The recent attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team was final confirmation that Pakistan is in a complete mess. The civilian government that has no clue about how and where to take the country. (It does appear that Pakistan under Musharraf was more stable or at least seemed so from the outside?) Pakistan’s border area with Afghanistan has been virtually run over by terrorists. The opposition is desperate to destroy the Zaradari government given the recent court ruling against the Sharief brothers. The Pakistani government’s investigation against the mindless attack in Mumbai has neither appeased the Indians nor helped assuage the growing universal belief that Pakistan is the world’s leading breeding ground for terrorism.
After Australia, West Indies and more recently India withdrew plans to tour Pakistan, Sri Lanka gave Pakistan a chance to redeem itself and prove to the cricketing world that the country was safe at least for sports. To say that Pakistan blew this opportunity is an understatement. With this recent security lapse, cricket in Pakistan with visiting foreign teams is virtually dead for the foreseeable future. It is laughable to imagine Pakistan co-hosting the 2011 Cricket World Cup. Under these circumstances the Pakistan Board’s earlier decision to deny its players a chance to participate in the IPL league seems that much more silly and short sighted. The Government of India seems to have made the perfectly right choice by calling off the Pakistan tour. Its downright scary to imagine the the public reaction in India had its cricket team been attacked on Pakistan soil. What I find surprising though is the little that is being asked of the Sri Lankan government by its media. What was the Sri Lankan goverment thinking when it agreed to tour Pakistan?
India has been crying itself hoarse about Pakistan’s involvement in cross border terrorism and about terrorist camps across Pakistan. Lahore was considered one of the better and safer cities in Pakistan. A blatant attack on a touring team happening in one of the better cities of Pakistan is a sure sign of a worsening law and order situation across the country. Where does Pakistan go from here? Well, a good start would be to stop being in denial and accept that the situation in Pakistan is dire, getting worse by the day and worthy of immediate attention of the world. Next, Pakistan must kiss goodbye to the Kashmir issue at least until it can get its house in order. It must go the extra step of making peace with India by handing over the terrorists responsible for the Mumbai attacks to India and preventing further acts of cross-border terrorism. Most importantly, it must not hesitate to seek international assistance in dismantling terrorist camps across the country no matter how unpopular the step might be. The Obama administration has indicated its plan to pull out of Iraq. Meanwhile, it is critical for the US to simultaneously develop a sensible Pakistan strategy (perhaps in cooperation with India) before it is too late.