Pakistan shits in cricketing nest

By skepticlawyer

Despite Imran Khan’s repeated assertions that terrorists would never attack cricketers in Pakistan (even though the Taliban frowned on the game), terrorists have fired on the Sri Lankan team’s tour bus in Lahore, killing several local police officers and wounding several of the players, two seriously. Understandably, the Test currently underway has been abandoned, the Sri Lankan players have been airlifted home, and cricket lovers the world over are in utter despair.

Sri Lanka was one country who always turned up to play in Pakistan when everyone else got the heaves — us, the Windies, India and so on. A fine repayment for their courage they’ve received.

Robert Merkel over at LP has a post up, as does Tim Blair. The latter also has chilling footage of part of the attack captured by a local Pakistani media outlet. To my mind, regular commenter Adrien captures the profound shitfulness of the situation in his comment at LP:

1. The govt in Pakistan has conceded the NW Province to Sharia law, effectively making it an extension of the Taliban ’state’.

2. Pakistan is totally fubar.

3. They’ve also got nukes.

4. Gulp.

UPDATE: Sri Lanka’s coach is Australian Trevor Bayliss. His account of what happened is here. Money quote:

I didn’t see much, but the guys at the front of the bus said they saw cars in front of us stop, then back-up. People then jumped out and started shooting. It’s strange now watching it on the television. They’re saying that we were being shot at from three or four different directions. It’s a bit surreal.

To be honest, everyone on the bus was pretty calm. I was on the floor thinking, ‘there’s nothing I can really do about it.’ Six or seven of the players were hit, some more seriously than others, but thankfully nothing is life threatening.

(Samaraweera) is probably the worst of the lot. Our new opening batsman, (Tharanga) Paranavitana, gave us a fright. There was blood all over his chest after he was hit by a bullet or piece of shrapnel from the side. There was a fair bit of blood in the dressing room. But I’m looking at him now and he seems OK, joking around as if nothing has happened.

They took them both to hospital, and they arrived back with us a couple of hours ago. They’ve got (Samaraweera) pretty drugged up at the moment, but they expect that he’ll be ok, just a bit sore for a while. The early reports are that he should be able to play again, but we’ll just have to wait and see how bad the damage is and he recovers.


  1. conrad
    Posted March 4, 2009 at 5:01 am | Permalink

    I would hope that even the fundamentalists in Pakistan are smart enough to realize that if they did get nuclear weapons, the source of them is fairly easy to trace, and any use of them would presumably entail getting knocked off the Earth (I imagine that things like saving civilians and so on would take a rather long distant second place to now if those things were really used).
    I would also think that many of these awful groups probably already have access to enough radioactive material for a dirty-bomb (how hard could it be to get some in failed states with nuclear reactors?). The fact these haven’t been used hopefully tells us something in this respect.

  2. Richard
    Posted March 4, 2009 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    What a misleading, inflammatory and altogether unhelpful post heading.

    I doubt, too, that the group that did this consulted with or cared for the opinion of Imran Khan so why give it such prominence? It’s irrelevant.

  3. Posted March 4, 2009 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

    I have been following the situation in Pakistan for a while.

    I see direct Western military action inside the country as a virtual inevitability. The U.S. and Israel in particular will not under any circumstances permit nutters of the calibre of the Taliban to get access to nukes.

    It has also been clear for some time that the war in Afghanistan is made infinitely more challenging by the existence of a large support network on the Pakistani side of the border.

    Fun times ahead. As a staunch opponent of the Iraq war (because it was started on lies, not necessarily because I oppose deposing dictators) I think that this is a situation in which military action is much more likely to be justified.

  4. Posted March 4, 2009 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

    PS – I find it kinda sad that the vast majority of Australians only pay attention to these serious international concerns when a bloody cricket team is involved (not directed at this blog in any way).

  5. Posted March 4, 2009 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

    Paul — as melancholy is it is to admit it — I suspect you’re right on both counts. Very disturbing. Robert Merkel at LP (with his fondness for WWII acronyms) made the point that he nearly headlined his post TARFU — Things Are Really Fucked Up in Pakistan right now.

