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Archive for June, 2006

The Demise of Objectivity

The fag end of the 20th century saw freedom of the Press run on a fail-safe line in many first world countries. One of the major casualties of the 21st Century is objectivity in (and of) the media. Objectivity for the most part remains an endangered species in third world countries run by authoritarian rule, raising its head as an aberration for brief periods. Paraphrasing Mark Twain, while the rumours of its demise (in the free world) are greatly exaggerated, there are increasing signs that the media torch the Viet Nam generation lit in the US in the 60s and early 70s has come a full circle. In the wake of 9/11 the conservatives who tried to muzzle the free media in the US in the 50s using the bogey of communism (McCarthyism) are now increasingly active again. In the late 20th Century, Fox TV would have gone bankrupt with its hard rightist stance, today one of Fox’s leading anchors has become the US President’s Press Secretary.

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The Zarqawis Among Us

With accurate intelligence locating Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and some of his aides in a hut in Baquba, US aircraft successfully targeted the most wanted terrorist in Iraq with two 225 Lbs bombs. Zarqawi did not die immediately after the bombing, the 45 minutes leading to his actual death raised a minor controversy. Zarqawi was no intellectual he was simply an operator, made larger than life by media propaganda. In death, the murderous uneducated Jordanian remains very much the man of controversy he was in real life, the tragedy is that as a martyr he will inspire others to more insane acts of terrorism, atrocities not excluded.

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Corporate Governance

“Corporate Governance” came into universal lexicon only in the 1970s, high profile corporate failures in the developed economies in the early 1990s making the use more common. Framing of the code in Pakistan in March 2002 had decided impact on the way companies are presently being governed. The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), in partnership with International Finance Corporation (IFC) and Pakistan Institute of Corporate Governance (PICG), hosted a one-day conference on “Corporate Governance in Banks” for Board Members, Presidents and senior executives of Banks and DFIs, to apprise them of the rationale and approach of Board of Directors in implementing “Good Corporate Governance”. Presided over by the Governor SBP Ms Shamshad Akhtar, this welcome initiative brought home to the participants the parameters of their corporate job descriptions and the modus operandi for executing their responsibilities. Suggestions and reservations proliferated in the inter-active Session. Dr Ishrat Hussain, the previous Governor SBP, may be a difficult act to follow, it was refreshing to see the new lady on the block not only confidently handling things in an adroit and knowledgeable manner, but holding her own in her own right. The SBP baton has been passed onto safe hands!

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Mitigating Effects of Migration

The venue for a meeting of the Business Advisory Board (BAB) of the International Organization of Migration (IOM) at Cairo was an inspired choice. Thanks to Shafik Gabr, indefatigable Chairman of ARTOC, Egypt, the BAB Meeting was held in the Egyptian capital a few days before the Middle East Regional meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) at Sharm El Sheikh, a resort at the southern-most tip of the Sinai Desert. No ordinary businessman, Shafik Gabr is a world player and a pro-active one at that, someone who has put Egypt on the economic map by organizing the impressive WEF at Sharm El Sheikh. I wonder if either the Egyptian Government or the business community appreciates the full value of the force-multiplication of their potential by Shafik’s individual efforts.

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