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Editorials | Article | Middle | Oped

EDITORIALS

Blame-game won’t help
Pakistan must give up policy on terrorism
T
he attack by terrorists on the Sri Lanka cricket team in Lahore has once again provided proof that the their network in Pakistan remains as widespread as always. No part of Pakistan is safe from the militants’ onslaught. Despite Pakistan’s claim of having launched a drive against the home-grown terrorists, these elements still have the capacity to strike any time, anywhere.

Bears tighten grip
The economic gloom deepens
T
he Bombay Stock Exchange’s Sensitive Index (Sensex) declined to a three-year low on Tuesday and ended flat on Wednesday. This is partly because of the deepening recession, banks going under and corporates reporting lower-than-expected profits in the US and Europe. Though the Sensex has been moving downward in the past some days, the immediate trigger for the collapse was the last-minute offloading by foreign financial investors (FIIs).



EARLIER STORIES

Pak terror in sporting arena
March 4, 2009
A destabilisation game
March 3, 2009
Zardari courts trouble
March 2, 2009
In quest of a new identity
March 1, 2009
Perfect 10
February 28, 2009
Zardari vs Nawaz Sharif
February 27, 2009
Just three years?
February 26, 2009
Terrorism is un-Islamic
February 25, 2009
‘Jai Ho’, ‘Jai Ho’
February 24, 2009
Modi’s claim nailed
February 23, 2009
A question of EC’s credibility
February 22, 2009


Put off IPL
Security for elections is a priority
T
uesday’s attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore has understandably brought into focus the wisdom of holding the IPL tournament as currently scheduled in India. Doubts on holding the tournament had already begun to be raised after the Election Commission announced the schedule for the general elections last Monday.

ARTICLE

Duplicity of Pak Army
‘Strategic depth’ for the Taliban
by G. Parthasarathy
P
akistan’s politicians appear to learn nothing from their past history, when political uncertainty and lack of respect for democratic and constitutional norms and institutions inevitably led to military takeovers. Whether it was the coup staged by Gen Iskandar Mirza and Gen Ayub Khan within a decade of independence, the ouster of Bhutto after allegations of rigging national elections, or the 1999 Musharraf takeover, the political class had so thoroughly discredited itself that not a voice was raised whenever the Army’s infamous 111 Brigade moved to takeover the country.

MIDDLE

Those stormy NAAC days
by Rama Kashyap
A
s a team from NAAC (National Accreditation and Assessment Council) visited Panjab University for its assessment, I could not help remembering the stormy NAAC days in my college.

OPED

Parliament and polls
Criminals should not enter the House
by B.G. Verghese
T
he 14th Lok Sabha has concluded after a very chequered five years. The outstanding parliamentarian was the Speaker, Somnath Chatterjee, who won the affection and respect of the country for his patient objectivity, dexterous stewardship of a boisterous, fractious and not always decorous House, and his ability to maintain a sense of humour in the most trying circumstances.

Terror returns to sports
by Prabhjot Singh
A
terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in the posh Liberty market area adjoining Ghadaffi Stadium in Lahore on Tuesday has shocked the world in general and the sports fraternity in particular as this gentlemen’s game had never been on a hit list before.

So Marx was right after all
by Mark Steel
T
he sudden change is disconcerting. For years I might suggest society would be improved if we sacked these vastly overpaid bankers, and the response would be some variety of "Here he goes again".


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EDITORIALS

Blame-game won’t help
Pakistan must give up policy on terrorism

The attack by terrorists on the Sri Lanka cricket team in Lahore has once again provided proof that the their network in Pakistan remains as widespread as always. No part of Pakistan is safe from the militants’ onslaught. Despite Pakistan’s claim of having launched a drive against the home-grown terrorists, these elements still have the capacity to strike any time, anywhere. Luckily, all the Sri Lankans returned home. But, in a Mumbai-like operation, the highly trained militants succeeded in killing eight people, including six policemen, and then disappeared. Which outfit these men belong is not as important as is the fact that all 12 terrorists were Pakistani nationals, trained and armed in Pakistan. They took the advantage of utterly lax security arrangements and did what they were trained to do.

