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Archive for February, 2003

Jihad Against Terrorism

The beginning of the 21st century has seen advances in science and technology force-multiplying terror as a deliberate creation of man. Terror was previously the domain of the unknown, the perception was that of animals in the jungle and of spirits in the night. High-tech equipment rapidly becomes obsolete as sophisticated terrorists innovate circumventing of their potency. What to talk about individuals and communities, entire nations can be held hostage to terror, case in point presently the mightiest nation on this earth, the US of A. Terrorism is a potent weapon for those who lack numbers and weaponry, money may be important but innovation overcomes that deficiency. The targetting of soft targets put forces of law and orders initially in disarray because of the variation in the threat perception, the level and mode thereof. Organized criminal activity desires anarchy i.e. the collapse of the State’s machinery. The international terrorist has a far bigger canvas, the collapse of world order as is evident from the present dangerous split in the UN Security Council and NATO. The globalization of terrorism makes it difficult to counter terrorism, dominating it altogether is almost impossible. Countries without resources must depend upon each other for precise sharing of intelligence, denial of funds, sanctuaries and/or supply of weapons/equipment to terrorists as well as promptly addressing requests for extradition. On the negative side, countries like India are using the bogey of terrorist groups as either surrogates or motivated propaganda to achieve their own motivated objectives against adversary States like Pakistan, India has now started targeting Bangladesh also.

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Strategic Options

It was not comfortable being either an American or a Pakistani, for widely differing reasons, in Davos this year. The World Economic Forum (WEF) is normally a love-fest, antagonism is almost never aired in the aura of optimism that is normally prevalent. Because of the aversion of most Europeans towards war in Iraq, Americans (constituting a fair percentage of the 1500 persons attending WEF) found themselves in defensive mode even though the much-respected US Secretary of State Colin Powell made an eloquent case for war to topple Saddam Hussain. While one is used to Indians reacting in an offensively defensive manner to our bringing Kashmir on the table, this year the Indians took a back seat orchestrating a world consensus against Pakistan’s very existence as a responsible member of the comity of nations. Speaker after speaker recommended coordinated action against Pakistan’s nuclear potential, there was no fig leaf of innuendo anymore. The straightforward allegation put us in the business of exporting terrorism. The general consensus was that Pakistan’s nuclear facilities were a potential threat to the world, the premise being that if Musharraf was overthrown, the 650000-man Pakistan Army would be overwhelmed by “200000 dedicated Jehadis”. Instead of waiting to be subjected to “nuclear terrorism” their convoluted logic was that the world would be far better off launching a pre-emptive strike against Pakistan, even in priority to Iraq! These were no ordinary persons, they happen to be the world’s top leaders in government, business, academics, etc the elite of the elite! More depressing was to see the blissful ignorance we are living in on returning from Davos. This country is in a state of permanent Basant, God help us!

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Likely War Scenario

If the US-led Coalition fails to scare Saddam out of Iraq by the sheer build up of forces on his doorstep, bluff will become a reality! Before the moonless period sets in on March 2, a barrage of about 3000 cruise missiles launched in a space of 48 hours by ships and aircraft will hit Iraqi command and control centres, radars and communications sites, suspected chemical and biological warfare production centres, Scud missile sites, Republican Guard concentrations, Baath Socialist Party HQs, etc.

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Army Promotions

A GHQ Selection Board for promotion from Brigadier to Major General, headed by the President and COAS Pakistan Army Gen Pervez Musharraf, recently recommended 26 officers for promotion. Four of the Brigadiers belong to the Army Medical Corps (AMC),without graduating from the Pakistan Military Academy (PMA) Kakul as the other 22 would have done their promotion (or otherwise) would hardly have any influence on the mainstream Army. According to official sources, 805 Gentleman Cadets (GCs) were granted commission in 1975/1976, (52nd PMA Long Course, 53rd and part of 54th), of these officers 119 made it to the rank of Brigadier, i.e. almost 15%. Less than 3% of the original intake made it to two-star rank.

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Return to Davos

In a profound gesture of solidarity for the horrific terrorist atrocity of 9/11, the 2002 World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting, was held in New York. While the WALDORF was hospitable, the DAVOS nostalgia could only come back with the return of the 2003 WEF Annual Meeting to its usual “Congress Center” haunt. 2002 saw apprehensions (inspite of globalization) between communities and nations develop into suspicion. Appropriately the Theme this year was “Building Trust”. In setting the parameters for the Summit, Managing Director WEF (former President of Costa Rica) Jose Maria Figueres and Thierry Malleret, Director WEF put restoring confidence in the future as the most important leadership challenge today. Corporate leadership had to cope with the hangover from the boom years, involving managing of overcapacity, benefitting from industry consolidation and adapting to the new corporate governance standards, all this while navigating through a difficult economic and political climate.

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