There has been a warning by the ministry of Home Affairs stating that the ongoing cricket world cup is under threat. The threat is specific to the world cup final which will be played on April 2 and the attack is said to have been planned by the Lashkar-e-Tayiba and the Jamaat-e-Ahle-Sunnat.
Almost a month before the world cup, sources in the Intelligence Bureau had said that this grand event would be a target for terrorists. The Lashkar hatred towards cricket is quite an old one. Although the official line that the Lashkar tows while making its anger public against the game is connected to Jihad, the real reason is that the attention that they get in such an attack is immense.
The IB says that the latest threat from the Lashkar is interesting. They have roped in the Jamaat-e-Ahle-Sunnat for this attack. If one may recall this is the same outfit which had made news when it had warned people in Pakistan against offering prayers for the assasinated Salman Taseer.
The home ministry advisory of these two groups coming together during an attack indicates a deadly cocktail of Islamic fanatics. The IB says that the JAS is just another off shoot of the Lashkar. It was predictable that more such splinter groups would come out in the wake of the international pressure on the ISI to shut down the Lashkar.
If one looks closely at the JAS, it comprises mainly religious scholars. These were the same scholars who put out an ideology regarding cricket which the main bosses of the Lashkar had acted upon. Since quite some time the Lashkar has been making it clear that cricket will not be accepted in Pakistan. They had always been vocal about the fact that Pakistan should never play cricket. They did carry out the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team sometime back which ensured that cricket in Pakistan was banned for a long time.
The scholars who now belong to the JAS were originally part of the Lashkar. These persons are generally the think tanks who give a very religious feel to the madness practised by the Lashkar. The IB says that the final result is just chaos and madness and the Lashkar always wants to create panic and see as many people dead in any attack. However each attack needs to be justified for public consumption and that is when these religious scholars come into the picture to justify the attack either by connecting it to God or religion.
In the case of cricket, the Lashkar’s theory is simple.They feel that each and every Pakistani should focus all its attention on jihad. They find that there is more frenzy in Pakistan towards cricket than jihad. The Lashkar had made it clear that people can sit an entire day watching a game of cricket and could also waste up to five days watching the game. However they will not spend a single day for jihad which is clearly more important to them. Hence this group has always thought that the best way to send out this message is to target the game and its players.
Security agencies however rubbish this ideology and say that the only intention in their mind is mass murder. Sport has always been a soft target and they are well aware that providing security around stadiums is no easy job. The entire security pattern apart from screening and detection revolves round intelligence who will need to give very specific information about the movement of these terrorists.
Coming back to the instant case on hand the fact that the Lashkar has roped in the JAS is another indication that they want this organisation to gain recognition in the international community. They are clearly not content with the world knowing the JAS as a small fanatic group and would like the world to know about their capabilities. While the Lashkar would also want some of the heat on it to reduce, it would also want to create a new group which would carry out its activities in their name and hence the birth of the JAS.
The intercepts pertaining to the existing threat suggests that 17 militants of the JAS have purchased tickets and would be travelling to the venue and carry out a fidayeen styled attack. Currently all venues where the matches are being played are under tight scrutiny and the names of all the ticket holders are also being scanned.
When a police source was contacted, he said that the threat was serious. We would need the cooperation of all those present at these venues. We know that it is hard for them to keep down their excitement levels but they would have to cooperate and also inform the security about any suspicious movement in the interest of over all security.
In addition to this the intelligence also says that police officials should not focus all their attention just on the cricket ground. The team routes and important locations of the place in which the games are being played could also come under attack. Hence a state of high alert needs to be maintained everytime a game is played in the cricket world cup.