But the Pakistani authorities say, “This is clearly the work of a foreign hand”. Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani sees in the Lahore attack a “conspiracy” against Pakistan. Obviously, they have pointed the accusing finger at India. The truth, however, is that Pakistan has no dearth of “highly competent, well-armed and trained groups” capable of launching operations like that in Mumbai and Lahore. “They have no need of foreign assistance or foreign money”, as a Pakistani newspaper has commented. Indulging in blame-game will not help. The nurseries of terrorism in Pakistan continue to function uninterrupted. Instead of diverting the world attention from this ugly reality, Pakistan must seriously concentrate on eliminating the terrorists’ infrastructure, including their training camps and funding networks.

Pakistan must abandon its policy of using terrorism for realising its domestic and foreign policy objectives. Handling the scourge effectively requires a hard approach, which has been grossly missing in Pakistan so far. Entering into deals with militants, as Pakistan recently did in the Malakand-Swat region, has only complicated the crisis. These elements feel emboldened after having made the Pakistani state virtually wash its hands off the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and most parts of the NWFP. This shows that Pakistan is incapable of destroying the terrorist monster on its own. The time has come for the international community to assert to ensure that Pakistan reins in its terrorists.

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Bears tighten grip
The economic gloom deepens

The Bombay Stock Exchange’s Sensitive Index (Sensex) declined to a three-year low on Tuesday and ended flat on Wednesday. This is partly because of the deepening recession, banks going under and corporates reporting lower-than-expected profits in the US and Europe. Though the Sensex has been moving downward in the past some days, the immediate trigger for the collapse was the last-minute offloading by foreign financial investors (FIIs). The FIIs are worried about the poor economic data and declining corporate earnings, which have receded to levels last seen in 2003 when the last bull run had begun. The announcement of the Lok Sabha elections and uncertainty about the next government have also led FIIs to move out of India and park their money elsewhere.

The dismal growth figures for the third quarter ending December, 2008, and the deteriorating fiscal deficit, which has led to the downgrade of India’s currency outlook to negative by Standard and Poor’s, have contributed to the negative sentiment. The financial limitation of the Indian government to provide an effective stimulus for its sinking economy vis-a-vis China has also worked to its disadvantage. The rupee has dived to an all-time low against the dollar. As FIIs move out dollars, the RBI, it seems, has stepped back to let the rupee find its level. This is partly to help exporters, who have been hit the hardest by the global financial turmoil.

On the whole, India still remains the second fastest growing economy in the world after China. There are signs of economic activity picking up in some sectors like cement, steel and automobiles. Once political uncertainty about the next government at the Centre subsides, the worst could be behind us. The growth is widely expected to move to a higher trajectory in October. The only worry is the RBI is moving too slowly and cautiously in cutting interest rates.

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Put off IPL
Security for elections is a priority

Tuesday’s attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore has understandably brought into focus the wisdom of holding the IPL tournament as currently scheduled in India. Doubts on holding the tournament had already begun to be raised after the Election Commission announced the schedule for the general elections last Monday. But the attack on the Sri Lankan players underscores that it is in the interest of both the elections and the IPL that the international tournament is postponed and rescheduled until after the polls.

The second edition of the 45-day IPL tournament, currently scheduled to be held from April 10 to May 24, will be overlapping with the five-phase general elections. These two coinciding events will place tremendous strain on the security forces, which will have to be deployed in large numbers on election duty. The multi-million dollar T-20 tournament will involve a congregation of global cricket stars, business magnates, famous personalities and Bollywood stars which can become soft targets for terrorists. Then again, the 59 matches are to be held in nine prominent cities, all of which are considered sensitive and some of which have suffered incidents of terrorism in recent years. Whatever IPL Chairman Lalit Modi may say, India’s security concerns hardly need emphasising. In 2008 alone, there were 11 major incidents of terrorist attacks across eight states, the most serious being the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai which led to the English Cricket team temporarily suspending its tour of India.

 It would have been better if the tournament organisers had displayed greater imagination while deciding the tournament dates keeping in view that the country was to go for the polls. Mr Lalit Modi’s assurance of security during the tournament does not reflect the grim reality and challenges that will be faced by the security forces. Thus, a postponement and rescheduling of the tournament is the logical decision that will mean sufficient security for the organisers, players and fans alike.

