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[- IKRAM SEHGAL -]
Too Close to Call!

US Presidential Elections 2004 takes place today, Tuesday Nov 2. By tomorrow morning (that is if the many law suits in several US States being planned by whichever Party loses doesn't hold up the results) the world will know whether incumbent George W Bush Jr retains the Presidency or has succumbed to the challenge of Senator John Kerry. What a difference a year makes! This time last year the Democratic Party was down and out. The race for the Democratic Presidential nomination being so open, as many as nine aspirants took the Primary route. The early running had Governor Howard Dean of Vermont in the lead. While he aroused the imagination of the youth, “liberal” is unfortunately a bad word with a majority of Americans, the left constitutes only a vocal, heavily out-numbered minority....more

Understanding Terrorism

There is a lot of rhetoric in Pakistan, as indeed in the world, about the need to fight terrorism, yet how much do we understand how terrorism germinates in society, how it is incubated and then proliferates? There is a dire need to study the root causes, and effects, of terrorism. Without a clear understanding of these, one can put out small fires here and there, but can we stop the conflagration from spreading? For several centuries muslims have not only been oppressed but since the 19th century they have been increasingly brutalized. People living in terror eventually react in kind because in the recent past most terrorism is perceived to have emanated from muslim causes, it is important that we analyze these dispassionately....more

Kashmir

In the most significant policy initiative for any Pakistani leader since independence in 1947, Gen Pervez Musharraf seemingly abandoned Pakistan's long-standing demand for a plebiscite, something enshrined in the UN Security Council Resolution on Kashmir. In a major speech to media bigwigs recently, the President encouraged both India and Pakistan to move away from their oft stated positions for the sake of peace in South Asia. India's response has been rather cool, saying such negotiations should be confidential and through diplomatic channels rather than being debated in the media. Pakistan's major departure of policy, coming from a soldier, is a 180-degree change of direction in the Army's thinking. While recognizing the harsh ground realities, this is certainly a courageous move to settle this outstanding dispute with India, one has to agree with the India's contention that using other than quiet diplomatic channels is a risky proposition. On the other hand what about the personal risk the President is taking domestically for having dared to touch a national sacred cow? Musharraf has thrown down the gauntlet to friend and foe alike, both domestically and externally. On the one hand friends have been told line up and be counted or be counted out, on the other hand enemies have been provoked to come up with a better alternative to solve this bloody impasse. Above all, India has been challenged to respond with ideas of their own to untangle the proverbial Gordian knot over Kashmir....more

Preparing for Fallujah

The city of Fallujah has a population of around 300000, with about 150000 crammed into the core of the fairly modern city. Within the so-called Sunni Triangle, Fallujah and Ramadi have been in the hands of Iraqi insurgents since the collapse of the Saddam Regime, the well-known terrorist Al-Zarqawi has been carrying well-documented terrorist activity from within the city's confines. An attempt by US Marines to clear the city of insurgents was aborted in April this year for reasons other than military, it left the Marines frustrated and angry at the seeming political interference. The expert opinion was that the US Marines would have to finish the job at a later date, with a commensurate increase in casualties. From sporadic attacks against stray targets, the insurgents have become increasingly bolder. Not only they have taken hostages but have executed them if their demands were not met, they have also carried out a number of suicide bomb and mortar/rocket attacks within the so-called “Green Zone” in Baghdad, the HQs of the US and Coalition Command in Iraq....more

The Fallujah Battle

Situated on the eastern bank of the Euphrates, Fallujah is bound by the desert on all sides. Two bridges connect the city to the peninsula on the west bank of the river, where the city's major hospital is located. A railway line is its northern boundary, the railway station is located to the northwest just outside the city. A north-south road is the intersection between the Jolan (northwest) and Askari (northeast) Districts, US intelligence sources reported where that most of insurgents are dug into these two districts, no surprise therefore where most of the initial fighting has taken place. Route 10, an east-west road dividing Fallujah from the North to the mostly industrialized south, this was largely reported to be free of insurgents before the fighting....more

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