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Despair In Pakistan Over Cricket Attack, Government's Incompetence

Notwithstanding the fact that the perpetrators have yet to be caught, what we can say for sure is that the real target of yesterday's attacks were not the Sri Lankan cricket team, nor was it Sri Lanka, or indeed cricket, but Pakistan itself. If ever there was a way to throw two fingers up at the Pakistani government and say we don't care, we don't play by your rules, this was it.

And everyone knows it. My Facebook page has been nearly jumping out of my laptop, with Pakistani friends despairing, truly despairing at their government's inability and ineptitude at holding fundamentalists at bay and getting to the root of the problem - to be a proper, responsible, strong, in control, legitimate government.

"It's adding to the atmosphere of insecurity already present," wrote one friend, "further tarnishing the country's image as a lawless state, more like adding to the atmosphere of insecurity already present, discouraging foreigners from visiting the troubled land, discouraging foreign investment in any form."

The government in Islamabad seems criminally preoccupied with power struggles and accusations (court proceedings drag on and disrupt the important business of government while President Zadari and former PM Nawaz Sharif go the verbal stoush). Ahem gentleman, can we pay attention to the pressing matters at hand? Like the future of your country.

But the West helps no one with its constant carping about Pakistan the Basket Case, Pakistan the Write Off, Pakistan the Islamist Haven. Yes, we recognize in that country the world has a problem, but let's get a grip, take a powder and dial down the pointless drama.

"Today Fareed Zakaria and Afghan Foreign Minister Mr. Spanta audaciously declared Pakistan 'the single most dangerous country in the world' without a thought to the fact that this menace was planted during the Cold War," wrote my good friend Maria Ahmad, a foreign affairs correspondent at Geo TV in Karachi. "Yes, we are a country plagued with this 'cancer' but none of us - not the elected government nor a dictatorship and never the civilians, have even remotely supported this. Pakistan stands to lose the most, our citizens, friends, repute and most of all, our economic opportunities. To isolate us is not the answer. We need dialogue and development, we need friends to stand by us because in this war we have inherited, we too are struggling for survival."

Within Pakistan, there is a deep struggle for some kind of political integrity, some sense that the truth must be told and that the government is genuinely working to and capable of repairing what have been identified, in the West as irreparable fissures. I worried to my friend Farrukh - always a good sounding board - that this attack would give the West yet another opportunity to accuse and blame and dismiss Pakistan based on perceptions that all Pakistanis are Muslim nut jobs living in a lawless land.

Farrukh wrote back some of the most sane words I have heard this week. "We have to fight reality not images. We must fight anyone who does this. No mercy for the terrorist either local or foreign!" was his succinct cri de coeur.

The last word goes to my friend Hasan. "Most people like me are crying in real, with tears in eyes. Today while posting my condolence to the Sri Lankan cricket board, I said them, sorry, as we feel ashamed that despite giving seven lives we could not save our precious guests from bullets of terrorists."

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