  6. Posted March 4, 2009 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

    Remember, Pakistan is the only country in the world (that I can think of) that has a sentence of rape as part of the criminal justice system.

    If Pakistan is serious about not promoting terrorism, it should pull all of its forces of any kind ouf of Kashmir.

    Richard: The headline is not misleading at all, as long as the Pakistan govenrment has such great tolerance of terrorists operating in Pakistan.

  7. Posted March 4, 2009 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

    I suppose the shocking thing is not the violence (THAT we’ve seen before) but the confirmation that even cricket, which has been taken so seriously in Pakistan, is ‘no longer sacred’. There really are no rules and this is going to get ugly.

    As to Pakistan’s complicity … no the nutjobs didn’t ask permission, but in order for them to operate there needs to be a wider network of people turning a blind eye at community level and sheltering them (this is my cousin visiting from XXX level). The people in Pakistan are going to have to make the decision, “yes we are Muslims but we’re not THAT sort of Muslim”. It’s not a war the West, Israel or anyone else can fight for them.

  8. Posted March 5, 2009 at 2:32 am | Permalink

    Simon Barnes’ casual anti-Australianism irritates me no end, and this article is no exception, but one par makes a very telling point:

    But there is something still closer to the heart of a properly vengeful terrorist waging war against the world gone wrong. That is frivolity. Sport is an essentially trivial activity. To the puritan mindset, sport is a living statement of the world’s failure to take your issue of choice with the right kind of seriousness. If you attack the frivolity of sport, you are trumpeting in the loudest fashion possible the absolute and irrefragable seriousness of your own cause. There is yet one more reason to make sport an attractive target. That is because sport is about joy. Sport is uniquely capable of uniting great numbers of people in wonder and delight. What terrorist in the world would not wish to turn that joy to ashes?

  9. Posted March 5, 2009 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    So here we have someone doing a PhD at one of the world’s top universities now calling for a modern nation-state to be bombed, despite the fact that this country lost 6 of its own soldiers and 3 civilians.

    To top it off, this PhD candidate in law is now suggesting that if a part of the world allows a legal order based on the dreaded “s” word, it automatically means the Taliban in Afghanistan are back.

    And then Tim Blair is cited as an authority. The opinion editor of a tabloid newspaper. One who allows genocidal commentary on his website.

    Seriously silly, Clearly you know about as much of Pakistan as you do the Ukraine.

  10. Posted March 5, 2009 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    Seriously silly, Clearly you know about as much of Pakistan as you do the Ukraine.

    I’d be interested to hear your suggestions as to how we ensure that radical fundamentalists with a track record for massacring innocent people for no reason whatsoever do not gain control over nukes in Pakistan?

    I don’t believe there is any real doubt (at least in the unenlightened west) that the Taleban brand of sharia law is utterly evil and unacceptable according to basic standards of human rights.

  11. Posted March 5, 2009 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

    Paul, I think most people in Pakistan would agree with you about the Taliban-style of allegedly sacred law. Certainly if Afghanistan is anything to go by, the people of Swat are not in for a good time.

    Why did the Pakistan government allow the crazies in Swat to have their way to some extent? I guess to understand this, you’d have to read and follow debates inside Pakistan. You might get some idea by reading Pakistani English-language newspapers.

    I know many people in Pakistan aren’t terribly happy with the decision in Swat.

  12. Posey
    Posted March 5, 2009 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

    SL’s “Pakistan shits in cricketing nest” clearly suggests that Pakistan as a nation and by implication a large portion of its population is behind if not directly responsible for this terrorist attack. Of course that cannot possibly be true – on either count.

    But If it were true that Pakistan is responsible for this attack on Sri Lankan cricketers (not than any were killed, thank heavens) then it would follow that many people and many governments would regard Pakistan as a pariah, terrorist state and expect – nay demand – that it receive the sort of treatment from the West. above all, by the US, that states deemed terrorist have in the recent past, such as Iraq and Afghanistan.

