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Pakistan's laughable spin

Pakistan's laughable spin

Author: Editorial
Publication: The Pioneer
Date: March 9, 2009
URL: http://www.dailypioneer.com/161350/Pakistan's-laughable-spin.html

Lahore attack probe is a farce

In the week since the March 3 terror attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in the heart of Lahore, the Pakistani authorities have spun half-a-dozen conspiracy theories. Finally some clarity seems to be emerging - but given the nature of the country, it is probably only a mild interruption in the fog. On Friday, March 6, Government investigators officially acknowledged that "local terrorists" were responsible for the ambush. The needle of suspicion pointed to Lashkar-e-Tayyeba operatives, vengeful after the 'crackdown' on their activities following the LeT's implication in the November 26, 2008, assault on Mumbai. Earlier in the week, Pakistani intelligence agencies had privately said the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, another Islamist group that had began as a Sunni supremacist organisation, had carried out the attack on behalf of the Taliban. If one discounts initial claims - related to the early hours after the incident - attributing the firing near Gaddafi Stadium to a "gang war" that unfortunately found the Sri Lankan team bus in the crossfire - there is still the 'foreign hand' to deal with. One Pakistani Minister has blamed India for the attack. A mysterious and clearly fabricated 'intelligence report' has also surfaced that allegedly warned the Punjab Government, days in advance, of the likelihood of a Research and Analyses Wing attack on the Sri Lankans while they journeyed from their hotel to the stadium. Quite obviously the report was written - manufactured would be more apt - after March 3. The Pakistani Interior Ministry says it can't rule out external actors and is studying the likelihood of the Tamil Tigers having secretly arrived in Lahore to kill the cricketers - or outsourced the task to jihadi mercenaries. A former General insists India organised the strike so that Pakistan would be discredited and its quota of matches for the 2011 cricket World Cup would move to Indian venues. Meanwhile, there is no trace of the 12 gunmen who arrived in rickshaws and escaped on foot and on motorcycles, vanishing into the ether of Lahore. In the past few days, distraught Pakistani commentators have bemoaned the "culture of denial" that has overcome the Islamabad establishment. The domestic sources of jihad and the fact that they threaten Pakistan itself must be acknowledged, it is argued. The issue is far beyond that. Even if the "culture of denial" melts away, the fact is the Pakistani state and its internal policing mechanism have been proved so ridiculously ineffectual that they simply cannot be trusted with the war against terrorism. Contrary to fanciful accounts, there was no ferocious gun-battle between the law and the terrorists on March 3. It was one-sided target practice. The policemen who were meant to guard the cricketers and match officials disappeared.

Chris Broad, the International Cricket Council match referee, found a Pakistani 'commando' cowering in his car, trying his best to hide. After the attack, the Lahore police, the Punjab Government and the Islamabad establishment have spun a dozen stories but made no headway, arrested nobody of consequence, provided no credible case. Is this a terrorism investigation or a Charlie Chaplin film? Actually, why should anyone be surprised? Pakistan's Government could not trust state agencies with investigating the murder of a former Prime Minister and instead requested the United Nations to find Benazir Bhutto's killers. The Sri Lankans must wait for a similar appeal to at least SAARC!


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