While the Pakistani nation was revelling the Pakistan Super League (PSL), a powerful bomb blast on Monday ripped through a protest in the city of Lahore on February 13, 2017, killing at least 13 people and wounding dozens, according to officials. The explosion went off in Lahore’s busy Mall Road during a rally attended by hundreds of pharmacists protesting against changes to a drug sale law outside the provincial assembly building. Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, a Pakistani Taliban-linked armed group, claimed responsibility for the attack, which also wounded at least 83 people, including media personnel covering the protest. A spokesman for the group warned in a statement that the blast was “just the start”.

Pakistan, as a cricket-loving nation, was expecting to watch PSL’s final in Lahore after two weeks. However, this blast has raised many questions on security and sports related matters. On one hand, it shows that despite killing thousands of terrorists by security forces, the capacity of launching suicide attacks by terrorist groups is yet to be controlled. On the other hand, it will have a long-term impact on revival of international cricket in Pakistan. The country has a red tape around it since 2009 for international players. It was due to the unfortunate attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team on 3 March 2009, when a bus carrying Sri Lankan cricketers, part of a larger convoy, was fired upon by 12 gunmen, near the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore. Since then, many teams declined to play in Pakistan due to security concerns. The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) had tried several times to convince Federation of International Cricket Association (FICA) and cricket boards to visit and witness the security measures taken by the PCB for foreign players. However, no one agreed except the Zimbabwe cricket board. The PCB’s decision to conduct the final of PSL in Lahore was an effort to send a strong signal to the international cricket community that Pakistan is a safe place for international players, alas it was not to be.

According to the International Cricket Council (ICC), more than 1.56 billion US dollars’ economic activities are associated with the cricket world cup. Due to the attack on Sri Lankan team in 2009, Pakistan had lost an opportunity to host the world cup 2011 in Lahore and Karachi. Those matches were shifted to Mumbai and Delhi respectively, which had provided huge volume of economic advantage to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).It seems clear that a large benefit of this attack will be to halt all continuation of such high profile sporting events.

It is not the matter of cricket only; it is the matter of promotion of the soft image of Pakistan. Activities associated with international cricket usually have long and short-term impact on the national soft image, economy and tourism opportunities etc. India cannot possibly welcome all three positive dimensions in Pakistan, hence the possible involvement of Indian intelligence agencies in this attack cannot be ignored as it could be a long term strategy of India to isolate Pakistan at an international level. Prime Minister of India had several times threatened to isolate Pakistan internationally.

Moreover, due to a lack of international cricket in Pakistan the national cricket is on its lowest ebb, as players do not find better opportunities to play and compete according to international standards. The scandals of spot fixing and corruption within the PSL this year, has not helped to improve the players’ reputation within the international cricket community either. Currently, Pakistan stands equal with Afghanistan as a cricketing nation who cannot host international cricketing events in the country. PSL’s final could have sent a strong signal to international community about the safety and security of the country. This event could have revived international cricket in the country. Despite such odds, if PCB somehow were able to arrange the final match of PSL in Lahore, it would be an immense success of the government, security forces and Pakistan as a cricket-loving nation. However, the future of revival of international cricket seems bleak in Pakistan. Unfortunately, the Lahore carnage has become the last nail in the coffin and ended all hopes of revival of international cricket in Pakistan. It can be concluded that the game cannot and will not be played in Pakistan for the foreseeable future; a period that could last for may be five to ten years.