March 8, 2009 by: Sindh Today
Last Tuesday's attack on Sri Lankan cricket players heralds the spread of Taliban-trained groups into Pakistani heartlands, feel experts.
The commando-style strike in Lahore left eight people dead and eight members of the Sri Lankan cricket squad injured, raising serious doubts over whether Pakistan will host international sporting fixtures again.
Britain and American diplomats believe the militants' task was made easier by the actions of President Asif Ali Zardari, whose long-standing feud with political rival Nawaz Sharif led to the sacking of Sharif's brother Shahbaz as chief minister of Punjab last month.
"It is well-documented that recruits from southern Punjab are fighting in the North-West Frontier Province and tribal areas," one senior Western diplomat told the Sunday Telegraph.
"Extremist groups are exploiting the under-developed areas of the southern Punjab, particularly through their charity groups to recruit people. Shahbaz Sharif was moving to tackle the problem, but with the political upheaval it means that everything has to be studied over anew. Both sides are focusing on their political positions. It has distracted from the major issues," he added.
The United States and Britain remain alarmed by Pakistan's attempts to blame India for the Lahore attack.
Foreign diplomats believe this to be little more than a conspiracy designed to detract the blame from the Pakistani government's own doorstep.
American and British diplomats do not believe the militants are yet poised take over Pakistan's major metros, but they do believe the Lahore attack highlights the need to tackle terrorism beyond their dusty havens along the Afghan borders.
Ali Hasan Dayan, Human Rights Watch and political analyst, said Lahore had never witnessed a terrorist attack on such a scale and that its people, who regard themselves as the country's liberal, metropolitan elite, were embarrassed.
Taliban attacks spreading into Pakistani heartland: Experts | Sindh Today