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Pak security inadequate

world Updated: Mar 04, 2009 00:44 IST

Some blamed it on Governor's Rule in Punjab, while others put it down to the sheer incompetence of the authorities. Conspiracy theories abound as Pakistanis tried to come to terms with the repercussions of the attack.

Though the visiting players survived with mostly minor injuries, Pakistan's already tarnished reputation as a sporting destination received a fatal blow at the hands of terrorists who left behind eight, mostly policemen, dead in what is normally a quiet Lahore neighborhood.

The one question that everybody was asking though, is how the attackers were allowed to come within striking distance of the Lankan team bus, which was supposed to be guarded like a vehicle carrying a head of state.

Local TV footage showed the perpetrators freely targeting their victims. The attack was carried out even though authorities had prior knowledge of a possible attack.

"The players' buses used to be taken through the Nehar-wali road but after receiving threats, the police escorted the vehicles from an alternate route which passes through the Liberty Roundabout," said a source.

"Where was the VVIP security?" asked Imran Khan, in Geo channel's Capital Talk, a popular talks show. The former Pakistan captain turned politician added: "Such an incident wouldn't have taken place had we given the poor Sri Lankans the sort of security the government provides to Rehman Malik," referring to the Prime Minister's Security Advisor. Malik's entourage is heavily guarded heavily wherever he goes in Pakistan.

The Lankans were supposed to get an even stricter security cover. They didn't. Just a handful of policemen guarded the visitors and most died, providing a human shield.

Once they were dead, the terrorists had clear shots at their intended targets. And then, there was no help from the police station just a stone's throw from the scene of crime.

Opposition politicians were quick to point the finger of blame at Salman Taseer, the Punjab Governor, saying he 'carelessly reshuffled' the Punjab Police after President Asif Zardari imposed Governor's Rule.

"There were too many loopholes and the terrorists' job was made easy," Shahbaz Sharif, the Pakistan Muslim League (N) leader, alleged.

The more popular target was, however, India. Most analysts were quick to point out that such an attack on Pakistani soil was expected because India had been planning to strike back ever since the 26/11 Mumbai attacks.

(The writer is the Sports Editor of The News daily in Pakistan)