Pakistan has requested India to ensure ‘special security’ for its cricket team after Interior Minister Rehman Malik announced on Thursday that the government had received intelligence reports that terrorists groups may try to target them during the ongoing World Cup in India.
While the minister did not specify which group would target the players, or even what country the group was from, Malik suggested that the Taliban had begun to base their activities in India, where Pakistan is headed to for the semi-finals next week.
“The Taliban are active in India,” claimed Malik, quoting intelligence reports after a meeting with Interpol Secretary General Ronald Noble. “Intelligence reports suggest that there might be a serious attempt [to carry out an attack] by terrorists during the tournament in India. Information is being shared with Indian agencies about the terrorists,” he said.
Pakistan has sent a formal request to New Delhi through its high commission, added the interior minister.
The Indian government has assured Pakistan that adequate arrangements have been made to provide security to the Pakistani team, said Foreign Office Spokesperson Tehmina Janjua.
In what appeared to be a related development, the interior minister also said that a terrorist has been arrested by Interpol with the cooperation of Pakistani intelligence agencies but the arrested person has no direct connection with Pakistan.
Noble acknowledged Pakistan’s assistance and said that Interpol had managed to arrest a terrorist from Sri Lanka who was allegedly targeting cricketers during the World Cup. The arrest was made after receiving information from the Pakistani government.
In an apparent bid to seek reciprocity, the interior minister handed over a detailed list of Pakistan’s ‘most wanted’ persons to Interpol and called for issuing ‘blue notices,’ which would expedite international cooperation for their arrest.
For its part, Interpol seems keen on developing its ties with Pakistani law enforcement agencies. The international organisation will provide €2 million to Pakistan for collecting data on known terrorists as well as for building up the capacity of 38 offices of Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), according to Noble.
Shiv Sena threats
Terrorist attacks, however, are not the only threats facing the Pakistan cricket team during its matches in India. Several right-wing politicians have voiced their opposition to allowing Pakistan’s team to play on Indian soil.
“If the Pakistan team reaches the final in Mumbai, the Shiv Sena chief will decide whether to allow them to play,” said Manohar Joshi, the former chief minister of the Indian state of Maharashtra.
Mumbai, where the final match of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 is to be held, is the capital city of Maharashtra, and a strong-hold of the right-wing Shiv Sena party, which is known for its anti-Pakistan stance.
Indian authorities, earlier this month, had announced that militants from neighbouring countries might target the visiting teams, in what some observers saw as a veiled reference to Kashmiri militant groups that New Delhi accuses Pakistan of supporting.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 25th, 2011.