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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Terror Alert as Pakistan Qualifies for Semi Final in India

Hindu Terror outfits to disrupt Pakistan Semi Final should India fail to qualify. Significant threat of terror attacks targetting Pakistan cricketers and citizens travelling to India to attend games.

Breaking News Exclusive | Dan Qayyum, PKKH
Pakistan team management is set to be briefed by Pakistani intelligence officials on the increased terror and disruption threats from Hindu extremist groups based in India, in the wake of Pakistan’s qualification to the Cricket WorldCup Semi Final scheduled to be played in Mohali, India.

Pakistan qualified for the Semi Final after comprehensively beating the West Indies on Wednesday and will be joined in Mohali next Wednesday by the winner of Thursday’s Quarter Final match between India and Australia in Ahmedabad, India.
Intelligence sources have specifically pointed out Abhinav Bharat, Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Bajrangdal among other Hindu extremist groups as planning to disrupt the next Wednesday’s Semi Final in Mohali should India fail to beat Australia tomorrow and qualify. Specific threats against the safety of Pakistan’s cricket team were issued earlier this month by Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray, warning Pakistan not to send its team to Mumbai – which is scheduled to host the final on April 2nd.
‘We have reports of VHP and Bajrangdal, among other Hindu terror outfits, planning to disrupt the Mohali game in case India does not qualify, or if it appears at any point in the match that it may lose to Pakistan – if it does qualify,’ said an intelligence official while speaking on condition of anonymity.
‘We are aware of the militant wing of Abhinav Bharat recently meeting senior Bajrangdal and VHP leaders in Gandhi Nagar. Indian media has already raised the bogey of supposed LeT (Lashkar-e-Tayba) terror threats which makes it easier for these Hindu terrorist groups to take advantage and carry out a terror attack to sabotage the final in Mumbai, incase India is booted out by Pakistan in the semifinal. The team hotels in Mohali and Mumbai (should Pakistan qualify) would also be under threat’, he added.
On Tuesday Pakistan Cricket Board officially requested the International Cricket Council (ICC) to ensure fool-proof security for its players if they qualify for the World Cup Semi Final and Final due to be held in India.
“Given the threats made by the Shiv Sena party warning Pakistan about playing in Mumbai and also statements made by some other extremist elements, the board just wants to be sure everything is in place if the team has to play in India,” another reliable source said. He said the PCB had contacted the ICC and asked the world body to ensure that Pakistan faced no problems playing in India.
Sources said that Pakistan foreign and interior ministries had already been in touch with their Indian counterparts to ensure proper security for the Pakistani players if they have to play in India. Following their qualification to the Semi Finals due to be held in Mohali, Pakistani diplomatic sources in India have confirmed the team will be thoroughly briefed upon landing in India on the security threats and risks involved in playing on Indian soil. Plans to swiftly evacuate the team from the Stadium and from the team hotel in event of trouble are also being drawn up.
Investigations in India recently have unearthed Hindu extremist groups’ involvement in a large number of terror attacks in India over the last few years, including the Ajmer Dargah blast, Malegaon blasts, Mecca Masjid blast among others. In another incident over 60 Pakistani citizens were burnt alive when the Samjhauta Express train travelling to Lahore, Pakistan from Delhi was bombed by Abhinav Bharat. A number of arrests made during these investigations include serving Indian army officers who are said to have supplied the terror groups with explosives. Indian authorities and media had initially blamed Lashkar-e-Tayba for these attacks.
“The Indians have also issued visas to around 3000 Pakistanis wishing to travel to India for the World Cup semifinal and final and obviously their security is also a concern for the Pakistan government,” the source said.
India have not played Pakistan in any bilateral series since the Mumbai terror attacks in November 2008. Pakistani cricketers have also not played in Indian Premier League after 2008.
“Pakistani players have not played in India since the first edition of the IPL in early 2008, so obviously the PCB wants to be sure the players are not uncomfortable going to India,” the source said.
Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi had initially said that his team would prefer to play its quarterfinal or semifinal out of India because of  the pressure involved in playing in front of Indian crowd. Afridi later retracted his statement saying that Pakistan were willing to play at any venue including India as their main emphasis was on cricket and doing well on the field.

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