Conspiracy theories abound post-Lahore attack

March 4th, 2009 - 7:10 pm ICT by IANS  

Islamabad, March 4 (IANS) Did the police in Pakistan’s Punjab province warn that Indian spy agency RAW would stage an attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team? Was the attack linked to the action being taken against jehadi outfits in the wake of the Mumbai mayhem?
This apart, who was the unknown individual who made a telephone call that prompted a change in the route being taken by the bus carrying the Sri Lankan players, taking them directly in the line of fire of the attackers?

These are just three of the conspiracy theories doing the rounds here in the wake of the Tuesday attack on the Sri Lankan team bus that killed eight Pakistanis including six security personnel, and injured six cricketers.

According to a report in The News, the Crime Investigation Department (CID) “had accurately warned the Punjab government on Jan 22, 2009 about an Indian plan to target the Sri Lankan cricket team during its visit to Pakistan”.

The CID, while referring to a source report, said the terrorist attack would be carried out by RAW, especially while the Sri Lankan team would be travelling “between the hotel and stadium or at hotel during their stay”.

The CID report tagged “SECRET/IMMEDIATE” with subject “SOURCE REPORT” reads:

“It has reliably been learnt that RAW (Indian intelligence agency) has assigned its agents the task to target Sri Lankan cricket team during its current visit to Lahore, especially while travelling between the hotel and stadium or at hotel during their stay.

2. It is evident that RAW intends to show Pakistan a security risk state for sports events, particularly when the European and the Indian teams have already postponed their proposed visits considering it a high security risk to visit Pakistan.

3. RAW has also collected photographs of leaders of Jamaatud Daawa (proscribed) and its establishments to target them.

4. Extreme vigilance and heightened security arrangements indicated.”

“And the incident, which the whole world saw on March 3, precisely happened the same way, raising a hundred-million dollar question as to why the Punjab government, under Governor Salmaan Taseer, let it happen so easily despite a clear warning from the intelligence agencies of the country,” The News said.

According to another report in the same newspaper, many in Pakistan’s security establishment suspect the possible involvement of jehadi elements from Punjab in the Lahore assault.

The attack was a well thought-out plan orchestrated by Punjabi militants upset over the actions taken by the government in the aftermath of the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai, especially the arrest of several leading jehadi leaders who were set to face trial, security experts felt.

“These elements believe the double-edged blood-spattered attack was aimed at damaging the credibility of the government for such a grave security failure, besides releasing the rising pressure that had mounted over the Jehadi elements in Pakistan after the 26/11 Mumbai attacks.

“Sources in the security establishment added the Jehadis might be thinking that the 3/3 attacks would force India to go on the back foot, as had been the case with Islamabad after the Mumbai attacks and the ensuing allegations of a Pakistani hand,” The News said.

A third report in the newspaper said that a telephone call from an unknown phone number by an unknown man just before the Sri Lankan team started its journey towards the Gaddafi Stadium “was the sole reason behind the sudden change of route earlier fixed for the visiting team, which landed all of them in the deadly trap”.

Quoting information obtained from interior ministry sources, The News said that just as the police escort was ready to take the Sri Lanka team to the stadium, “an unknown caller told the cops to change the route and use the Gulberg road instead of the earlier fixed route of the Ferozpur road.

“The police, without verifying the identity of the caller, followed the new route. But they soon realised that they have fallen into the trap. These cops bore the brunt of the firing but saved the lives of the Sri Lankan players,” the newspaper added.

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