If Lahore happened to be
the acme of Sri Lanka’s cricketing glory where it bagged the
World Cup in 1996 the same venue turned out to be Lanka’s
nightmarish nadir as the horrendous events that unfolded on
World television amply demonstrated yesterday.
Sri Lanka’s cricketers never deserved the horrendous
treatment they were subjected to when masked gunmen opened fire
on the team bus close to the venue of the second cricket test
For, this was more or less a goodwill tour that was
undertaken by our cricket team to the beleaguered country which
was given a wide berth by all cricket playing nations due to the
political and sectarian turmoil there.
Working at the back of our collective minds would also have
been the fact that it was Pakistan (India was the other) who
took the rare step of making an unscheduled visit to Sri Lanka
during the 1996 World Cup campaign when two other countries who
were scheduled to play here withdrew citing security reasons.
Regrettably elements who thought it fit to harm our
cricketers had no concern for such niceties in the quest of
achieving their diabolic ends. How harming a group of
cricketers, whose only role is to bring joy and pleasure to the
sports loving public of Pakistan, can achieve whatever object
the terrorists had in mind defies understanding.
Except that their sole intention was to create more mayhem
and anarchy in a country that is already reeling from sectarian
violence and shunned by the sporting world like the plague.
It also shows that even cricketers with such high profile
identities which Sri Lanka can boast of and almost deified in
the cricket mad sub continent are today fair game to these evil
forces, contrary to the unwritten law that sportsmen don’t
figure in the equation, and are spared from attacks.
That our cricketers were targeted in this fashion despite the
tight security provided will now render all sportsmen vulnerable
to attacks notwithstanding being tagged as defacto Ambassadors
of the countries they represent.
Mercifully they failed to inflict any serious causalities
among our cricketing knights and all Sri Lankans would earnestly
wish speedy recovery to Mahela and five other teammates from the
minor injuries they have sustained.
We say to them all Sri Lanka is proud of you for making this
bold foray into terrain that others feared to tread, knowing the
risks that are at stake, merely to repay a longstanding debt of
goodwill by Pakistan and also as an act of solidarity towards a
Their gesture also goes to demonstrate Sri Lanka’s ingrained
cultural ethos of repaying gratitude and most notably the
willingness to help a friend in distress.That they themselves
became targets did not matter in the least.
We are sure that this incident will not in any way sour Sri
Lanka’s ties with our erstwhile neighbour. Foreign Secretary Dr.
Palitha Kohona’s statement in the immediate aftermath of the
attack that Lanka - Pakistani ties will remain stronger as ever
is a matter for great solace.
As a country which has suffered the rigours of terrorism for
over three decades it is easy to empathize with Pakistan’s
As for the fall out of the incident no doubt this is going to
change the cricketing landscape not only in Asia but also the
rest of the world in dramatic fashion.Sadly a game that was
originally designed for leisure of the British and called the
gentlemen’s game from now on is going to be attached with
attributes that would be far removed from this description .
Very soon we are bound to see foreign teams being escorted by
military tanks and provided with air cover as well.It would not
be unusual to see team hotels being turned into virtual
garrisons. One TV commentator yesterday called for all roads to
be closed and rendered deserted during team arrivals and
departures at venues.
For now all Lankans would be praying with relief that no harm
had befallen our cricket team though the shock of the ordeal may
prey on the minds for some that may even affect their
performances on the field.The Sri Lanka Cricket team is the only
sporting unit in the world which survived an assassination bid.
The Israeli athletes of the 1972 Olympic games in Munich were
not so fortunate. At this moment of shock and consternation
while our hearts go out to our cricketers it is important to
remain calm to allow our heroes to get over their harrowing
ordeal.There would no doubt be thousands of supporters and
well-wishers who will throng the airport to express solidarity
with our gallant men.
We of the Daily News too wish Mahela and his boys a speedy
recovery and a return to the fray as quickly as possible to keep
the Lankan flag flying. As for Pakistan sadly this may sound the
death knell for it as a sporting venue if not sporting isolation
for a long time to come. Its prospects for the 2011 Cricket
World Cup now remain bleak.
Yesterday was certainly it’s version of 9/11, (Mumbai’s
26/11) in terms of the scale of the attack and the high profile
targets involved. One only hopes it would emerge from the ashes
soon and be a robust player on the Asian stage and in the
That terrorists have now started turning their guns on
sportsmen is indeed a frightening prospect. Sportsmen were
hitherto exempted from diabolical designs of terrorists.
This new development should now stir the world community to
redouble their efforts to slay this hydra headed monster. Today,
international terrorism has developed into a strong underlayer
across the length and breadth of the globe that is capable of
striking at will and without discrimination as shown by the
This should provide food for thought to those who are still
bent on treating terrorists and terror organisations with kid