Lahore attackers were home-grown terrorists, say editorials


Islamabad : The attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team is proof that “the writ of our state is threadbare” and signals the requiem for international sporting events in Pakistan, a leading English newspaper said Wednesday, with another saying the assault “highlights the folly of negotiating with those bent on destroying our way of life”.

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Both editorials were trenchant in their criticism of the government, saying the Tuesday attack in Lahore that injured six Sri Lankan players and killed eight Pakistanis could have been carried out by internal elements within the country and wondered at the intelligence lapses that resulted in the assault.

They also drew a parallel with the 26/11 Mumbai carnage, with one editorial saying there was a similarity between the two attacks and the other, tongue in cheek, saying the Lahore attackers “did not arrive by boat” – a reference to the Mumbai attackers arriving by sea.

“The world has once again seen that Pakistan is an unsafe place, no matter where you are or who you are. That terrorism has both home and succour here. That the writ of our state is threadbare,” The News said in its editorial, headlined “Cricket – the requiem”.

“On Tuesday March 3, 2009 we heard the requiem for international cricket in Pakistan, but we also heard the steady footfall of extremist forces as they march ever-nearer to power,” it added.

The reference was to the peace deal between the North West Frontier Province government and the Taliban in return for enforcing Shariat laws in seven districts of the restive Swat region.

Noting that the prospect of Pakistan hosting international sporting events in future “vanishes”, the editorial said: “Those who carped at the Australian refusal to tour here because of security concerns now have their comeuppance.

“Nobody is going to tour here for a very long time, be they cricketers, hockey players or players of tiddlywinks.

“Who will make inwards foreign investment into our businesses? Or run the relief agencies that support the refugees from our own internal warfare? Or provide training and support to our educationalists?” the editorial wondered.

As for the antecedents of the attackers, The News said: “One thing of which we may be certain is that they did not arrive by boat” even as it conceded that the “reality” was that it was “just as likely” to be an assault “by our own home-grown terrorist organizations as it is to have been made or facilitated by ‘foreign hands’.”

“There is no shortage of highly-competent well-armed and trained groups within our own borders capable of such an operation.

“They have no need of foreign assistance or foreign money – there are plenty of people here happy to finance them and offer logistical support,” The News maintained.

It also pointed out that “another reality” of the attack was that it was carried out close to a police station “and that the attackers must have conducted a reconnaissance for them to set up a kill-zone – and nobody noticed?

“Nobody noticed that up to fourteen heavily armed men using at least three cars, as well as rickshaws and bicycles, were securing a road junction in the centre of Lahore? A reasonable person may infer from this that there was a failure of intelligence, both electronic and human,” the editorial maintained.

According to Dawn, the attack was carried out by “internal or external elements who wish to either destabilise the Pakistan government or to further isolate it internationally”.

“The (TV) footage shows all too clearly that this was an attack carried out by individuals who have received highly sophisticated combat training. Their approach was not dissimilar to that adopted by the Mumbai gunmen. Perhaps the same organisation is to blame for both tragedies,” Dawn said in its editorial headlined “Tragedy in Lahore”.

The assault also highlighted the “folly” of negotiating “with those bent on destroying our way of life.

“The peace deal, or capitulation, in Swat has been described by officialdom as a regional solution to a regional problem. This does not wash, it cannot fly.

“Militancy and terrorism are national problems that are not confined to a specific region. The obscurantists must be tackled head-on if we are to entertain any hope of redemption,” the newspaper maintained.

“If the state resorts to negotiating with militants from a position of weakness, what we will get is disaster, across the board. The politicians need to wake up, bury the hatchet in the national good and rout the real enemy,” the editorial added.