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Archive for May, 2007

100 Years – Cuba To Iraq

The Spanish American War of 1898 represented the very first time that the US intervened outside the North American Continent. As a consequence of success in Cuba and the Philippines, and the very first experience at annexation and as an occupying power, the US established a naval presence abroad, with bases in the Philippines, Hawaii, Guam, Cuba etc. In 1903 US leased out Gauntanamo Bay from Cuba. Korea should have taught US the hard lesson that land wars are not winnable in Asia, yet Vietnam followed not more than a decade later. The lessons of the killing fields of South East Asia had been taken to heart, the temptation to return the favour of a proxy war because of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan could hardly be ignored. No logic was applied before entering Iraq in 2003, even worse there is no exit strategy from the cauldron even in 2007.

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Corporate Governance

One of the better initiatives of the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) is to encourage financial institutions to adhere to the “Code for Corporate Governance“ framed in 2002. While SBP is mostly concerned with monitoring financial institutions, the code is applicable for all corporate entities. The most tangible step has been the establishment of the “Pakistan Institute of Corporate Governance” (PICG). Appointing Zahid Zaheer, a respected senior corporate executive of proven great ability and experience as its Head showed positive intent and seriousness of purpose. Hopefully PICG will train independent directors structured corporate responsibility, and they in turn will translate this into ensuring viz (1) a fair return for the investors and (2) a merit-oriented professional environment for all the employees.

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Dusting The Cupboard

When Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry (CJP) launched his judicial activism soon after he took over as CJP, he could have never dreamed that this activism, with himself as a symbol of that activism, would one day catch the imagination of the streets of the country. Credit for his growing momentum must be given to the bunch of incompetent Presidential advisers who have outdone each other in creating the problems and then stoking them by repeated blunders. In fact they have managed an impossible feat, combining the lawyers community all over the country with the media in an anti-Musharraf front, and now because of their repeated faux pas, mobilizing the ultimate support, from the man in the street. The CJP has now become the focal point for the aspirations and the frustrations of a vast majority of the populace, diverse individuals and groups with vastly differing reasons have joined the campaign to oust the present government. The human sacrifice of Mohammad Ali Durrani to the mob rampaging will not do, this ultimate in sycophancy is not a good enough political morsel. While for some it is only a personal vendetta against Pervez Musharraf, the intelligentsia and masses have greater ambitions, they want a fulfillment of promises of the freedoms envisaged by our founding fathers on the birth of Pakistan.

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At The Crossroads

The welcome for the Chief Justice (CJ) of Pakistan Mr Iftikhar Chaudhry along the GT Road was unprecedented, clearly the common man who had remain quite aloof from the weeks of protests by lawyers all over the country had now started to join the fray, whether he will engage in earnest only the next few weeks will tell. This will also be directly proportional to the ham-handedness of the ruling party’s administrative minions. The protest was emotional and intense, certainly those who waited for over 24 hours in the car park of the Lahore High Court registered vociferous opposition to one-man rule, these constituted for the most part lawyers.

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When Tigers Become Maneaters

Karachi became a battleground on Saturday May 12, 2007, for a few frightening hours the citizens got a bloody taste of Baghdad and Beirut becomes when perpetrators of senseless violence take over the streets of the city. Everyone is casting blame on each other, and they are not wrong, all of us are culpable in our own ways. The tragedy that ensued is a severe indictment of the government for abdicating its responsibilities in not deploying the forces of law and order, the political parties used the occasion callously to further their own political objectives even when anarchy was looming in their faces and finally the lawyers persisted with the CJ’s Karachi procession despite ominous signs that it would cost lives, and that too mostly of innocents. There was a moral obligation for all to heed independent warnings of imminent violence. The government lost considerable moral authority in not enforcing their writ for hours, the hands-off policy seemed deliberately designed to aggravate the situation for a single purpose, prevent the CJ’s cavalcade from riding into town.

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Accountability And Bangladesh

Within days of his Oct 12, 1999 takeover, Pervez Musharraf established the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in Pakistan to ferret out the corrupt of the past and fight endemic corruption in the present. The culprits whoever they were would be held accountable, the money they had looted would be recovered. NAB mission statement has since been compromised, viz (1) partly because of political exigencies of the continuity of Musharraf’s rule but (2) mostly by the “plea bargaining” pretext used to let dozens of white-collar criminals walk free. This loophole in the regulations governing anti-corruption became a “highway” for corruption, with the accused and the accusers both comfortable in a corrupt embrace that undermined the whole concept of accountability as envisaged by Musharraf when launching NAB. The simple formula for those failing to reimbursing the govt exchequer with the looted money is to throw away the keys of the jail cell.

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