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Lahore attack: Musharraf flays security forces' response

March 05, 2009 20:43 IST
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Pakistani security forces on Thursday came under a stinging attack from former president Pervez Musharraf for not reacting swiftly to the strike on the Sri Lankan cricket team and taking the terrorists head-on.

"Our reaction should have been much better," Musharraf said, adding it appeared that the security personnel assigned to guard the cricket team lacked proper training.

"If this was the elite force, I would expect them to have shot down those people who attacked the cricket team," he told media persons in Islamabad after a meeting with opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid leader Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain.

"The reaction and their training should be of a level that if anybody shoots towards something that they are guarding, in less than three seconds they should shoot the men down. Now that should be the level of training that I expect from an elite force," said the former military ruler.

Musharraf, who had called on Hussain to condole the death of his mother, said there is a need to improve the standard of the security personnel as they had "not been able to shoot or kill anyone" during Tuesday's attack in Lahore.

Eight persons, including six policemen, were killed and over 20 others, seven of them Sri Lankan players and a coach, were injured in the attack carried out by a dozen terrorists at a busy traffic roundabout in Lahore.

Musharraf said the public too should have reacted to the attack. "This was not a place which was secluded. There were buildings and traffic around," he said.

"I would like to tell the public of Pakistan there should have been a brave man who should have taken his car and charged those people who were running around and brought him under the car," he said.

People in nearby buildings who had weapons should have also taken on the terrorists, he said.

Musharraf refused to speculate about the identity of the attackers, saying it would be premature to comment till the investigation is completed and the full facts emerged.

Referring to the fallout of the attack on the Sri Lankan players, he said: "It was a conspiracy against Pakistan and cricket has completely been finished in the country. No one wants to come here to play. This is very wrong."

Asked about the situation in Pakistan, he said, "The country is facing many difficulties and serious problems. I am hopeful that we can tackle these problems because this is a very serious situation for us."

Musharraf brushed aside a question on former premier Nawaz Sharif's comment that his spirit had entered President Asif Ali Zardari. He jokingly said: "My spirit seems to be very active. I don't know where it is because I can't see my own spirit."

Musharraf refused to give details about the National Reconciliation Ordinance NRO, a controversial law he had issued to scrap graft cases against Zardari and other leaders of the Pakistan People's Party.

"All I would like to say is that there is a reason, an environment and a situation, because of which certain decisions are made. When the time comes, I will give you the details," he said.

Zardari's critics have said he is reluctant to reinstate judges sacked by Musharraf during the 2007 emergency because he fears that they might repeal the NRO.

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