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Does the World Cup face a terror threat?

February 17, 2011 19:51 IST

The cricket World Cup is just a few days away and the media blitz has already begun. This time, India stands a fairly good chance to bring the World Cup home after 28 years.

In Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh, we have a potent bowling attack that complements the explosive batting prowess of Virendra Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Yusuf Pathan, the ever dependable M S Dhoni and Sachin Tendulkar, the world's greatest batsmen.

But just as this build-up is going on, in Muridke, near Lahore in Pakistan, another kind of build up may well be in an advanced stage. As television images of joyous Indians, Bangladeshis and Sri Lankans are seen in Pakistan, anger and jealousy are is on the rise. The recent episode of spot fixing that has resulted in ban on three top Pakistani cricketers has further added to the gloom and doom.

Carrying out terror attacks during the World Cup in India may be an urgent necessity for the Lashkar-e-Tayiba and the Inter Services Intelligence before the common Pakistani begins to ask questions as to why his country has been denied the holding of the World Cup. Obviously the extremist violence that has rocked Pakistan for last several years is the cause. A successful conduct of the World Cup in the sub-continent minus Pakistan is likely to bring home to average Pakistani the price he is paying due to the activities of the terror groups.

Instructions must have been passed to the sleeper cells in India to make sure that the party is spoiled. One does not have to be an 'intelligence expert' to predict that there must be plots being hatched to create mayhem during the many matches that offer an ideal opportunity to strike.

The handlers of LeT and its godfather the ISI must have trotted out the familiar arguments of Kashmir violence/Gujrat riots/Babri mosque verdict to motivate the mass murderers. Appeal to religious solidarity will be used to get support and shelter for the would be terrorists.

Before accusing me of being paranoid, let me draw attention to the ongoing trial of LeT operatives who had planned to kidnap Sachin and Dhoni! This is no hallucination but a possible scenario.

Can a terrorist attack be prevented?

The answer to this is an unambiguous YES! No terror attack can succeed without local support or knowledge. It is time the Indians, irrespective of their caste and creed realise that the terrorists have twisted minds and mean to harm Indians. After all they did not spare any one at the CST station on 26/11.

As to our estranged citizens in Kashmir valley, one wishes to ask them to just look across the border! The daily toll in drone attacks is several times more than what the Kashmiris have ever faced in India! Do they wish to join a country that is bankrupt, being ravaged by attacks by American drones and where people praying in mosques are regularly gunned down! 

Cricket unifies Indians as nothing else does. Everyone cheers when Pathan hits those mighty sixes or Harbhajan foxes the opponent! This is precisely the thing that terrifies Pakistan. It is time Indians collectively decide and say NO to terrorism.

If a billion plus Indians are united on this issue, the handful of terrorists, both local and foreign, would be neutralised within no time. Citizens must come clean with any information they have on terrorists and their plots. If citizens are afraid of police, then they could well go to the media with their information.

The second measure to deal with terrorism lies in the domain of the government. The confessions of David Headley and many other sources have proved beyond reasonable doubt that LeT is an extension of Pakistani government.

India should warn that attacks carried out by LeT would be treated as an attack by Pakistan and will invite appropriate response. Let the onus be on Pakistan to prove that it has cut off support to LeT, its strategic asset. Till such time this happens we should have no dialogue with them. It is time for the Indian armed forces to be ready with their 'Cold Start' doctrine and forces. If we wish to prevent the terror attack during the World Cup, we must make this clear to Pakistan before an attack takes place.

Colonel Anil Athale (retd)