Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Is Pakistan safe?

With Bangladesh's tour of Pakistan all but confirmed, the reality of an international cricket team touring the militancy-torn nation has elicited strong opinions in both countries. The website of the popular Pakistani daily Dawn ran a blog post by Hassan Cheema on Monday that queried if Pakistan was ready to host an international cricket series, and seemed to come to a conclusion that the risks outweighed the rewards.

Bangladesh are scheduled to play a one-day international and a T20 international in Lahore on April 29 and 30 respectively.

The post starts off by drawing a parallel between the 2010 African Cup of Nations (AfCON) in Angola and the 2009 Sri Lankan tour of Pakistan, both of which were disrupted by violent attacks on the sportsmen which led to a loss of lives. The AfCON attack happened in Cabinda, an exclave of Angola which had been a ground for separatist movement since independence. According to Hassan Cheema, Sri Lanka's motivation in touring Pakistan in 2009 "had been the same as the teams visiting Cabinda: they were trying to show that normalcy existed in these lands."

The writer went on to question the wisdom of using sport and sportspeople as tools to lift the image of troubled nations. "For decades, regimes throughout the world had used sport to provide an illusion of something which wasn't there. Now, it seemed, it was time for the terrorists to make sure that didn't happen. The push from all sides in the importance of sport had meant that sportspeople had become an automatic target for publicity for the latest of monstrous deeds."

He then turned the spotlight to the proposed tour by Bangladesh. "Over the past five years Pakistan has seen the deaths of thousands of its citizens and army men. Despite a reduction in the violence (of the terrorism kind) in the past few months, there have still been a number of attacks in 2012 alone. It is with this as context that one questions the ideas that Zaka Ashraf is proposing.

"Surely, the proposals for international teams and players to tour Pakistan should come when we have reached a semblance of normalcy and peace. Instead we have decided to assume our existing state as normalcy. What do we have to gain from a tour? An improvement in the image of the country? For the sake of what? A probable attack and the loss of lives for guests of this country? We are told that they'll be provided maximum security: this, a country which couldn't protect its most popular leader and the governor of the largest province [in addition to many other parliamentarians and mere plebs whose lives apparently count for less] in the past five years alone. The reluctance of many to visit Pakistan may have something to do with how much they value their lives -- rather than a vast conspiracy by the BCCI [Board of Control for Cricket in India]." 


Enmity, robbery might have claimed Sagar-Runi

Personal enmity and robbery were possibly the reasons behind the murder of the journalist couple, police said in its report submitted to the High Court on Tuesday.

Deputy attorney general A B M Altaf Hossain presented the report to the bench of justices A H M Shamsuddin Chowdhury and Jahangir Hossain, in keeping with an earlier order.

Detective Branch (DB) of police on Mar 21 submitted the report on progress of investigation into the killing of Sagar Sarowar and Meherun Runi. The following day, the inspector general of police also submitted a copy of the report.

Investigation officer Mohammad Rabiul Islam said in the report, "Two issues were given special attention: whether any organised gang carried out the killing, or any personal enmity or antagonism relating to the family or their profession led to their murder."

On Feb 11, Maasranga Television journalist Sagar and his wife ATN Bangla journalist Runi were killed in their Razabazar flat.

A case was filed accusing unidentified people. The Detective Branch is investigating the killing.

Referring to an application filed with Sher-e-Bangla Nagar Police Station by Runi's brother, the report submitted to the High Court on Tuesday said 10-11 bhori gold ornaments, 1100 euro in cash, two laptops and a mobile phone could not be found after the incident.

Efforts to recover the 'stolen' things are on, it said, adding that sources are being used to find them.

The investigators are quizzing residents and the owner of the building, guests, neighbours, friends and colleagues, the report said.

Other supplementary materials submitted by the plaintiff are also being examined, it said.

The report said 19 objects were found at the spot. Those include a kitchen knife, a knife, a knife-butt, a violet dress, a broken lock and a black dress. All of them had blood stains.

Quoting doctor Sohel Mahmud, who conducted the autopsy, the report said the journalist couple died due to excessive bleeding.