ISLAMABAD: Exactly 40 days before the terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan team in Lahore, the Crime Investigation Department (CID) Punjab on Jan 22, 2009, had issued a precise threat alert about a RAW plan to target the touring team to defame Pakistan.
The CID, while referring to a source report, had said that the terrorist attack would be carried out while the Sri Lankan team is travelling “between the hotel and stadium or at the hotel during their stay”. And this is exactly what the whole world saw on March 3, 2009, raising a million dollar question about the serious security lapse on the part of the then government.
Although, those who were responsible for ignoring the threat alert remained unpunished, the attack showed how India was sponsoring terrorism to hurt Pakistan’s cricket.
The January 22, 2009, report tagged “SCRET/IMMEDIATE” with the subject “SOURCE REPORT” read: “It has reliably been learnt that RAW (the Indian Intelligence agency) has assigned its agents the task to target the Sri Lankan cricket team during its current visit to Lahore, especially while travelling between the hotel and stadium or at the hotel during their stay.
2. It is evident that RAW intends to show Pakistan as a security risk state for sports events particularly when European and 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 the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (proscribed) and its establishments to target them.
4. Extreme vigilance and heightened security arrangements indicated.”
The above source report was sent to Syed Kamal Shah, the then interior secretary, Government of Pakistan, Islamabad; Mr Javed Mahmood, the then chief secretary, Punjab, Lahore; Dr Syed Tauqir Shah, the then secretary to chief minister, Punjab, Lahore; and Mr Nadeem Hassan Asif, the then home secretary, Government of the Punjab, Lahore on January 22 with the covering letter of Additional IGP CID, Punjab, Lahore Malik Muhammad Iqbal. The same covering letter also included a note announcing that the Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) Lahore and Commissioner Lahore are being informed separately for necessary action.
The same day on January 22, 2009, the issue was brought to the notice of the then Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif because if its sensitivity. On his instruction, an urgent and confidential note was sent to the then IGP Punjab, Commissioner Lahore, CCPO Lahore, Chief Secretary and Home Secretary.
On behalf of the chief minister, it was stated that the “Chief Minister has seen the enclosed source report and has desired that every effort may be made for the security of the Sri Lankan cricket team during its current visit to Lahore. He has further desired that extreme vigilance and heightened security arrangements may be made to avert any untoward incident.”
On the very next day on January 23, 2009, a meeting was held on the subject under the chairmanship the then commissioner Lahore Khusro Pervaiz Khan and attended by the then Director IB Mirza Tamraiz M Khan; DIG Traffic Muhammad Ghalib Bandesha; Military Intelligence rep Col Saqib; Director ISI Lahore Ashraf Khan; DCO Lahore Sajjad Ahmad; district emergency officer Lahore Dr Ahmad Raza; SP/CID Lahore Azmat Ullah; protocol officer c/o DG Protocol Lahore Noorul Hassan; SP traffic Lahore Muhammad Asif Khan; SP city Lahore Rana Abdul Jabbar and others.
In the said meeting, the provincial government under Shahbaz Sharif took extremely tight security measures for the one-day international between Pakistan and Sri Lanka, which took place on Jan 26, 2009.
The authorities at that time discussed each aspect of the terrorism threat and the security measures to be taken. These minutes show the evolution of a comprehensive security plan and the contingency plan to pre-empt the possible threat of terrorism by RAW.
The then IG Punjab Shaukat Javed personally visited the whole route of the cricket team for the one-day match and even talked to the cops deployed there. The then CCPO Pervez Rathore also visited the site more than once.
To the country’s misfortune, the then PPP government imposed Governor’s rule in Punjab on Feb 25, 2009. After the imposition of Governor’s Rule, not only were the chief secretary and inspector general police changed but many police officers in Lahore, including the CCPO, SP Operation and six other SPs, were also changed and replaced. As a result, the emphasis of the CID report about RAW’s threat was overlooked and the whole world witnessed the unfortunate terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan team, which brought an end to international cricket in Pakistan for more than a decade.