In the wake of the dastardly attack on the Sri Lankan Cricket team in Lahore, there are disturbing questions that haunt the mind. The manner in which the twelve accused terrorists continued hurling a barrage of bullets, even a rocket, at the convoy for over thirty minutes and then managed to escape with no difficulty, as has been so demonstratively proved by the CCTV footage, is indicative of a grave lack of security provided to the guests as well as the absence of police personnel along the route the visitors' caravan was to take. Viewed in the context of a 'presidential level security' that was promised to the visiting contingent by the Government of Pakistan, the actual security was not even at par with what would be ordinarily provided to a VIP. While talking to a television channel, the commissioner of Lahore also conceded the palpable security failure: "There are certain security lapses which are very vivid and very clear." He went on: "All convoys are provided outer cordons. In this case, the outer cordon did not respond, or it was not enough. The vehicles used for escorting the Sri Lankan convoy were not adequate." He concluded: "We accept the tragic security failure and we will learn for it." While the commissioner's statement should be appreciated for its candidness, it had a cruel undertone to it. Yes, the commissioner will learn from this grave lapse. He will learn by experimenting with the lives of the members of a visiting contingent from a friendly country. He will learn by sacrificing seven precious lives to the bullets of the assassins. He will learn by compromising the national interest and practically shutting the doors on any sporting events to be staged in the country for a long time in the future. He will learn by decisively soiling whatever credibility Pakistan had been left with through a sequence of pre- and post-incident blunders. Yes, the commissioner will learn at the cost of the country and its standing and stature in the comity of nations. So will the governor. His ranting and raving notwithstanding, holding an administration, that had been disqualified and sidelined, responsible for the incident springs straight out of an extremely devious mindset. There are a couple of other factors that should be taken into stock. There was no crossfire reported and the assailants were never challenged. The policemen who died during the incident were sitting ducks travelling in the only escort vehicle that accompanied the contingent. The policemen did not even have the time to realise what was happening. While one feels extremely sad at the manner in which they lost their lives, making national heroes of them would be stretching the fantasy too far They died because there was a criminal neglect on display when the Sri Lankan team moved from the hotel to the Stadium. For all the thirty odd minutes the attackers were firing indiscriminately in all directions, no police personnel showed up to confront them. While one police station is within one minute's walk from the place where the incident occurred, another is within a distance of about a kilometre. It appeared as if the entire police force had either disappeared, or they were grossly ill equipped and did not dare come out to engage the assailants. According to one report, the entire top police hierarchy was sleeping at home. The attackers disappeared as they had come: absolutely unchallenged Chris Broad, the match referee, has cast serious aspersions on the dynamics behind the assault: "Some one had advance knowledge of the attack on Sri Lanka's cricket team and held back the Pakistan players' bus to keep them out of danger." He went on to say: "At every junction from the hotel through to where we were attacked and all the way to the ground, there were police in light blue uniforms controlling traffic. How did the terrorists come to the roundabout and how did they start firing with these guys not doing any thing about it? There were plenty of police out there, (but these guys) did what they had to do and then went away. It is beyond me." The Australian umpires also echoed similar sentiments. Simon Taufnel said: "In our hour of need, we were left on our own. I am angry that we were isolated. I am angry that we did not get the same level of security that the players got." These statements are reflective of the immense damage the incident would cause to the country's image at the international level as they were carried live by the BBC and other channels. Right or wrong, they constitute a scathing indictment of the authorities that were responsible for the security of the visiting contingent and the accompanying officials. Of that, there should be no doubt. Of that there should be an immediate and transparent enquiry. And of that, responsibility should be apportioned. But, that is exactly what does not seem to be coming as the entire provincial administration simply refuses to acknowledge the grave security lapse and the impact it is going to have on the future of sports in the country. Instead of indulging in superficial and meaningless harangue, the provincial administration should concede its overzealous involvement in securing the numbers game for the PPP. The entire local administration had been reshuffled after the imposition of the Governor's Rule and there was a nagging security gap. More police personnel were assigned to the security of the tycoons transported from Islamabad, occupying plush offices at the chief minister's secretariat in the GOR, who were given the responsibility of getting the requisite numbers for the PPP than the Sri Lankan cricket team and the accompanying officials. One has come across inverted priorities in the past also, but this really should be the crowing glory of a criminal neglect right across the provincial security cauldron. One did not miss the erstwhile foreign minister of Pakistan boasting that the Sri Lankan authorities have reposed complete trust in the enquiry that the government is conducting into the tragedy. Passing the responsibility to the Indians or the Tamil Tigers would also not do the trick. It is only that the magnitude and the seriousness of the incident are not quite sinking in and there are attempts to divert the attention to petty innuendos. Once again, there are contrasting, often conflicting, reports emanating from various organs of the state authority. The statement the CNS made with regard to the Mumbai attacks, which he later tried vainly to contradict, is still fresh in one's memory. Let's hope this tragedy is also not buried under the mounting weight of meaningless verbiage and self-defeating orchestration of innocence. Of that no one would be convinced The writer is an independent political analyst based in Islamabad E-mail: