March 03, 2009

Cricket Tragedy: A terrorist attack in Pakistan aimed at the visiting Sri Lankan cricket team leaves at least eight dead. The second Test is cancelled.

posted by owlhouse to other at 02:20 AM - 19 comments

That, sadly, is likely the end of Pakistan as a cricket-playing nation, or at least one where people get to see international cricket played in their home venues.

posted by rodgerd at 02:25 AM on March 03, 2009

That, sadly, is likely the end of Pakistan as a cricket-playing nation, or at least one where people get to see international cricket played in their home venues.

...and that's such a damn shame, when cricket had a recent history of building some bridges between Pakistan and other nations such as India. It'll always be easier to blow things up than it will be to make them or fix them, I guess...tangible objects or human relationships...but damn, I'd like to see a dedicated effort to defy this threat.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 05:38 PM on March 03, 2009

By attacking a sport that is universally loved on the sub-continent, the terrorists may have done themselves a huge disservice. I can only hope that the average Pakistani may now bring pressure to bear on their government to do something about the problems that cause this sort of thing to happen in the first place.

posted by owlhouse at 05:59 PM on March 03, 2009

Sri Lanka stepped in after India cancelled the Test series in Pakistan after the Mumbai attacks.

In recent years, there'd been the belief that you could avoid certain "troublespot" venues (Karachi, Peshawar) and still run a tour. No longer.

It's going to turn leading Pakistani cricketers into nomads, playing "home" series in neutral venues; they'd already arranged to play ODIs against Australia in the UAE (where there are large numbers of Pakistani migrant workers). It's also impossible to imagine the 2011 World Cup using Pakistani venues.

posted by etagloh at 06:06 PM on March 03, 2009

Man Pakistan is a mess these days. Sports certainly is one of those arenas that classically has provided opportunity for coming together. It's tragic that a few rotten apples can truly and effectively spoil the whole bunch.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 07:50 PM on March 03, 2009

Help me out here - what is the strategic goal of attacking a sporting event that is going ultimately feature your own country's team?

posted by Joey Michaels at 10:10 PM on March 03, 2009

The goal appears to be simply making a statement. In other words, "We're still out here; we haven't gone away."

posted by jjzucal at 12:00 AM on March 04, 2009

Help me out here - what is the strategic goal of attacking a sporting event that is going ultimately feature your own country's team? I'm not full up on my Asian current events, but I'm guessing the terrorists were Tamil, secessionists from the Sri Lankan state, so not really "your own country's team", but rather your long-time enemies' team.

Followed by what jjzucal said. The Tamil Tigers have had setbacks recently in their at least two decade war.

posted by bobfoot at 12:22 AM on March 04, 2009

I doubt this is the work of the LTTE. They would have serious problems operating outside Sri Lanka, especially in a place like Pakistan. The LTTE has had many chances to attack cricket in Sri Lanka over the years, and hasn't done so. There have been bombings in Colombo and elsewhere that have scared away touring teams, but the sport was never the target. The national cricket team is one area where Tamils have been well represented, and they have fans from all ethnic groups, so it would be self-defeating for the LTTE to do something like this.

While no-one has yet claimed responsibility, it seems to carry the hallmarks of one of the Pakistan-based groups, similar to the attack on Mumbai last year.

