London/Lahore, Mar.4 (ANI): Few doubt that al-Qaeda or its affiliates in Pakistan's tribal areas were the instigators of Tuesday's terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team.
Suggestions that the Tamil Tigers were avenging their defeat in Sri Lanka are being seen as improbable, according to an analysis by The Times.
In hitting a visiting cricket team, they could not have chosen a target more likely to outrage a cricket-mad nation, humiliate its hapless Government and send a defiant message not only to India, Sri Lanka and other neighbors but also to the entire cricket world.
According to the paper, the timing of the attack in which seven Lankan cricketers sustained minor injuries and six policemen were killed, was intended "as a response to the recent deadly strikes by US drones on al-Qaeda leaders in villages on the Afghan border."
The paper further goes on to say that the political aim was to make it clear to the Pakistani Army and the political establishment that they are losing the war against religious extremism.
The message going out was that Pakistan's rulers have long failed to confront extremism. It was a chilling message that militant Islam is as ruthless, dangerous and adroit as ever.
It also demonstrated how Pakistan each day is inching nearer to becoming a failed state.
Pakistan's absurd initial claim that the attackers were sent across by India in a "conspiracy" to defame Pakistan beggar's belief.
According to the paper, the truth is that the army, the compromised Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency and the political establishment have shown no serious interest in confronting the Islamists, who have too many sympathisers in their own ranks to risk a crackdown.
Pakistan is now in grave danger. The latest atrocity increases tensions with India, weakens any hopes that America and the West will shore up the floundering democracy and makes it humiliatingly clear to ordinary people that their country is becoming ungovernable.
The paper says that President Zardari should use this attack to apply pressure to both the army and the ISI.
Pakistan risks a global cricket boycott, a threat that means a great deal to the Pakistani people.
To the millions for whom cricket is a religion; it should be a call to confront extremism before it destroys them and the ideals on which their state was founded. (ANI)