    That is a pretty serious proposition to make.

  13. Posted March 5, 2009 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

    Okay, looks like I’ve been deserted by the Explanation Fairy ™, so we’ll try that again.

    1. Pakistan has tolerated Islamic extremists in its midst for a very long time.

    2. They have now attacked a cricket team, despite assurances that as nutty as extremist Islam gets, it wouldn’t get to this stage (I do think Imran Khan can be expected to know something about his fellow countrymen on that point).

    3. Cricket is an important source of revenue and provides considerable social cohesion across all classes in Pakistan.

    4. Refer (1); ergo shitting in your own nest.

    5. The country has nukes. Decommissioning its nukes may become necessary.

    I’m not going to speak for Paul, who may wish to make further comments of his own, but like him I think the Iraq war was based on lies, and thus unsupportable. I am also quite radically opposed to foreign intervention in order to ‘remake’ societies into liberal democracies, in part because I don’t think it’s possible in most cases and where it has been possible historically, it has required vast quantities of blood and treasure.

    Free-floating nukes in the hands of nutters, however, are a whole different kettle of fish.

    And another thing: your remark about ‘genocidal comments’ at Tim Blair’s site is defamatory, and presumably you as a lawyer are aware of that fact. It’s now hosted on our site, which makes us liable as publisher. I’ve notified Tim Blair and will remove the comment at his request, although he may have other preferences.

    And finally: I’ve never played the guilt-by-association game, and consider it among the lowest forms of argument. If I cite someone, it does not mean I agree with all or anything that they say. It means I found their post useful on that point (in this case, chiefly on the basis of interesting footage).

  14. Posey
    Posted March 5, 2009 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

    LE, by definition extreme politics involves upping the ante. If cricket has been deemed immune, then it inevitably becomes, strategically, an irresistible target in the current context and relationship of forces.

    Besides, sport and politics have always been enmeshed. This was one of my earliest political lessons. How could I forget! I was a young ‘un demonstrating with my mother outside the Tower Mill Hotel in Brisbane during the South African Springbok Rugby Union tour. It split my family. My father was a RU football player (and teacher) and she was an undergraduate student radicalised around the issue of apartheid.

    The tour was used by South Africa to defend and legitimise the indefensible. And in Australia and New Zealand, thousands of young people protested, ran onto the field, were arrested and physically beaten by cops.

    It was a plank in the defeat of a system.

  15. LDU
    Posted March 5, 2009 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

    Conceded to sharia?

    Conceded has connotations of negativity. Why do you care if they’ve “conceded” the region to sharia.

    The province is part of Pakistan. Pakistan can do as it likes with its provinces. If they want sharia, they should have it.

    Why should this be “shitful”

  16. Sir Charles Ponsonby
    Posted March 5, 2009 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

    The shrieks of “we were left alone” and “where were the police” coming from some of the officials involved in the Sri Lanka v Pakistan game tends to make one think that some police and maybe an MP or two are simpatico with those who seek change at the point of an AK-47.

  17. Posted March 5, 2009 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

    Some perceptive observations (leading to an interesting comments thread) by the Pakistan skipper, Younis Khan.

  18. Posted March 5, 2009 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

    The province is part of Pakistan. Pakistan can do as it likes with its provinces. If they want sharia, they should have it. Why should this be “shitful”…

    Perhaps it’s just ‘typical’ western colonial assumption, but after several hundred years bloodshed in Europe seperating church and state from law and all the social and economic positives that made possible, reverting from the inherited (and reasonably functional) constitutional justice model to religious law in Swat does seem a step backwards.

    Personally if someone’s faith tells them to paint themselves blue and bark at the moon that’s fine by me, and there are many Muslim countries who successfully integrate Sharia law alongside a functioning consitutional model (Malaysia springs to mind). But what I’m assuming will happen in Swat is that we’ll get the Taleban-style of sharia they had in Afghanistan pre-invasion where women were excluded from public life at gunpoint and treated as property (which is NOT supported by Islam, ironically). It doesn’t have to be of course, but it will…

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