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    Rabble Rousing Random Ramblings by S Jagadish is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.

    March 03, 2009

    For your own sake, wake up and fight back, Pakistan

    I've never been a fan of over-emphasizing the power of sport, despite being a fan of several sports & sports teams. Hence, we need to see the terrorist attack in Lahore on the Sri Lankan cricket team's bus in perspective, as a diplomatic & political issue to be handled between the governments of those two countries and more importantly, as a display of what the terrorists can do, or are allowed to do. The focus should not be on the cricketers being targets. Those in the bus could well have been bob-sledding players, for all the terrorists cared. Indeed, it is likely that those behind the attack picked the Sri Lankan team "because they were there", to use a quote that George Mallory allegedly used. The purpose was to demonstrate an ability to attack at will. We don't yet (and probably never will) know who was behind the attacks.

    Yet, when Pakistan sneezes, India catches a cold. When an event of this nature occurs, the implications are larger. For years, Pakistan's political, diplomatic & cricketing establishments have been saying that cricket will never be targetted by terrorists (as if it is acceptable that the target is something else!). When there was debate on India's tour of Pakistan in 2004, I wrote

    India's refusal to tour Pakistan because of political considerations and terrorism in J & K absolutely baffles me. It allows Pakistan to accuse India of mixing sports with politics. India's official stance against playing in Pakistan should be that it cannot risk sending its players and citizens to a place where there is a VERY big threat perception. With Ganguly and Tendulkar being targetted by the Lashkar-e-toiba for kidnap, who is to say they wouldn't strike in "home" territory? I know there're sceptics among you who say. 'Ganguly le le, Kashmir de de' or even rejoice at the fact that the allegedly non-playing captain's absence finally offers scope for Yuvraj/Kaif to play or India playing an extra bowler. Thats rather frivolous.

    The point is that we should not tour Pakistan. Purely for security reasons. Nothing else.
    Last December, after the Indian government announced that India's tour of Pakistan in 2009 was off, I wrote
    In my opinion, the Indian government's decision is right, for the simple reason that India's cricketers would be sitting ducks in Pakistan given the huge potential for terrorist groups there to seek revenge for being banned. I know a lot of folks would say this robs fans of the chance to follow an eagerly awaited series, but that is secondary. The safety and security of cricketers should be the priority.
    To me, there is no difference between a Sri Lankan cricketer's life and an Indian cricketer's life, or indeed a Pakistani cricketer's life ... or indeed any life (cricketer or not!). Pakistani security personnel died while fighting the terrorists. Ehsan Raza, the reserve umpire for the Pakistan-Sri Lanka test at Lahore is seriously injured. Had India toured Pakistan, it is likely that the attack would have happened much earlier, rather than until three days to go before the series ended. India's government evidently believed that its citizens' lives were significantly threatened in Pakistan. Sri Lanka's government did not think so, for whatever reasons.

    Yet, the very fact that an apolitical group became a target means that Pakistan needs to seriously introspect on what it wants to be a decade, 25 years or 50 years later. I use the word "Pakistan" in a narrow sense, and exclude its politicians, government, intelligence, defence & strategic establishments from the list. I refer to the aam aadmi. Do they want to be a failed state in 5 years time? Do they want their country to be seen as the source of global terrorism? Do they want to live in denial of the bare facts - that their government & related establishments (defence & intelligence) have pursued terror as an instrument of policy since independence, that the government has no control over nearly half the country, that the economy is in shambles even as political one-upmanship threatens to destroy "democracy"? The result of these policies is very evident from the situation Pakistan finds itself in.

    Pakistanis missed a great opportunity to carry out a clean-up and produce a new generation of leaders after Benazir Bhutto's assassination like I fervently hoped.
    Although her death is a sad event and condemnable, in a warped sense, I hope this is the beginning of a clean-up of Pakistan's political system. The country desperately needs a new generation of leaders.
    Bleating that "Pakistan is a victim of terrorism" is just plain nonsense, when the truth is that "Pakistan is a victim of terrorism that it actively fomented".

    Pakistanis deserve much better. Wake up, smell the coffee and fight back, Pakistan! Not for India's sake or the world's sake. For your own sake!

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