Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Cricket & terrorism

The attacks on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore cannot be condemned too forcefully.  Very plausibly it is Islamic terrorists who have killed 8 innocents (civilians and police officers) whose committed no crime at all.  A number of prominent cricketers were injured.  What a tragedy - cricket is much more than a game - it is a way to promote international understanding.

I am trying to figure out the motive for this terrible attack. Imran Khan last year criticised Australian cricketers for not playing in Pakistan since 1998. He argued that cricketers would never be attacked because cricketers were so uniformly popular throughout Pakistan.  A reasonable sounding hypothesis that turns out to be tragically wrong.

Speaking to Pakistani students this morning I was reminded of the fact that there is a war being waged inside Pakistan by terrorists and that thousands of innocents are being killed each year.  Many of these killings are carried out to instill terror among civilian populations but they do not get much publicity. It might be that the present attack is an attempt to instill widespread terror through an attack the terrorists know will be widely publicised.  In short, an attempt to effectively terrify local Pakistanis by attempting to kill foreign cricketers.

It is the only rationale I can come up with for this senseless attack which otherwise seems not only to be an utterly immoral action but something that will harm the objectives of the terrorists themselves.

Update: Pakistan's Daily Times assumes that Al Qaeda was the aggressor and makes sensible points:
International cricket is no longer possible in Pakistan; therefore we should stop accusing foreign teams of discriminating against Pakistan vis-à-vis India. The question here is of the survival of Pakistan, not of cricket. The country is split down the middle, its two mainstream parties getting ready to face each other in the streets amid rising violence. The politicians and other civil society organisations protesting against the government have so far enjoyed the “exemption” from terrorism allowed by Al Qaeda. Unfortunately, it seems they are not going to give up confrontation to unite against Al Qaeda.


Al Qaeda is hardly interested in the restoration of the deposed judges or the correct observance of democratic rules in Pakistan. It wants Pakistan as its own state, armed with nuclear weapons and an economy that can sustain global terrorism. It would be a pity if Pakistan responds, like an ex-ISI boss who has already done so, by accusing India’s RAW or Israel’s Mossad for this attack, as some commentators did in reference to the Marriott blast when an Indo-Pak media war was sparked by the Mumbai attacks. (my bold)

9 comments:

Lesley de Voil said...

I hate to detract in any way from the seriousness of this post, but your second-last sentence does not need an apostrophe in the word 'Pakistanis.'
FWIW, it's my opinion that the people who directed this attack are trying to destabilise the Pakistani government - by means of destabilising the population, as you indicate.

observa said...

Ah yes Lesley as the Great Khan himself so wisely pointed out the difference between yer common or garden variety terrorists and yer cricket lover types-

“These are not the normal terrorists who in desperation and anger are reacting against Pakistan forces [in the tribal areas].

“This was not a normal terrorist attack. This was to destablise the Pakistan economy and the country.”

observa said...

Or was he really referring to yer economic types? Please expound further to we lesser beings oh Great Khan?

hc said...

You both might be right - it may just be a 'throwing a spanner in the works' attack rather thsan an attempt to install fear.

It is an attempt to visibly kill innocents. A new low for these scum.

Anonymous said...

"A new low for these scum."

Unfortunately, not really new. Egyptian Islamic Jihad launched a number of deliberately visible attacks on foreign tourists in the 90's (many with eerily similar MO's to the attack in Pakistan).

A large part of the rationale in choosing that target seems to have been to demonstrate their power (or at least show the impotence of the state security forces) without the cost in goodwill that an attack on an obviously local target would generate.

At the same time, the attacks were intended to disrupt and isolate the Egyptian economy by decimating a major source of foreign income.

Ayman al-Zawahiri was the last leader of Islamic Jihad and is now second in command at al Qaeda so maybe it's a case of same old dog, same old tricks.

badmofo

Yobbo said...

I agree with Lesley, these attacks are meant to destabilise the government so AQ can fill the power vaccuum.

Spiros said...

It's not AQ but the Pakistani Taliban who are trying to take over the country, but this is a minor quibble.

Pakistan is a country where the government is corrupt and useless; a large part of the military and security forces are in league with Islamist terrorists; large parts of it are ruled by mediaeval religious fanatics; and even the educated classes are infected by (a mostly) irrational hatred for India.

And it has nukes.

Sydney said...

It's a big matter and every body has its own idea about that but Pakistan is a country where the government is corrupt and useless; a large part of the military and security forces are in league with Islamist terrorists; large parts of it are ruled by mediaeval religious fanatics; and even the educated classes are infected by (a mostly) irrational hatred for India. Great post i look forward to reading more!
Sydney
Drug Intervention

Cricket Rules said...

I think that people are still in love with this game because Cricket is a wonderful game in itself!