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[- IKRAM SEHGAL -]
Learning Pragmatism at Davos

A day before the start of the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) at Davos, the world's economic equilibrium was shaken by stocks falling across the board from Hong Kong to New York. It required an unprecedented cut in lending rates by the US Federal Reserve (the Fed) to shore up the world's badly shaken markets. Whether the recovery can be sustained is still in the future. The world's elite in commerce, finance and manufacturing were sombre but did not show apprehension of an imminent recession. Economic apocalypse did rear its ugly head frequently during discussions in panel after panel, all the economic geniuses who were proved thoroughly wrong neither showed any remorse nor for that matter, act sheepish.....more

National Compromise

The country seems transfixed into immobility on the rail tracks by the on-rushing lights of an express freight train in the form of Feb 18 elections. President Pervez Musharraf and his supporters are standing on one side of the tracks while the Opposition political parties are on the other. From time to time suicide bombers remind us the situation can become far more explosive. Neither is prepared to blink first i.e. any move by either to save Pakistan from the approaching disaster will be taken as a sign of weakness by the other.
A recent meeting with the President during this hour of crisis only highlighted the country's Catch-22 situation. The meaning of "dictator" does describe Musharraf in the technical sense, and yet does not do justice to him. Fully aware of the impending law and order, economic and political problems, he willingly entered into a responsive exchange without "shooting the messenger bringing bad tidings".....more

Learning Security Lessons

While the public memory remains fresh what better example to illustrate the predicament of security forces and those they protect than the brutal assassination of our charismatic Ms Benazir Bhutto? The Oct 18 blast only underscored this was a tragedy waiting to happen, unfortunately it was not used as a wake-up call for both the protectors and the protected. A correct analysis of some of the security lapses that led to (and including) Dec 27 could mean the difference in the future between life and death for others. One most concede that it is extremely difficult to reconcile the requirements of a political campaign with the security protection that is a must for potential target of assassins. Security is not an exact science, it is becoming increasingly difficult to cope with motivated attacks. With the advent of the suicide bomber, deterrence has become exponentially more difficult for VIPs, almost impossible in providing any protection for innocent bystanders.....more

A Trilogy of Crisis

While the situation in Pakistan circa 2008 is not quite comparable with the situation in 1971, those who rule Pakistan today as well as those who aspire to rule tomorrow must keep in mind the consequences of obdurate refusal to compromise even when catastrophe was staring us in our faces. Most of our problems in 1971 were domestic and self-created, India took geo-political advantage by militarily force-multiplying the self-destruction process along. The domestic political crisis of today is caught in the crossfire of geo-political upheaval in the region as well as impending world recession, these will deepen the dimensions of our internal sorrows. Above all, the Pakistan Army, the prime guarantor of our integrity and sovereignty, needs to come to terms with its national identity and adjust/reconcile itself to its role thereof.....more

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