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Thought for the Day

A robin red breast in a cage/Puts all Heaven in a rage. — William Blake

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ARTICLE

Duplicity of Pak Army
‘Strategic depth’ for the Taliban
by G. Parthasarathy

Pakistan’s politicians appear to learn nothing from their past history, when political uncertainty and lack of respect for democratic and constitutional norms and institutions inevitably led to military takeovers. Whether it was the coup staged by Gen Iskandar Mirza and Gen Ayub Khan within a decade of independence, the ouster of Bhutto after allegations of rigging national elections, or the 1999 Musharraf takeover, the political class had so thoroughly discredited itself that not a voice was raised whenever the Army’s infamous 111 Brigade moved to takeover the country.

Is Pakistan moving in this direction again, as President Asif Ali Zardari and Mr Nawaz Sharif are locked in confrontation? Where is Pakistan headed for after Mr Zardari’s refusal to restore former Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Chaudhry and the decision of a Supreme Court headed by a Chief Justice beholden to General Musharraf and Mr Zardari to declare Mr Nawaz Sharif and his brother Shahbaz ineligible to stand for elections and hold high office?

Mr Nawaz Sharif himself can have no great claims to being a stickler for constitutional propriety. Following the ouster of Benazir Bhutto in 1990 in a constitutional coup staged by then President Ghulam Ishaq Khan and Army Chief Mirza Aslam Beg, Mr Sharif led an alliance of right-wing parties, duly bankrolled by the ISI, to become Prime Minister.

During Mr Sharif’s second term as Prime Minister, goons from his ruling Pakistan Muslim League led by his Political Secretary Mushtaq Tahir Kheli stormed the Supreme Court premises on November 28, 1997, during a growing confrontation with then Chief Justice Sajjad Ali Shah. His present claims of “respect” for constitutional proprieties and independence of the judiciary are primarily motivated by his belief that, if restored, former Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry will declare General Musharraf’s actions as illegal and even seek punitive action against the former military ruler. Mr Zardari believes that if this happens, even the immunity granted to him by General Musharraf on cases of corruption could well be revoked. Pakistan’s squabbling and feudal politicians have still to learn that in political life compromise is a far better option than vendetta.

The Zardari-Sharif feud is being played out in Islamabad and in Lahore, the capital of Pakistan’s populous Punjab province, where Mr Sharif enjoys widespread support. This battle is being carried into Islamabad by lawyers across the country, demanding the restoration of Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry. They are determined to converge in large numbers on the capital. Mr Zardari’s coalition partners are uneasy over the looming confrontation and his authoritarian style of functioning is leading to tensions and differences within the ruling Pakistan People’s Party and particularly with his handpicked Prime Minister, Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani.

With Mr Gilani appearing determined to trim the President’s powers by actions like seeking to disband the National Security Council, which the President presides over, Pakistan could well see a government hamstrung by internal rivalries and challenged by a confrontational opposition. In such a situation, the army, which has recognised that years of misrule by it has resulted in public disenchantment, will remain the dominant player in shaping national security policies while gleefully allowing the politicians to discredit themselves.

These developments have led to American and international recognition that outside powers and visiting VIPs have to deal directly with Army Chief Ashfaq Pervez Kiyani while paying lip service to support for democracy in Pakistan. For India, this also means that the ability of Pakistan’s civilian interlocutors to deliver results on issues like terrorism is very limited. This becomes important now because for the first time evidence corroborated by the FBI has emerged that the Pakistan Army-controlled Special Communications Organisation was involved in developing communications facilities for the Lashkar-e-taiyaba terrorists and their handlers in Pakistan, who executed the 26/11 Mumbai carnage. It also means that given the links of senior Lashkar functionaries like operations chief Zakiur Rahman Lakhvi and communications chief and ISI liaison man Zarar Shah with the ISI and other elements in the Pakistan Army, there is little prospect of a comprehensive investigation, or transparent trial, of the real perpetrators of the carnage.

All this is taking place even as noted American commentators like journalist David Sanger have exposed the duplicity of the Pakistan military establishment, led earlier by General Musharraf and now by General Kiyani, in providing assistance and haven to Taliban leaders and informing Taliban fighters of impending American military operations. Sanger has revealed that the CIA had monitored a conversation where General Kiyani described the top Taliban military commander Jalaluddin Haqqani as a “strategic asset”.

