Terror Attack on Foreigners Exposes Internal Weakness

Article excerpt

Byline: Raza Khan, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- Last week's terrorist attack on the visiting cricket team from Sri Lanka is forcing Pakistan to look inward, making it more difficult to blame the U.S., India or other outsiders for a growing threat within its own borders.

In the days after Tuesday's attack, which killed six Pakistani police and a bus driver and wounded six Sri Lankan players, some officials blamed Indian intelligence or Sri Lanka's ethnic Tamil insurgency. But the attack also bore some of the hallmarks of the assault last year in Mumbai, India, by terrorists affiliated with a Pakistani group, Lashkar-e-Taiba.

Unfortunately in Pakistan, we have many people in responsible positions who blame outside factors for their own wrongdoings and mismanagement, but on the global level it does no good to our interests, said retired Gen. Talat Masood, one of the nation's most prominent security analysts.

On Friday, a senior police investigator told the Associated Press that a banned local militant group was involved. He spoke on the condition that he not be named because of the inflammatory nature of the topic.

However, Abdullah Gaznavi, a spokesman for Lashkar-e-Taiba, denied involvement. He told Reuters news agency, The attack is the handiwork of Indian agencies to malign the freedom struggle of Kashmir and Pakistan.

The attack, which occurred in downtown Lahore, Pakistan's cultural capital, raised serious questions about the capability of Pakistan's security apparatus. Video footage of the incident showed 14 terrorists escaping calmly after the attack.

Lahore-based security and political analyst Hassan Askari Rizvi said the incident gives a strong indication that the terrorists are powerful and the state is weak.

Empirical evidence shows Pakistan has little ability to fight terrorism and to prevent the country from being a free field for extremists, he said.

A spokesman for Pakistan's Ministry of Interior denied that assessment.

We are very much capable of fighting terrorism, and the negative impression in this regard is totally incorrect, said the spokesman, who spoke on the condition that he not be named, in another reflection of the fragility of the situation.

Some Pakistanis have even blamed Pakistan's own intelligence agencies for the attack, suggesting it was a way to dramatize the country's plight and garner more international backing. …