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March 4, 2009

Samir Chopra

Terrorists don't care for cricket

Samir Chopra



Last night, as I watched the India-New Zealand one-day international, Simon O'Doull and Ravi Shastri broke the news of the attack on the Sri Lankan team. I checked the headlines to make sure I'd heard them correctly, looked for updates, and then, still stunned, posted a brief note on my blog, which ended, "What a tragic way to refute the stupidest argument ever made in favor of playing cricket in Pakistan: 'the terrorists won't attack cricketers'". I never found that argument convincing (an attitude implicit in my post last year on why the Australian team was justified in not touring Pakistan), and it clearly doesn't have much mileage now.

Besides attempting to read the minds of unhinged killers, that argument committed the singular fallacy of imagining the terrorists had some stake in winning the hearts and minds of the Pakistani populace. They don't. They were, and are, interested in destabilizing the Pakistani polity, damaging its economy, and showing the Pakistani state is incapable of protecting the lives of its citizens. Why anyone would imagine that a mere cricket team would get in the way of their fascist ideology is beyond me. These folks were killing hundreds of innocent Pakistani men, women and children every year. That wasn't alienating the Pakistani populace? These killers were going to somehow spare international cricketers because they thought that would affect their public relations profile? That somehow the attack on a cricket team was going to be more damaging for their public profile than the much-repeated shots of women and children grieving for their dead?

Imran Khan, who for all his cricketing genius, always struck me as a political and intellectual lightweight, was fond of making the "the militants won't attack the cricketers" claim. Imran had in mind the idea that the violence in Pakistan was part of some massive expression of post-9/11 anti-American sentiment. But far more perspicuous analysis, by Pervez Hoodbhoy the distinguished Pakistani physicist, after the Lal Masjid events of 2007, always suggested the designs of the terror groups were more straightforward and ideological: destroy the Pakistani state from within.

The idea that these killers are cricket fans who in their spare time fire off a few AK-47s was always ludicrous. Indeed, one could make a very convincing argument that given all the focus on the international cricket scene and its security hassles, the terrorists, who do not lack a certain kind of deadly single-minded nous, would step up their efforts to attack a cricket team to completely discredit the Pakistani government. That they have done. In doing so, besides killing innocents, they have set back international cricket in Pakistan by a very long way. I assure you: they do not give a damn what cricket fans think about them.

In all of this, let us not forget that somewhere in Pakistan the families of the slain policemen are grieving. That is the true tragedy of today. The Sri Lankans are safe; one should be grateful for small mercies. And the Pakistani team will find other venues to play in. But the toll in human lives in Pakistan exacted by this insane violence shows no sign of diminishing.

Samir Chopra lives in Brooklyn and teaches Philosophy at the City University of New York. He tweets here

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Posted by jaggie_c on (March 6, 2009, 14:29 GMT)

I am actually tired of this statement "This can happen everywhere". This happens at a quicker frequency in Pakistan than anywherelse due to many terrorist groups *given* safe haven there.

This hypocratic denial by the public that is unable to acknowledge the root cause is what is making the world vulnerable. We do not have guts to acknowledge the facts!!!!.. I feel pity about it than anything else.

Posted by op on (March 5, 2009, 10:05 GMT)

I am a big fan of cricket.The Lahore attack not only just on SLC but also on World of Cricket and on the feelings of millions of cricket fans. In present scenario , Terrorism become the biggest threat to Human race in World.It has no religion.Their only goal to spread terror no matter in which way. So now time come to be united to eradicate terrorism and bring peace to this beautiful world.

Posted by Nayanta Pandita on (March 5, 2009, 7:38 GMT)

Just a few lines only: 1) Terrorism is a global menace. Stop blaming Pakistan alone - get together to uproot this menace for good. 2) This is exactly what we are doing in Sri Lanka - the fight is against "Terrorists" and not against Tamil People. 3) It is about time all those so called "Human Rights Organizations" that wears blinders and only see the rights of the terrorists shut their gap once and for all and let us get on with the job. 4)The President of Sri Lanka should invite the driver to Sri Lanka who acted bravely and honour him. 5) Thank God the cricketers did not die - but never forget the fact that 8 innocent human beings -who did these jobs because they needed to feed their children, lost their lives. Their lives are as valuable as those of the cricketers.

Posted by Imad on (March 5, 2009, 6:22 GMT)

Mr. Chopra I salute you for your words, I salute you for your sentiments, and now in hindsight, I appreciate the kind way you say "I told you so". On behalf of a nation who has now lost all credibility, I can now only pray that those in power in Pakistan may now perhaps choose to open their eyes and actually do something to protect Pakistan's sovereignty and its people.