Sanger has also described the ISI involvement in the bombing of the Indian Embassy in Kabul in July 2008. But Pakistan has paid a high price for its duplicity and the policies of successive army chiefs of seeking “strategic depth” in Afghanistan and “bleeding India with a thousand cuts,” utilising radical Islamic groups. These groups have joined hands and created a situation wherein the entire Northwest Frontier Province including the picturesque Swat valley, located barely 100 miles from Islamabad, is now under effective Taliban rule. The Durand Line, which Afghanistan has never recognised as an international border, has virtually ceased to exist. Rather than gaining “strategic depth” for Pakistan within Afghanistan, all that the Pakistan Army has ended up doing is in giving “strategic depth” to the Taliban in Pakistan!

In this volatile situation, New Delhi cannot rule out the possibility of even more terrorist strikes in the coming months. America’s prestigious Rand Corporation has carried out a detailed study authored, among others, by former US envoy to India Robert Blackwill and strategic analyst Ashley Tellis. The report notes that the objective of the Lashkar-e-taiyaba, which is dedicated to destroying what it calls a “Crusader, Zionist, Hindu Alliance”, is not merely “liberating” Kashmir but also breaking up India and promoting Hindu-Muslim tensions. The report is critical of the absence of effective coordination between agencies like the Intelligence Bureau, the RAW and state police forces while noting that the police forces across India lack the equipment and training to meet serious terrorist threats.

While the new Home Minister, Mr P. Chidambaram, has moved swiftly to deal with the mismanagement and inefficiency that his predecessor promoted in the country’s security set-up, it would be a serious mistake to underestimate the challenges India still faces from jihadi terrorism emanating from across its borders and from radicalised youth within the country. The Rand Corporation report notes, “For the foreseeable future India is likely to remain a target of Pakistan-based terrorism.” More importantly, it notes that while India understands the “costs of military action”, it should clearly understand the costs of “not responding” to terrorist outrages sponsored from across its borders.

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MIDDLE

Those stormy NAAC days
by Rama Kashyap

As a team from NAAC (National Accreditation and Assessment Council) visited Panjab University for its assessment, I could not help remembering the stormy NAAC days in my college.

Around the time when the Tsunami hit the coasts of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, a giant wave was sweeping across the institutes of higher learning in the City Beautiful. Spanned over a period of almost a year, the teams from NAAC visited Chandigarh colleges for an assessment and gradation. There was a flurry of activity in the city colleges, each trying to outdo the other. It was no less than an emergency -- there were tasks to be completed, deadlines to be met and a mission to be accomplished. The way seminars, workshops and functions were held without a breather clearly reflected a sense of urgency.

We, the teachers and the students, were caught in the NAAC storm. Marathon staff meetings were held in preparation of the visit in which hours were spent and minutes were recorded. The pre-visit discussions, stretching to hours, covered issues from important to trivial. Competitions and events were organised at a feverish pace. Students had no respite as they were herded from one activity to another. There were posters to be made, files to be completed and projects to be submitted by them.

Conscious efforts were made to project the best image of the institute. Days, nay months, were spent in preparing voluminous reports of the achievements and strengths of the colleges. Old records were dug out, alumni were traced and honoured. Quality, vision and innovative teaching-learning practices were the buzzwords. Many innovative ideas were introduced with a lot of fanfare, and ambitious schemes started with a big bang which eventually ended in a whimper.

Overnight new structures were erected. If it was the multimedia hall in one college, it was a gymnasium in the other. Cosmetic changes to give a new look to the colleges were too conspicuous to be ignored. Buildings were spruced up, walls were repainted, new furniture was added, freshly painted signboards adorned the colleges; in short, the city colleges were decked up to welcome the teams from the Accreditation Council. Clearly, the colleges were hit by the NAAC storm.

A year down the lane, everything was back to square one. It was like calm after the storm. Far from the maddening pace at which the activities had been taking place during the NAAC phase, normalcy was restored in the city colleges. Of course, there are a few reminiscences of the NAAC era. There is an imposing gate, a climbing rock here and a statue there as reminders of those stormy days.

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OPED

Parliament and polls
Criminals should not enter the House
by B.G. Verghese

The 14th Lok Sabha has concluded after a very chequered five years. The outstanding parliamentarian was the Speaker, Somnath Chatterjee, who won the affection and respect of the country for his patient objectivity, dexterous stewardship of a boisterous, fractious and not always decorous House, and his ability to maintain a sense of humour in the most trying circumstances.

