Comment: Terrorism Isn't Just Destroying Cricket In Pakistan

In the wake of the recent Lahore attacks on Sri Lankan cricketers, Muhammed Wasim looks at the problems that Pakistani football is experiencing due to security concerns and terrorism.
The terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore, Pakistan shocked the global sports community.

Football’s governing body FIFA called a special ‘crisis evaluation committee’ meeting with the South African 2010 organizers to upgrade or further beef up the security plans for the world’s biggest sporting events.

Safety measures for the 2010 World Cup will be reviewed again and again to make the venues hotels and cities more secure. Football has the greatest global appeal among all sports and therefore is the most probable target of terrorists.

As the sports become ever more popular, it is natural that terrorists – in whatever shape and form -- would look to use that global interest. The tragedy of Munich Olympics in 1972 showed what kind of global platform terrorists could have to disseminate their power and demands.

In recent times, security obviously comes at the top of the list of priorities when any sporting event is planned. However, it is also a fact that countries where the law and order situation is fragile are more prone to terrorist attacks.

The Indian subcontinent has been facing problems of militancy and terrorism for more than a decade. However, the situation now is more alarming than ever before.

The sports community of the developed world has lately come to realize that the perpetrators of terrorism have no boundaries. They are not only nameless and faceless, but stateless too. They don’t want themselves to be confined to one particular region as the main objective before them is to terrorize people as much as possible.

Therefore games and sports, particularly those with global appeal, are obvious terrorist targets, as such attacks will earn them maximum attention.

At the moment, sporting activities are heavily destabilized in the subcontinent region. Within hours of the attack in Pakistan, the Bangladesh Cricket Association postponed a home series against Pakistan. The fate of the highly-publicized cricket competition, the Indian Premier League, is also undecided. Whatever happens, it’s a fact that sports fans will suffer more and more if nothing is done to ensure the safety of sports activities in the region.

As far as football is concerned in Pakistan, the situation is even worse. I have previously written about how religious militancy and ethnic parochialism has affected the game in the country.

Football used to be forbidden in some areas because of the ‘irreligious’ dress code of the game. In extreme cases, footballers have been tortured in the past and have died in terrorist attacks and in routine gang wars in Karachi.

It is another irony that as football is the game of poor masses in Pakistan, the teams and players are given the lowest priority in terms of security. Bartalan Bisciki, the noted Hungarian football coach, was selected last month by the Pakistan football association to coach the national team, but he refused to take up the job. He cited security fear in the country. 

Domestic football events in the country are also suffering. Last week a Punjabi-based football club refused to play the semi-final of the PFF Club League in the war-affected province of Baluchistan. During the Pakistan Premier League, Pakistan Army FC's match at Afghan FC was also shifted from Baluchistan, which deprived the Afghans of their home advantage.

These are tough times for Pakistan football. People must all be vigilant for the sake of the game they love.  

Muhammed Wasim