My fellow Pakistanis who still are trying to find ways to shift blame and focus from this atrocity to other avenues (India), my suggestion to them is that it is now time to wake up and accept that there is a problem in Pakistan, and it needs to be fixed. We can no longer be like that woman who throws the trash she cleans out of her house in front of her neighbour's house and then be indignant at them for not keeping the street clean.

Posted by sanjay, Colorado on (March 4, 2009, 20:58 GMT)

1. Stop throwing stones at each other. This can happen anywhere. 2. Invest millions that you get from people for their education, not just protecting cricket, but its fan and everyone who loves it. 3. Face it. Whether it is PCB or BCCI or any other cricket body, it is there responsibility to make sure Govt has provided enough security. If not, buy private security using the money you earn from Cricket Match. Don't just say it is govt who has the power (reference to PCB). 4. CRICKET cannot stop terrorism (source is primarily uneducated people, poverty and extreme ideology) but Terrorism can stop CRICKET. 5. Life is worth living for people than dying for cricket

Posted by Naveen on (March 4, 2009, 16:16 GMT)

This is really shocking news for me. Even though, I am an Indian. Iam very sorry to Srilankan's and Pakistanies too. Thinking of Pakistani people living their lives in terror. How do get their normal life back? Is there any end to this. One incident in Mumbai shocked the whole India. If these things are happening every day, what do the government say. What do the people have about their future. Hope the piece comes in their lives.

Posted by cheel on (March 4, 2009, 15:57 GMT)

It is a dastardly act comitted by some cowards and me being an Indian can understand the plight of Pakistan cricket supporters since I had to go through the same albeit for a brief period before the English team decided to return back, I hope and pray that things will heal and head back to being normal. Its not just Pakistan's loss the cricketting fraternity will be robbed of some geniunely entertaining and hard fought cricket. I would expect my fellow Indian's to stand by our neighbours in such an hour of crisis. Hoping cricket in Pak is revived so that we can continue our love for hating there guts. Afterall I don't want my kid to grow up thinking India Pakistan cricketting rivalry is folklore.

Posted by Abul Shamsuddin on (March 4, 2009, 15:54 GMT)

The blame game will take us no where. The terrorists not only hate cricket, they hate anything that is civil and decent. They have to be confronted in unison not in isolation. What happened in Lahore, Mumbai or even in Mangalore may have different dimensions, but they have one commonality that is to instill fear in the minds of common people and establish a reign of terror.

South Asiain countries are becomming a hot bed of terrorist activities, this will excerbate if the politicians and state actors engage in a balme game instead of tackling the root causes and eradicate them.

"The price of apathy towards public affairs is to be ruled by evil men" Plato

Posted by Shamintha on (March 4, 2009, 15:48 GMT)

When i saw the news in the morining I could not belive what happened. As a Sri Lankan and die hard SL Cricket fan I was shocked to teh bone, hurt and sad. I too was one of those who were naive enough to believe that Pakistan was safe enough for our team to travel. After all we had a great relationship with PCB. We never forgot how tehy stood up for us in 96 when western teams refused to our us because of security concerns. It was just right that we returned teh favour (this was not a tour based on money alone like some here have suggested)- everyone in pakistan will be grateful and we could watch cricket against a good opponent. I feel sorry for our hosts and I know that 99% will be ashamed of this. Hopefully this will give them the motivation to realize what fundamentalism really means: no limits - just blind hate - even against those who were there to help.

Posted by Abul Shamsuddin on (March 4, 2009, 15:46 GMT)

The blame game will take us no where. The terrorists not only hate cricket, they hate anything that is civil and decent. They have to be confronted in unison not in isolation. What happened in Lahore, Mumbai or even in Mangalore may have different dimensions, but they have one commonality that is to instill fear in the minds of common people and establish a reign of terror.

South Asiain countries are becomming a hot bed of terrorist activities, this will excerbate if the politicians and state actors engage in a balme game instead of tackling the root causes and eradicate them.

"The price of apathy towards public affairs is to be ruled by evil men" Plato

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Samir Chopra
Samir Chopra lives in Brooklyn and teaches Philosophy at the City University of New York. He runs the blogs at samirchopra.com and Eye on Cricket. His book on the changing face of modern cricket, Brave New Pitch: The Evolution of Modern Cricket has been published by HarperCollins. Before The Cordon, he blogged on The Pitch and Different Strokes on ESPNcricinfo. @EyeonthePitch

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