From a state of denial to accepting ownership?
Ayesha Ijaz Khan writes in The News (6 March 2009):
While Pakistanis are not completely out of line if they have concerns about India's hegemonic designs and regional threats to their existence (in recent months, these threats have amplified. Yet, equally dangerous, if not more so, is the enemy within); regrettable as it is, it would not be unfair to say that extremism has permeated our society and over the past many decades there has been a systematic transfer of power from the secular segments of society to those claiming to pose as Islamists.
There is too much tolerance for religious posers, and precious little for dissent in secular terms. This is exhibited across the board. The biggest culprits of course have been successive governments, willing to make peace deals with those who threaten the very fabric of our legal and value structure, yet unwilling to accommodate political dissent or civil society activism based on globally-accepted human values.
But the trouble is also evident among large segments of our society at large. Those who hide behind the cloak of religiosity are rarely questioned about their motives or their actions. Even ten years ago, before the menace of Talibanization crept upon us so forcefully, a policeman, for instance, was far more likely to fine a clean-shaven driver as opposed to a bearded one.
I find it ridiculous, for example, when some analysts ask what the extremists would gain by targeting the Sri Lankans and thus further isolating Pakistan. What do they gain by burning girls' schools? What do they gain by mutilating dead bodies? What do they gain by attacking concerts? Isn't it just the spread of panic and fear that they are after? Have they been emboldened further by the deal in Swat?
Najmuddin Shaikh writes in Daily Times:
But if we want to face reality, we must accept that this was a homegrown attack. If it had foreign financing and perhaps some foreign planning, the finger should point not only towards our eastern border but also to the north of our own country. It is there that those who found shelter now find themselves under pressure, which can best be relieved if their sympathisers in Punjab — and there are plenty of those — can be motivated to create chaos and anarchy in the capital of the country’s largest province.
Najam Sethi writes in Daily Times:
No one will disagree that it was premature on the part of the media to start discussing an “Indian hand” in the terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team on March 3. Relying on a CID letter warning the government weeks in advance that the attack would be launched by India’s secret agency RAW, the media took off, bringing in commentators and analysts who were already wedded to the idea from their ideological convictions. But the campaign is coming unstuck even as it unfolds.....
The agencies have been finally forced to look for “local groups”, and that means the vast jihadi network now working for Al Qaeda and the Taliban. Because of their old linkages within the state institutions, these groups are able to plant “information” on our security personnel to confuse them and get them to ignore the real culprits. There is an unending stream of reported evidence that the jihadi organisations of Punjab are all aligned with Al Qaeda and have been involved in acts of terrorism planned by it. Yet, all TV discussions avoid naming them, preferring to focus on “foreign hands” that are never finally revealed.
Lahore Liberty ambush: Defunct outfit involvement revealed
Updated at: 0915 PST, Friday, March 06, 2009
ISLAMABAD: A defunct religious outfit ambushed the Sri Lankan cricket team and the assailants had come from the tribal areas.
Sources said that the law enforcing agencies have dug out evidences against the attackers, which revealed that the terrorists having links with Afghanistan give rise to this conclusion that Al Qaeda was also indirectly involved in the Libery tragedy.
Sources said that the two vehicles near the Big City Plaza, which were used for Sri lankan team’s ambush had come there early in the morning and no one checked them. Sources said that the terrorists, who has stayed in the Youth Hostel, took part in the action, while the other accomplices had stayed at Kot Lakhpat and Township Area. Secret agencies have found out from the record obtained from cellular phone that the terrorist’ four associates were present around Qaddafi Stadium, who in touch among themselves through mobile phones---one of them stationed near Punjab University new campus, other at Lahore Canal near Qaddafi Stadium, the third one at nearby Boulevard, while the fourth in the Firdaus market area.
Sources claimed that the terrorists kept using the station code for Sri Lankan team van and as soon as the van reached Liberty Chowk, the terrorists told each other that the ‘station’ was about to arrive. According to information, among the 14 terrorists a few belonged to Lahore, while others came from the tribal areas armed with explosives RDX highly inflammable.
Sources said that a breakthrough has been achieved as plausible evidences have been obtained and some crucial arrests could be made in the next one/two days.
Investigators see LeT footprints in Lahore attack
By Mubashir Zaidi and Irfan Raza
Friday, 06 Mar, 2009 (Dawn)
ISLAMABAD: Investigators are zeroing in on the footprints of the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), according to preliminary investigations by the Joint Investigation Team probing Tuesday’s attack on Sri Lankan cricketers at Lahore’s Liberty Chowk.
Sketchy details of the initial probe suggest that a group of headstrong Lashkar activists, who went underground and remained in hiding in Rawalpindi after the crackdown on Lashkar and Jamaatud Dawa in December, had acted on their own and carried out the attack.
