South Asia News
Sri Lanka opposition slams decision to send cricketers to Pakistan
Mar 3, 2009, 5:36 GMT
Colombo - Following an attack on Sri Lanka's cricket team in Lahore, Pakistan, Sri Lanka's main opposition parties Tuesday criticized the government's decision to send the country's players to tour Pakistan when other countries refused to play there.
The opposition raised the question when Sports Minister Gamini Lokuge informed parliament that six of the national team players were injured in the gun attack that occurred earlier on Tuesday in the eastern Pakistani city. As many as six policemen escorting the players were killed in the incident, according to Sri Lankan sources.
Lokgue told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa that Sri Lanka was making arrangements to get the team home as soon as possible.
He said four players had suffered slight injuries while two others are undergoing medical treatment.
The injured players have been identified as Thilan Samaraweera, Tharanga Pranavithana, Mahela Jayawardena, Chamina Vass, Kumar Sangakkara and Ajantha Mendis.
The main opposition United National Party and the Marxist JVP questioned the minister as to why the government had decided to send the team into the conflict-ridden country when even Australia refused to play in Pakistan due to security concerns.
Lokuge said that Sri Lanka had been assured the security afforded would be at the same level as to a visiting president or prime minister.
Former Sri Lankan national cricket captain Arjuna Ranatunga, a member of parliament for the ruling party, also defended the government's decision.
He said that when Sri Lanka jointly hosted the Cricket World Cup in 1996, the teams of Australia and the West Indies refused to play in Sri Lanka due to security reasons, but Pakistan and India sent a joint team to show solidarity with Sri Lanka.