Those hoping for some good news on the morning of March 3, 2009 were greeted with the deafening sounds of gunshots and sights of chaos near Lahore's Liberty Market. This was a typical Mumbai style terrorist attack, well planned and executed in which the Sri Lankan cricket team was the clear target. A stunned nation watched television images showing attackers dressed in casual outfits armed with automatic weapons, carrying big shoulder backpacks loaded with hand grenades, explosives and bullets and firing on the move with ease, duly reminding us of Ajmal Kasab and his group who had leisurely shot dead innocent civilians at the Mumbai Railway station. The terrorists ambushed and attacked the Sri Lankan team convoy in broad daylight from different directions around the famous Bank Alfalah's well-maintained Liberty roundabout and had plenty of time to fire an odd rocket from a rocket launcher that narrowly missed the team's van. It is surprising that the elite police personnel who should have been deployed at such a vital point en-route were conspicuously absent while only a few traffic wardens were present. For the first time in our history, a visiting sports team has been so dangerously targeted and injuries caused to its few members, which has not only shocked the entire Pakistani nation but also the cricket lovers the world over. Many will recall how the New Zealand cricket team narrowly escaped catastrophe few years ago when a team of foreign naval experts were fatally targeted in a suicide attack in a leading Karachi hotel where the cricket team was also staying. Even if one Sri Lankan player had lost his life the consequences would have been horrendous. Our hearts and prayers go out for those brave escort policemen who withstood the brunt of the attack and lost their lives in this tragedy. Given the prevalent political turmoil and lawlessness ensuing from the imposition of Governor's Rule the Punjab, the security of the visiting cricket team should have been accorded the highest priority. This was also critical since the Sri Lankans had acceded to our special request to visit Pakistan when other cricketing countries including India had backed out for security reasons. This gesture by the Sri Lankan leadership was indeed a friendly and praiseworthy. It was therefore our prime responsibility as the host country to ensure foolproof and all- round security arrangements duly supported and coordinated with all intelligence agencies. It is a standard operating procedure on such high risk occasions involving foreign VVIP's that even local military intelligence apparatus is also integrated in the overall intelligence gathering effort/ plan. The Liberty terrorist attack points to serious security and intelligence lapses. Many questions need to be answered: 1. Was the route from the hotel to Gaddafi Stadium secured prior to the team's departure, as is normally the case for VVIP movement? 2. If the above route was changed at the last moment, were the security and intelligence agencies aware of this sudden change? 3. Was there any intelligence input regarding a suspected terrorist or sabotage activity to disrupt the cricket match or attempt to harm the visitors? 4. Were there a central security and surveillance plan and a dedicated team of officials designated to monitor every minute of this high profile international event? 5. Why was the team traveling in one vehicle, instead of at least two to avoid becoming a concentrated target for the attackers? The Liberty attackers achieved the following objectives: 1. As an immediate consequence, the test match has been cancelled and Sri-Lankan team flown out of Pakistan, which in itself is enough to lower our heads in shame. Remember how the England cricket team left Mumbai immediately after the terrorist attack and the test match was called off. 2. Future of International sports events and visits of foreign teams to Pakistan has been damaged beyond repair. No amount of persuasion will motivate any foreign team, let alone a Kabbadi team to visit Pakistan in foreseeable future. This is definitely bad news for the sportsmen and fun starved sport loving people of Pakistan. 3. If Pakistan's international cricket was in Intensive care for quite some time, this tragedy has signaled its death. Cricket matches in Pakistan related to the forthcoming 2011World Cup will most certainly now be shifted to other venues in India, Sri-Lanka and Bangladesh. 4. Pakistan's image as an unsafe and insecure state has been further boosted much to the delight of those anti-Pakistan forces which continuously harp on the theme that Pakistan is a failing state likely to fall into radical hands, hence create an international justification to target our strategic assets. The Liberty tragedy reflects a crisis of Governance in Pakistan in general and Punjab in particular, a breakdown of law and order providing a golden opportunity to terrorists to hit at will. In a situation where our political leadership has come to blows, where the administration is heavily politicized and traumatized in the ongoing domestic political and judiciary crisis, where the state apparatus is committed towards misplaced priorities, what happened at the Liberty roundabout was therefore not surprising. Equally important is the fact that many senior police officials and bureaucrats in Punjab were in the state of transition as a result of the recent largescale administrative reshuffle after the imposition of Governor's Rule in the province that provided an ideal environment for terrorism. The Liberty attackers must be hunted and captured dead or alive with full commitment and force. If required Pakistan Army must be called in aid of civil power towards achieving this objective. There must be a joint investigation of all the top intelligence agencies to find out the identity of these terrorists. Were they part of an indigenous terrorist outfit duly backed by masterminds from across our eastern borders that undertook this operation to defame Pakistan and keep it destabilized? Foreign involvement is a very strong possibility and should not be ruled out. The truth must be revealed and not hushed up to appease a certain group or country. For a change, heads must roll and those at the helm of affairs must be held accountable to the state. If the PCB, which has recently been blamed by the Senate sports committee for being incompetent and inefficient, is found to have blundered in any way, it must be cleaned up. To our political leadership, I plead earnestly, please bring sanity and order back to our beloved country. The writer is a retired Brigadier E-mail: