Imran Khan sees 'foreign element' in cricket attack
Former Pakistan captain Imran Khan believes a "foreign element" could be involved in this week's attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team, according to an interview published on Saturday.world Updated: Mar 07, 2009 17:05 IST
Former Pakistan captain Imran Khan believes a "foreign element" could be involved in this week's attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team, according to an interview published on Saturday.
"It could be India, Afghanistan, the Tamil Tigers," Khan was quoted as saying in an interview published online by The Times of London.
"The motive is to damage the state of Pakistan and end cricket in Pakistan. The shocking thing is that there was so little security for the players," Khan said.
Khan said that he now feared that Pakistan would be treated as a pariah by the rest of the world and that it was already being described as a "failed state" and a breeding ground for terrorists.
"This attack was guaranteed front-page news everywhere in the world," Khan said.
"The perpetrators wanted to portray Pakistan as a chaotic state in the Dark Ages. On Friday, the stock market took a nosedive. Pakistan is a resilient country but we have gone from crisis to crisis."
Khan's belief that foreigners may be involved in the cricket attack echoes Pakistan's interior minister Rehman Malik, who told reporters Friday that, "I cannot rule out (involvement of a) foreign hand in the incident."
Khan said that almost all the terrorism taking place in Pakistan since 2004, when its army was sent into the tribal areas, had been suicide attacks.
He said that last year there were over 100 suicide attacks "but they have a pattern. They are always in retaliation."
He said that this week's ambush by 12 gunmen was different.
"They had an escape route -- it was well planned. I certainly don't think this was done by ideological terrorists, motivated to blow themselves up." said Khan, who retired from cricket in 1992 and now heads his own political party.
Khan blamed the escalation of violence in Pakistan on its previous government's decision to join the US "war on terror" following the September 11 2001 attacks in New York.
He said this had made Pakistan a front-line state in the battle against Al-Qaeda, which should never have been allowed.
"The decision to send the Pakistani army into the tribal areas simply fuelled extremism... That turned people against the army and a new phenomenon was created: the Pakistan Taliban."