will survive till the end of 2009 unless a clear consensus emerges about the role of religion in society. I sincerely hope that somwhere in the US Centcom HQ, there is a plan to secure Pakistani nukes when the Taliban roll into Islamabad.

  10. While it would be unfair to Younis Khan and company to curtail them from playing anywhere until Pakistan sorts itself out, it is pertinent to remember that Javed Miandad’s son is married to the daughter (or maybe vice-versa) of Dawood Ibrahim, the man most wanted in India for more than 15 years now. So Nesta’s point about this stigma following the Pak team anywhere it plays is perfectly valid. If PCB wants to make a bold statement against terror, there’s an easy starting point in its own organization.

  11. Guys most of this discussion is not based on facts.

    It’s true there are Jihadi/ mercenary elements in Pakistan but on one hand when such groups attack Mumbai we accuse them of being controlled by ISI.

    Think for a second if they are controlled by ISI why would they attack the Sri Lankans in Pakistan? What would be the objective.

    Secondly I am sick and tired of hearing this that Pakistanis are not doing enough.
    Did we invited Russia to Afghanistan?
    Did we asked the US to deceive its cold War Mujahideens/allies and start a civil war in Afghanistan.

    Pakistan was made the base camp for the proxy war in Afghanistan and as soon as the cold war was won the world turned it’s back on Afghanistan and Pakistan and all those mercenaries were made Pakistan’s problem,those mercenaries are not robots and there is no switch which we know of that can turn them off overnight.

    Pakistan has been made the base camp for War on terror, one super Power’s adventure ended only in the resumption of an other power’s quest for its objectives new alliances were formed old allies became foes and old foe’s became allies.

    Is it the problem of Pakistani society that the civilized world deceived us for their objectives.

    People who accuse Pakistani’s have no Idea of the sacrifices Pakistan has given in winning the cold war and now in the fight against the war on terror. Weapons, drugs, violence, crimes, suicide bombings what else the world expects from us.

    Now coming to Indo Pak issue, if a terrorist attack takes place in India its done by ISI if it is done in Pakistan again it is done by ISI, does it makes sense?

    Every terror attack has an objective behind it.
    There are two many powers in the region each of them have their own goals and they are using all the means to get to their objectives including violence, that is the bitter truth you may like it or not but it always take two to tango.

    Now we can ask ourselves the chicken came first or the egg, Marriott happened first or Mumbai.

    I don’t call these mercenaries Jihadis, they have always sold themselves to the highest bidder their is no ideology involved, not anymore, just the temptation of 20000/month salary in remote and desolate areas finds them enough recruits, but who is financing them?

    Who is providing them with the communication devices which even Pak army doesn’t have, who is giving them radio stations so powerful that we can’t block them and not to mention guns and light weapons better than the frontier core?

    We are accused of not fighting them but whenever they are chased and cornered they find sanctuaries in Afghanistan, Why they are not captured or killed over there?

    Pakistani’s have learned the important lesson these mercenaries are for sale, lets make a deal and outbid the competitors and create peace in our country, but if peace was made in Swat fresh trouble was created in Lahore, destabilization of Pakistan is the objective, by pushing the Mercenaries inside Pakistan the goal is to declare it’s nuclear weapons unsafe.

    There is no separatist movement going on in Pakistan which would make us believe that Pakistani’s are blowing there own cities and also exporting the terror.

    Yes there is some resentment in Balochistan but those guys are not doing all this, they are not capable of doing all this, again the Baloch dissidents are finding training and sanctuaries in Afghanistan. Mir Balach was ambushed and killed in Afghanistan while moving with his convoy, what was he doing there?

    We can’t change our geographical location, we will have to live with this problem.

    Now that the terrorists have seen the magnitude of the affect of this attack I am absolutely certain they will strike in other countries too.

    Will we stop playing cricket?

    If IPL can continue after the Rajasthan blasts, the English team can revisit India soon after the Mumbai attacks then same can be done with Pakistan also, life goes on, we should accept the fact we live in a dangerous world.

    Now coming to Imran’s statement.
    Sri Lanka has no role in Afghanistan, I can understand the Aussies, the English and the Indians refusing to tour Pakistan since they fear attack from Taliban or Al-Qaeeda in retaliation of their troops presence in Afghanistan, but why the peace loving Sri Lankans. If only past behavior can predict behavior then Taliban’s had no interest in the SriLankans.

