The Pakistani government’s recent judicial execution Aqeel Ahmed alias Dr Usman alias Kamran alias Nazir Ahmed for his key role in an attack on their military HQ — read within the context of ISIS beheading activities and the ISIS’s worldwide appeal for like-minds in the West to resort to high-profile symbolic killings, revives our attentiveness to the vulnerability of high-profile sportsmen on official duty for their countries. Not only sportsmen but also officials as Broad, Taufel and others will tell you in the instance of the Lahore attack. So, this reminder will be via a series of images –supplemented by point form thoughts below.
* In preparing my article “Cricket under Siege: The Lahore Attack, 3 March 2003” for the book Incursions & Excursions in and around Sri Lankan Cricket in 2011/12 I came to the conclusion that the media coverage of the attack on the Cricketing entourage was as skimpy as poor. Further, that the authorities in Pakistan were indulging in smoke and mirrors. This thought should not be taken as conclusive because my survey was not thorough and because I id not visit Pakistan or read the vernacular press. When I buttonholed Pakistani cricket-writers during the World Cup in Lanka 2011, they were clueless and/or guarded. The whole incident is not only a commentary on the extremism of certain jihadist forces; it reeks of Pakistani governmental subterfuge.
* It was not only the Sri Lankan cricket team’s bus that came under fire. The min-van carrying the umpires and other officials was part of the convoy and was, in fact, more endangered because its driver was hit and died instantly, while the fourth umpire was hit in the stomach. In fact the min-van was a sitting duck thereafter and one has to inquire why the militant assault teas am did not advance massacre all the c occupants namely Steve Davis, Chris Broad, Simon Taufel, Peter Manuel and others.
* The militant assault team fired an RPG at the tram bus as it slowed down near the roundabout. the shot missed. was this incompetence? or did they shoot to miss?
* In sum, was this merely a symbolic attack -meant to convey a message to the Pakistani government while refraining from killinga visiting corps?
* The entourage would normally have included a second bus with the Pakistani cricket team. That team was late and the other two vehicles set off without the Pakistanis. Was this a typical Asian act of dilatoriness? …. and was their some premeditated delay engineered by the militants?
* Why was the conductor of the Sri Lankan bus missing –gone AWOL– that particular day? Brendan Kuruppu asked the driver where the conductor was before they set off (information conveyed personally [alas I received Brendan’s lucid account after my book was in press].
* The cricket world needs to know about the unruffled and resolute action taken by Chris Broad in dire circumstances. In the mini-van he led the actions take to stem the flow of blood from the bullet in the fourth umpire’s stomach. When a police trooper who had survived by playing dead clambered into the van for safety, Broad ordered him to drive the van to the stadium.
* Though the action of the coach driver in speeding away and getting the Lankan cricket team to the Stadium has been quite validly applauded, the world should take cognisance of the fortitude shown by Chris Broad and all those in the min-van. Their collective trauma was probably as severe as that of the cricket team. Indeed, when I buttonholed Steve Davis at a cricket function at Temple Trees in Colombo and asked him if we could meet in Adelaide for a chat about the incident, he declined quite firmly. He did not want his mind to “go there.”
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