Tuesday, March 3, 2009

How Bad Are Things?

If you want some idea how bad things are in Pakistan, consider this quote from the New York Times:

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — A dozen gunmen attacked the Sri Lankan national cricket team and its police escort in a brazen commando-style operation in the city of Lahore on Tuesday, killing six police officers and wounding at least six cricketers before fleeing in motorized rickshaws, the Lahore police chief and a Sri Lankan official said.

Eight Die as Gunmen in Pakistan Attack Cricket Team

As the article goes on to point out, the Sri Lankan team is one of the few international cricket teams to participate in matches there in the last few years:

The Australian and other cricket teams have refused to play in Pakistan, saying that the safety of its players was at risk and that Pakistan was unable to provide adequate protection. Australia, England, New Zealand and South Africa all boycotted a major tournament in Pakistan last year.

Eight Die as Gunmen in Pakistan Attack Cricket Team

Cricket is as popular a sport in Pakistan as baseball or football are in America. That terrorists can do this, and are willing to, shows how extreme things are getting in Pakistan.

How important is the symbolism of the attack? Here's a quote from Al Jazeera:

It seems certain at least that Pakistan – a nation with a proud cricketing history and obsessive fans – will struggle to recover as a serious international force.

Former England cricketer Dominic Cork was a strong voice against England's return to India last year, but travelled to Pakistan as a commentator for the Sri Lanka series.

Speaking to Sky News from Lahore, he said he would not be returning - and doubted whether any cricketers would be either.

"I was badly advised to come out and commentate and will certainly be looking at the decision (in future) no matter what the country is," Cork said.

"Sport is second – it has to be second – until this region is sorted out["]

Lahore Assault Casts Long Shadow

It serves to further isolate Pakistan from the rest of the world. What's worse, it will do nothing to ease the tensions between Pakistan and its neighbor. Xinhua reports:

NEW DELHI, March 3 (Xinhua) -- In the wake of the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Pakistan Tuesday, India has decided not to play in the neighboring country at least for four or five years, Board for Cricket Control of India president Shashank Manohar said.

India cricket team not to play in Pakistan after Lahore attack

Cricket is one of the points of commonality between India and Pakistan. The symbolism of this announcement isn't good, either.

This attack was conducted with heavy weapons and looks to have been well planned, much as the attack in Mumbai, India was a few months ago. Whether the same group is responsible remains to be seen, but if you ask yourself who benefits from the results, a few obvious suspects emerge. The most likely are the religious fanatics, such as the Taliban, who would like to see Pakistan more isolated. Indian extremists might be a possibility, also, though I don't know of any who could conduct this sort of operation.

Whoever it turns out to be, it's another clear sign that things aren't getting better in Pakistan.


One Fly said...

Have had a bit of a fasination with India. The colors,food and of course all the diversity. If I ever visited which is doubtful Pakistan would not be on the agenda.

Being more pessimistic than most the future holds more of the same in that country.

Cujo359 said...

From my admittedly limited vantage point, I just don't see how things will get better any time soon. The new government is weak, the bureaucracy, the army in particular, is corrupt, and the religious fanatics are well armed.

All in all, not the way you'd try to set up a stable society.