Cricket, that shared legacy of British colonialism, has taken centre stage in Australian blogs following the terror attack in Lahore.
Irfan Yusuf at Planet Irf saw it this way:
Pakistan may describe itself as an Islamic republic, but the real religion which unites all Pakistanis is cricket. This is a cricket-mad country. I remember being in Pakistan when an overseas team was touring, and seeing crowded city streets become almost deserted and shops open but with shop keepers having their eyes glued to the TV sets.
During the early 1990's, one Pakistani mufti became a laughing stock after delivering a fatwa that cricket was haraam (forbidden under religious law). His reasons? He claimed people who watched cricket rarely took time out to perform their nemaaz (the worship Muslims are required to perform at five set times a day). And that Pakistani women would get excited by watching Pakistani bowlers like Imran Khan rub the ball in a certain place as he walked back to start his run-up.
Perhaps the shock of the Marriot Hotel blasts in Islamabad shocked people in the middle and upper classes. However, cricket is something Pakistanis of all classes enjoy. Cricket is played in both slums and on the turf pitches of posh Pakistani private schools. Cricketers, be they Pakistani or foreign, are like the revered saints of this secular religion. Umpires (except when they are deemed to have made the wrong decision) are like the high priests.
Presenting others’ claims about the usual suspects, he asks:
Who is responsible? Muslim extremists? Tamil Tigers?
Andrew Bolt, controversial journalist and blogger for the Herald Sun newspaper in Melbourne, is no friend of what he sees as dangerous lefties:
I think the apologists are running out of excuses. The US, we were told, brought 9-11 on itself through its aggression. We invited Bali on ourselves by siding with the US. India provoked the Mumbai slaughter by discriminating against Muslims. But the Sri Lankans? How on earth can even the barking mad blame them for this? Now, can we start discussing the role of Islam in political violence, and without the usual shut-ups of “racist!”.
Duckpond, a regular political blogger, started with a very popular figure in Australia, the former Pakistan cricket captain turned politician Imran Khan:
Imran Khan, who is close to matters cricket, says the level of security provided to to the Sri Lankan cricket team was scandalous. He is suggesting the Pakistani Government was negligent or incompetent.
He expressed his concern about Pakistan's instability:
It would not be the first time that attack on a soft target has organized to create maximum publicity. Pakistan with its history of military dictatorships, supported by the West, especially the United States, and its fractious ethnic populations, and a nuclear power, is not looking especially stable.
But he sees this attack as part of a failed global policy against terror:
The invasion of Afghanistan over seven years ago was supposed to be a quick fix, like that of Antigua or Panama, but as perhaps was predictable by those knew something about the area has proven to be very destabilizing, if not catastrophic.
Skepticlawyer, also referred to Imran Khan but with more negative connotations:
Despite Imran Khan’s repeated assertions that terrorists would never attack cricketers in Pakistan (even though the Taliban frowned on the game), terrorists have fired on the Sri Lankan team’s tour bus in Lahore, killing several local police officers and wounding several of the players, two seriously. Understandably, the Test currently underway has been abandoned, the Sri Lankan players have been airlifted home, and cricket lovers the world over are in utter despair.
This terror attack has taken bushfires off the front pages of Australian newspapers and the lead stories of the electronic media.
Jack the Insider, who also blogs for a Murdoch paper, The Australian, has similar concerns about Pakistan's stability:
Elsewhere in Pakistan cities like Lahore, Karachi and the capital, Islamabad, have become war zones where chaos and carnage have become a way of life. The cities have become grid locked as people travel from one military checkpoint to the next and the sound of car bombs exploding reverberates around the cities on an almost daily basis.
Just 10 years ago Australia’s cricket captain, Mark Taylor made 334 not out at Peshawar, Pakistan’s most northern city. Now the city belongs to the Taliban and no Westerner with a scintilla of sanity would consider travelling there.
It should come as no surprise that Pakistan’s national game and the game loved by millions around the world has become entangled in the violence.
The world needs to view this disgraceful act as a call to arms. The rule of law is on the verge of collapse in Pakistan and there is a real prospect that the nuclear-armed country will lurch into a civil war.
The comments are worth reading for their diverse range of opinions.