  12. This is terrible news. All I can offer is my sympathy to everyone affected and their families. Not that they will read this post, but it seems the appropriate thing to do. It could have been so much worse.

  13. Nestaquin,

    wrt the Bali bombings, the bombings impacted the tourism industry and that, in turn,had a direct, and substantial, impact on people’s livelihoods.

    Which kind of explains why the people there demanded action.

    With Lahore, how does it really affect the person on the street? Pakistan not playing cricket at home wont even resonate – Pakistan has not been playing at home for some time now.

    A boycott of Pakistani cricket is unacceptable.

    So, what gives?


  14. The reason the peaceful people of Bali protested long and loud is because they abhorred the violence taking place in their neighbourhoods. To view it as simply economic is overly simplistic.

    Younis Khan has pleaded for his people to unite and take action against the violence. That seems a reasonable approach. If millions of people took to the streets and demanded action every day then change would eventuate. To just shrug shoulders and accept that gangs of thugs roaming the streets armed to the teeth is a fact of life is no way to prosper or solve a very serious problem. People can make their voice heard if they choose and they should.

    Pakistan cricket will be a casualty of this event until the people of Pakistan fix the mess they find themselves in. They’ll receive plenty of support in their struggle but ultimately they must provide the impetus.

    The concern now is that wherever the Pakistan cricket team travel the potential threat of violence will follow.

    That is what is unacceptable, for cricket is at its core a game played between friends.

    It is not the Pakistani cricketers fault and I’m sure the cricketing community will find a way to keep the players in Pakistan within the fold but for the time being at least any cricket match involving Pakistan will be subject to cancellation at a moment’s notice.

    It has been that way between India and Pakistan for decades and now unfortunately other boards will also be taking the same cautious approach.

  15. In different days, reactions were different, as this piece shows – We may find some of that distastefully disrespectful to the victims, but it showed that life must go on, albeit differently.

    I have tickets for England vs Pakistan at The Oval in the World T20. Security will be tight, but I shall be going with my elder boy and we shall enjoy the cricket and greet as many Pakistan supporters as possible. I have no doubt at all that Younis Khan and his men will be welcomed by a capacity crowd, for we know that they live with the threat day in day out and must be supported in earning their living and perpetuating the game we love.

  16. This is useful perspective –

    • Nice map Toots but I’m not sure if the perspective is actually of any use.

      There is a very big difference between Lord Harris being hit with a stick by some drunk colonials and highly trained armed gunmen attempting to murder an entire international team.

      To be fair, it does quite clearly show how political and volatile the sport is in some parts of the world and not so much in others.

      • It does show that cricket has faced difficult times before and got through them – I agree that the Lahore events are a quantum jump in the stakes from any of those mentioned.

  17. I’ve no concern whatsoever for the future of the game. It’s survived two World Wars and the dismantling of an empire. It is a far stronger than any one man, organisation or nation and like love it can endure any hardship.

    In time all will be well for cricket, but if reports that I have read tonight of Taliban preparing for an attack on Karachi are correct than the people of Pakistan may not be so fortunate.

  18. The attack on Sri Lankan players in the grounds of Pakistan is a shameful incident for Pakistan and an alarming one for the whole world. It is time some serious actions are taken by all the countries of the world to combat terrorism…

  19. Nesta, Homer: The problem in Pakistan is that there is *ambivalence* about these killers. That ambivalence is best expressed in Imran’s idiotic statement that cricket would not be targeted because they would lose the support of the people. This attitude sees the killers as the vanguard of a a pro-Palestinian, anti-invasion-of-Afghanistan, anti-invasion-of-Iraq, anti-exploitation of Pakistan movement. But as I said in my blog post on Cricinfo, this lie has been nailed by Hoodbhoy (I can email you the article if you want). You could wipe the USA and Israel off the map, and these guys will still not take themselves to have succeeded. The two agendas are orthogonal but Imran conflates them (and continues to do so in his latest pronouncements, confirming my opinion of him as a dimwit). This confusion seems to be quite prevalent in Pakistan. And so long as it prevails, plenty of people will not take the unambiguous stance that is required.

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