Lahore:Sri Lankan batsman Mahela Jayawardene does not even want to talk about the March 3 attack on his team in Lahore last year while Meher Khalil, who drove the Lankans to safety under a hail of bullets and grenades, still shivers with horror whenever he recalls the episode.
Jayawardene was the Sri Lankan captain and Khalil was driving the team bus when the militants launched a brazen attack at the Liberty Chowk roundabout, leaving six Pakistani policemen and a van driver dead and injuring five Sri Lankan players, their assistant coach and a reserve umpire.
"It is one year today since that incident and I don't want to talk about it," Jayawardene told the Geo super channel.
"I don't want to revisit those horrifying moments, we are trying to forget it," he said.
Sri Lankan players, Tillakeratne Dilshan and Thilan Samaraweera were seriously injured in the attack while Pakistani reserve umpire Ehsan Raza, who was behind the team bus in the van taking the ICC match officials to the stadium, was shot twice and required two life-saving operations to survive.
Meher Khalil remembers that fateful day rather vividly.
"I still recall those moments with horror. My life definitely changed after that attack for the better. But I am just thankful to God that no Sri Lankan player was killed in the attack," Khalil said.
Khalil was given a hero's welcome in Sri Lanka after the incident in which his presence of mind and bravery prevented the militants from killing the visiting players.
"I still feel the attack could have been avoided if the security had been better. But it was an incident which was very bad for Pakistan cricket and it damaged our image a lot," Khalil said.
Since the incident Khalil was showered with cash rewards for his bravery but said he still lives in his old house in an old neighborhood of Lahore and is planning to soon start his own garments business.
"The respect and love I got from my own people and specially from the Sri Lankans is something I will cherish all my life," he said.
Khalil, however, has one complaint that the half a million rupees promised to him by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gillani have still not be delivered.
"Some people came got their pictures taken and made promises and they didn't fulfill those promises," he added.
Former Test captain Aamir Sohail, who was a senior official in the board at the time of the attack, said the incident caused great damage to Pakistan cricket.
"I also feel that the board didn't do enough to take damage control steps and repair its relations with Sri Lanka and the ICC and its member countries. We didn't take enough initiative to ensure teams still trusted us enough to come back to play in Pakistan," he said.
Ehsan Raza, who spent 26 days in hospital recovering from the attack and is now back to umpiring domestic matches, said the bravery of a few people saved the day for the Sri Lankan team.
"I was a bit disappointed at the words used by Match Referee Chris Broad and some umpires about the incident and our policemen. No doubt it was a horrifying incident for all of us but we should not forget the people or not give respect to those who were killed in the attack," he said.
Raza said he still carried memories of that attack as he and other match officials cramped in the van to save themselves from the hail of bullets.
"It is an incident that can change anyone's perception about life and that is what it has done for me. Now I try to enjoy life as much as I can and be more thoughtful for those close to me," he said.