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With the report that masked gunmen opened fire on the bus of the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore today, I couldn't help but be reminded of a curious interview that I ran across in the 'Readings' section of Harper's several years ago.  In the course of a forthright discussion about killing as many Jews as he could, a terrorist scoffed at the idea that he would blow up a soccer stadium.  "Even if both of the teams playing and all of the fans were Jewish?" the interviewer asked.  Even then, the terrorist insisted.  It was still football.

On the subcontinent, where cricket has often been called the one common religion, I had always believed that something similar might apply.  Despite the animosity between India and Pakistan, most people have developed a grudging respect, if not love, for the players of the opposing team — especially now that international cricket has adopted neutral referees as a practice.  So when England and Australia refused to travel to Pakistan, citing the danger of a terrorist attack, I always thought they were being just a bit too circumspect.  

So did Pakistan.  After India refused to play them on the very valid grounds that "You can't send one team across the border to shoot people dead in the street and then send another team to play cricket in the afternoon sun" (or some such), Pakistan was cheered to see that Sri Lanka had no such reservations.  Suffering from their own problems with terrorism, they were willing to send their boys over to play despite the deteriorating situation.  

But Pakistan was irresponsible to issue such an invite, when it is clearly incapable of maintaining law and order within its borders.  The only recourse that the forces of reason appear to have is to concede to the fanatics.  

I don't know whether many more Pakistanis who have the means are, like a friend of mine from university, heading to Canada and foreign citizenship.  But with each passing day it seems more likely that it is time for headlines like the one bannered across Detroit papers after the 1968 riots initiated a massive exodus from the city: "Last One Out of Pakistan, Turn Out the Lights."

http://www.globalpost.com/notebook/india/090303/nothing-sacred