Although officials would not confirm the involvement of Lashkar, they categorically ruled out the possibility of involvement of the Indian spy agency RAW (Research and Analysis Wing) or the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) as no evidence has been found so far pointing in their direction.
At least eight people, six policemen among them, were killed after 12 gunmen attacked the bus carrying Sri Lankan cricketers to Qadhafi Stadium.
The attack has killed hopes of any international sports events in Pakistan for months, if not years, and seriously damaged Pakistan’s reputation to host any international sporting event, including the 2011 Cricket World Cup.
The prime minister’s adviser on interior, Rehman Malik, refused to comment on the investigations when asked.
‘At this moment I can only say that investigations into the Lahore attack are going in the right direction. We have also involved the National Database Registration Authority (Nadra) to determine the identity of the attackers,’ he told Dawn.
Interestingly, officials working at Nadra told Dawn that they had no facility to match the sketches with the database. ‘It is a very expensive technology and we do not have it here. So Nadra cannot do anything in this regard,’ a top official of Nadra said.
But asked specifically about the involvement of Lashkar in the Lahore attack, Mr Malik said he could not reveal anything at the moment. ‘The preliminary report will be finalised by Friday. At this moment I can only say that reports regarding the involvement of LeT are speculation,’ he added.
Later he told reporters in Parliament that al Qaeda could be involved in the attack. He also said so far investigations had not yet found any Indian connection.
He told journalists that the involvement of India’s Raw had not been proved so far. But, he added, the final answer could only be given once the investigations were completed.
Mr Malik claimed that investigators had not found any link between the attackers and Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, a key Pakistani suspect in the Mumbai attacks and the alleged trainer/handler of the suicide squad that wreaked havoc in India’s commercial hub in November last year.
But he refused to share details with media of the arrests made by the law enforcement agencies so far.
The investigators involved in the probe believe that the attackers got their commando training in the camp of Lashkar’s operational commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi as their modus operandi had similarities with the Mumbai attackers.
Lakhvi was detained by authorities on suspicion of involvement in the Mumbai terror attacks. He was picked up from his camp in Muzaffarabad on Dec 10 last year.
Investigators believed that one of the attackers had assured the chief suspect in Mumbai terror attacks that his followers would take revenge against Pakistani authorities for his arrest and subsequent trial.
The authorities have also approached Jamaatud Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed, who is currently under detention at his Johar Town residence in Lahore, to help authorities in tracking down the attackers.
Sketch of four of the terrorists wanted in the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore on March 4.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd of Australia, home to two officials caught up in Tuesday's deadly attack in the city of Lahore, demanded to know how up to 12 men were able to stage the assault, killing eight and wounding seven players.
Footage of the gunmen's getaway has raised questions about Pakistan's ability to combat Taliban and Al-Qaeda linked militants, who have carried out scores of attacks here over the last two years and are the main suspects.
"We have identified the people who did the operation," provincial governor Salman Taseer told reporters in Lahore late Thursday.
Police released sketches of four suspects and have brought in around two dozen people for questioning but no leads have been announced.
Taseer said he would comment further after reviewing an interim investigation report due Friday.
The gunmen fired on the Sri Lankan team convoy with automatic weapons, grenades and a rocket launcher as the vehicles travelled to Lahore's Gaddafi Stadium but all the attackers fled without a trace.
No one has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, which left a total of 19 people injured.
In Australia, Rudd said he was unhappy about the security concerns expressed by Australian cricket officials travelling with the team.
"I am sufficiently concerned about what has been said by the Australians that we need an explanation, and we intend to get one," he told a radio interviewer on Friday.
Simon Taufel, one of the umpires travelling in the convoy with the Sri Lankan team, said his bus had been left unprotected once the assault began.
"You tell me why supposedly 20 armed commandos were in our convoy and when the team bus got going again, we were left on our own? I don't have any answers to these questions," he said.
Pakistan lawmakers have accused the government of a "serious security lapse", highlighting reports that authorities were warned of a possible attack.
The top government official for Lahore conceded Thursday there were gaps in the security provisions made for the Sri Lankan team.
"A terrorist has to succeed only once, whereas security has to be successful all the time. After every incident one gets wiser. You get to know all the gaps and how you should not repeat those gaps," Khusro Pervaiz told AFP.
More than 1,600 people have been killed in attacks over the past 22 months in Pakistan, where Al-Qaeda and Taliban militants have forged a base in the rugged, lawless northwest along the border with Afghanistan.
For decades, Pakistan's ISI military intelligence agency has fostered Islamist militant groups in Kashmir and Afghanistan, and there are suspicions that some ISI elements have links to militants inside the country.
The South Asian country's long history of unsolved political attacks includes the assassination in December 2007 of former premier Benazir Bhutto.
Tuesday's attack was also a serious blow for cricket in Pakistan, as the International Cricket Council raised doubts about whether it could still co-host the sport's 2011 World Cup.
New Zealand has indicated a tour of Pakistan set for November will likely be called off.