By Muhammad Luqman
It all happened on Tuesday, the 3rd of March, 2009. Flow of traffic was as usual at upscale Liberty roundabout of Lahore, the eastern city of Pakistan. I was coordinating the working of reporters of Samaa TV office 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- Liaquat Bashir and Ali Mujtaba 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.
Even after a decade, the 20-minutes long incident is still haunting Pakitan’s cricket. 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, West Indies and Zimbabwe to play in Lahore. But the security arrangements for these match too strict to attract the Pakistani cricket lovers.
Holding of some matches of Pakistan Super League (PSL) in Lahore and Karachi over the last couple of years have been helpful in bringing Pakistan out of paranoia to a great extent. But still, it seems a distant dream to play international cricket in a free manner. We will have to play home series at the places like UAE for some more years.