Pakistan’s eastern city of Lahore is due to welcome Sri Lanka’s cricket team on its first visit since it survived a horrific terror attack on March 3, 2009.
The team was travelling to Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore when terrorists opened fire and hurled grenades and rockets at the bus, killing eight Pakistanis, including six policemen, and injuring six players and the coach.
The Sri Lankans, playing a Twenty 20 international match in Lahore on Sunday, are bringing international cricket back to Pakistan.
“I wish I could welcome the Sri Lankan team at the airport and drive them to the hotel,” Mehar Muhammad Khalil, who drove the bus that was attacked, told Arab News.
He is not the only one rejoicing; a spirit of jubilation permeates the whole city over the revival of Pakistan’s most loved sport, with billboards welcoming the Sri Lankan team.
Syed Sarim Raza, a digital marketing specialist, told Arab News: “I’m a cricket maniac. It’s delightful to see international cricket coming back to my country, as we’re a cricket-hungry nation with so many passionate followers of the game.”
Amna, a university student, told Arab News: “Now that international teams are finally coming to play in Pakistan, it’s a great step toward portraying us as a safe place. It’s a great achievement and should be celebrated.”
Pakistan Cricket Board Chairman Najam Sethi said of the Sri Lankan team’s arrival: “It’s a day of happiness for Pakistan.”
Some 11,000 policemen, assisted by rangers and the army, have been deployed to ensure security and a successful event.