9th anniversary of Sri Lanka Attack : Has Pakistan come out of isolation

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  By Muhammad Luqman

The ongoing Pakistan Super League (PSL) tourney in oil-rich United Arab Emirates (UAE) definitely makes the cricket lovers feel that Pakistan’s cricket is still not out of the woods. This time, Lahore is going to host two play offs or semi finals of the League and finals may be held in Karachi. But South Asian country would have to  be security conscious  as the effects of what happened  9 years ago in the eastern city of Lahore are still haunting the sport. It all happened on Tuesday, the 3rd of March, 2009. Traffic was as usual at upscale Liberty roundabout  of Lahore, I was coordinating the working of reporters of Samaa TV office in the capacity of assignment editor in a building that overlooked the roundabout. Suddenly, I heard a bang.  The first thought struck my mind was that it may be some tyre burst. But when that bang was followed by firing sounds, I looked through the windows.  To my utter shock, atleast four young men with rucksacks on their backs were seen firing in various directions. As the information came in bits in next couple of minutes,  it became clear that the visiting Sri Lankan Cricket team was under attack. Two cameramen videotaped the attack from the windows of the building as it was not advisable to go out of the building to shoot the shooting. The  driver of the bus carrying the visitors was able to take the vehicle out of the danger zone.  Couple of Sri Lankan players including Kumar SangaKara received bullet injuries but all of them were safe. Police while showing traditional lethargy, showed up at the crime scene after  the 20 minutes firing ceased and the culprits escaped through the lanes around the Liberty Roundabout after killing 8 persons. Though the  incident lasted for 20 minutes.  Pakistan is still facing its implications. Newzealand cancelled its Pakistan tour scheduled for December 2009.  All the 14 matches of World Cup 2011 earlier scheduled to be held in Lahore, Karachi and other cities of Pakistan, were shifted to  India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Pakistan had to hold all the home series against other cricketing nations at neutral venues like United Arab Emirates. Since then, Pakistan has been able to lure  Kenya A , Zimbabwe, World XI and Sri Lanka to play in Lahore. But the security arrangements for these match too strict to attract the Pakistani cricket lovers. Only the finals of Pakistan Super League (PSL) second edition was a big success for the country as the players of other nations were also seen playing on the Gaddafi Stadium. It is believed that the ongoing PSL tournament would pave way for the return of international cricket . But it may take another two to three years to see some cricket team from Australia or England to play in Pakistan.

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