Editorial - Final score - Saturday, March 26, 2011

Source : http://thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=38223&Cat=8

That moment in the World Cup that everyone in the sub-continent is waiting for is now less than a week away. Following the first two quarter-finals, a potentially epic showdown between Pakistan and India is now scheduled for Mohali. This is a contest no one will want to miss. There are bound to be frenzy, passion and perhaps some fireworks. But we must pray that these remain restricted to the field and do not take the form of some terrible terrorist attack on the Pakistan team or anyone else. The sense of this happening has grown after an Interpol statement that a terrorist attack on the World Cup was foiled with the help of Pakistan, Sri Lanka and the Maldives. India had previously warned of an attack in Bangladesh.

But is the danger over? The Pakistan Interior Minister Rehman Malik has warned that a plot is possibly being hatched to target the Pakistanis in India. No names have been given, but the suspicion seems to be that terrorists may have begun activities in India in preparation for just such a strike. A bombing or other similar event during a high-profile cricket match, which will inevitably be played out before a packed stadium with millions more watching on TV, would give militant outfits just the kind of publicity they yearn for. It is important that India, Pakistan and other countries engaged in hosting the World Cup ensure this does not happen. The indications that information about the plot may have come from Sri Lanka suggest the militants have reached out to many places. If, indeed, a plan has been hatched to attack the Pakistani cricketers it must be thwarted before it is too late. We want to see runs being scored, not scenes of panic. Pakistani cricket has suffered greatly due to militancy and the actions of those who seek to damage the image of the country and its government. The 2009 attack on the visiting Sri Lankan team is just one example. This act has, for the past two years, deprived Pakistanis of matches played on home soil. The idea of still further destruction is terrifying. In addition to any militants with links in Pakistan, there’s also been some talk in India of action by right-wing groups, who may seek to extract some kind of revenge for all that happened in Mumbai in 2008.

We must keep our fingers – and our toes – crossed and hope this does not happen. The World Cup so far has seen plenty of outstanding action. Pakistan’s striking display against the West Indies was one example. India’s outstanding destruction of three times world champions Australia was another. The last thing we need is action other than sport. The additional security that will now be put in place will handicap supporters who throng to the ground. They too will hope that they can watch a match untarnished by any event that does not involve a wooden bat or the leather ball wielded by the men who play for their country and its honour before the watching eyes of the world. 

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