posted by owlhouse at 01:45 AM on March 04, 2009

This is where I experience cognitive dissonance. Let's say I live in Dallas and am part of a Texas Secessionists group. Assuming that my group's ultimate goal is to persuade enough Texans to come around to my way of thinking, attacking the Mariners right before a Rangers game is not going to help me. Yes, it might scare a few people away from MLB games in the future, but mostly its going to piss people off. So, it stands to reason that if this group's goal is, in fact, to win people over to their cause that they are morons. Of course, its also possible that winning people over to their side is not their goal. Maybe they just hate Cricket (an argument can be made, I suppose, that it is a symbol of British colonialism, though that is a stretch) or Sri Lankens (I don't know enough about Pakistani-Sri Lankan relations to know this). See, my problem is that I'm trying to assign a rational motive to irrational people. My other problem is that I sort of feel like athletes are sacrosanct. Yes, sometimes sporting events can get pretty heated - in worst case scenarios, even violent - but, ultimately, I've always viewed international sport is an expression of fellowship. Athletes are a country's least offensive and most welcome ambassadors. The existence of international sport expresses a very basic "we might not agree on everything, but we both enjoy this" sentiment that goes a long way towards bringing us all a little closer to understanding each other. Ah, I am hopelessly naive. I confess, I'm not a huge cricket fan, but reading about any attack on sporting events really upsets me. My thoughts are with the Sri Lankan team and the families of the various Pakistanis killed in this attack. I hope the perpetrators are swiftly brought to justice.

posted by Joey Michaels at 03:40 PM on March 04, 2009

A small bright spot here: heroic bus driver saves cricketers.

posted by Joey Michaels at 04:47 PM on March 04, 2009

Joey, I suspect the motivation lies in the desire to get media attention from all over the world. If they'd shot up a local bus and killed nine people, it's sad but true that CNN might have carried the story for a day and no more, but in attacking international sporting figures (or western tourists as in Mumbai), they get the attention of the world's press, and the world's sporting press, for most of the week and beyond. I'm in Korea and it's all over the news (the shootings in Pakistan, not the fact that I'm here).

If that is the logic being employed, it's a worrying development. What's next?

posted by JJ at 08:00 PM on March 04, 2009

That logic has been employed for ages. 1972 Olympics. Leon Klinghofer.

posted by bobfoot at 11:35 PM on March 04, 2009

Here's one blog's response

posted by kokaku at 11:30 AM on March 05, 2009

Thank you, Kokaku, for that blog link - that is exactly how I think I'd feel if I lived in Pakistan.

@jj - Yeah, I hate to imagine that this was just for publicity, but it very well might have been. What a dark, awful justification. Of course, I don't think anyone has claimed responsibility yet, so if that was the reason, they really haven't capitalized on it.

posted by Joey Michaels at 12:16 PM on March 05, 2009

For the record, I'm not saying that there are good reasons for terrorist attacks - but there are some reasons that are more evil than others.

posted by Joey Michaels at 12:17 PM on March 05, 2009

I do agree with that, Joey, but when the result is multiple deaths, the difference between evil and really evil doesn't seem to matter.

posted by BoKnows at 02:58 PM on March 05, 2009

Oh, I totally agree. I'm just trying to make some sense of what is essentially senseless. Pondering these things is what keeps me from sleeping soundly.

posted by Joey Michaels at 05:40 AM on March 06, 2009

For the record, I'm not saying that there are good reasons for terrorist attacks - but there are some reasons that are more evil than others.

"One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter." There are none who don't use some noble-sounding words and phrases -- liberation, self-determination, autonomy, God, justice -- and there are very, very few who won't resort to killing. But I think that I would draw the dividing line, not between "good" reasons and "bad" reasons, but between reasons and justifications. Publicity-seeking is a reason; it isn't a justification. If we conclude that "there are no reasons" or "there are no good reasons", we will fail to recognize causes. The article that kokaku linked to points to a reason stronger than mere "publicity": as a demonstration of power, a statement that if the terrorists can't build or contribute to a healthy civil society, they sure can muck one up. It's a "we own you" sort of demonstration, a statement that while the terrorists don't really control that much, they do have the power to take away your ability to walk down the street, enjoy a cricket match, travel on a bus, you name it. Attacks against civil society will always be impossible to totally prevent. In the long run, to win such a contest involves the commitment of the individuals who make up that society, to refuse to be controlled by threats, and in so doing to take on the very real risk of death or injury.

It could have been an attack on many things; it happened to be cricket. I hope it's not the end of international cricket in Pakistan, or walking down the street, or eating in a restaurant.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 05:39 PM on March 08, 2009

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