Saturday 22 Sep 2018 | 12:17 | SYDNEY
Saturday 22 Sep 2018 | 12:17 | SYDNEY

Pakistan: Targeting of cricket marks new low


Rory Medcalf


4 March 2009 10:04

A few analytical points about yesterday’s attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Pakistan merit registering. First, an assault on cricketers in a cricket-loving nation underlines just how divided a society Pakistan has become. Yes, there will be outrage, captured in Imran Khan’s comments. But the Taliban and its ilk have never had much regard for sport – infamously using a stadium in Kabul for public executions.

It is likely that the attackers, whatever their immediate organisational acronym, were Pakistani Taliban-affiliated extremists. Claims that the incident was linked to the civil war in Sri Lanka are hard to swallow. And the suggestion that mainstream political differences in Pakistan (the Sharif-Zardari rift) were somehow involved is wilder still. The followers of mass political parties in Pakistan have much more conventional avenues of protest.

The notion that Pakistan could turn overnight into a failed state has always been misinformed. If Pakistan ends, it will be through a series of perceptible steps, each of them a warning sign of the next dangerous stage. Depressingly, though, we have seen several of these in the past few years. Violence has spread to once safe-zones such as Islamabad, Rawalpindi and now Lahore, and once-inviolate entities such as the leadership, the Marriott Hotel (where Pakistan’s intelligence chiefs once did their deals) and now cricket.

What we can be confident about is that this violence – unlike, as is widely alleged, last November’s massacre in Mumbai – had zero complicity from within Pakistan’s military or intelligence establishment. That, of course, should be no cause for confidence about this precarious nation’s future.