The Left must be ashamed of the shabby manner in which it treated one of its own who rose above the party and ideology to serve the nation.

For the rest, the Left at least maintained good attendance, which cannot be said for too many others. The House managed no more than 332 sittings in five years, an average of 66 days per annum, with 423 hours lost to disruptions and enforced adjournments.

Many members probably spent as much time in the well of the House as on their seats, preventing transaction of any business. What encouraged them was the media publicity they received, especially through live telecasts, the most rowdy footage of which was frequently replayed.

Had they been relegated by the media and their mikes cut off, there may have been less pandemonium.

The Rajya Sabha Chairman has introduced a practice of allowing 10 members no more than three minutes each after Question Hour to raise any issue so that a controlled zero (half) is available as an outlet for pent-up anger, emotion and frustration.

This therapy seems to have worked; but the “elders” are by and large a more sober lot than their colleagues in the other House.

Equally agonising was the fact that a number of members never spoke in any discussion or even tabled a question. Others were present for no more than five to 33 per cent of the time the Lok Sabha was in session.

Much legislation lapsed for lack of time; some essential Bills were rushed through with scant discussion. Policy debates languished.

Why then do so many men and women sacrifice so much time, money and self-respect to get into the House, only to absent themselves or engage in disruptive activities when elected? Is this the quality of person whom parties should nominate even if they lack the criminal records that mark all too many MPs and MLAs?

If elected once, should those with such sorry records be nominated again? And, if nominated, should they be elected?

The national election watch network is seeking to educate voters about the record of candidates by publicising their parliamentary profiles and criminal backgrounds and has advocated negative voting – “none of the above”.

The media has a duty to make known this information and call upon such candidates to explain their conduct and interrogate political parties why they nominate such undesirable candidates.

Not that the selections are otherwise well considered, with sundry relatives of deceased legislators and film stars, sportspersons and celebrities being selected not for any contribution they might make but for their sympathy/fan-vote appeal.

A run-off vote that ensures the final winner secures half plus one of the valid votes cast would also be worth legislating for the future.

The poll campaign has started and will gather momentum now that the elections have been formally announced. The CEC retires on April 20, which will now almost inevitably fall in the middle of the poll. His unilateral plea to drop Navin Chawla, his natural successor, has rightly been set aside.

But there is merit in allowing Gopalaswami’s term to run until the elections are concluded as their “superintendence, direction and control” should be a seamless process while any change in the course of polling would be tantamount to changing umpires in the middle of a match.

This should be given serious consideration, with Chawla taking over after the polls conclude. Even otherwise, it would be advisable in the given circumstances and as a matter of policy for the Prime Minister to consult the Leader of the Opposition, the Speaker and the Chairman of the Upper House in naming the new Election Commissioner who fills Gopalaswami’s vacancy. Such a statesmanlike gesture would establish a healthy bipartisan convention without injustice to anybody.

The probability of another coalition built around the Congress or the BJP, the two dominant formations, is very likely if not inevitable. This is no reason for concern.

With the steady empowerment of the bottom rungs of an upwardly mobile Indian society, this is only to be expected and must be recognised as part of the widening and deepening of access and participation that is the hallmark of Indian democracy.

The only proviso is that the rules of engagement must change. The alliance partners should receive a fair representation in office but should not be able to dictate which individuals be selected from their ranks or their portfolios. The Prime Minister’s prerogative must reign supreme.

Threats of blackmail by smaller coalition partners could be overcome by providing that in case of defeat in a motion of confidence as a result of defections by alliance partners, the incumbent Prime Minister should be entitled to seek dissolution, a recommendation that the President should ordinarily uphold. The prospect of losing their seats and having to contest fresh elections could be a great aid to parliamentary discipline.

www.bgverghese.com

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Terror returns to sports
by Prabhjot Singh

A terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in the posh Liberty market area adjoining Ghadaffi Stadium in Lahore on Tuesday has shocked the world in general and the sports fraternity in particular as this gentlemen’s game had never been on a hit list before.

It may be the first of its type attack on cricket, yet terror has never left sports alone since the Black September of 1972 Munich Olympic Games. It is why for the sports organisers and promoters, the biggest concern has been security.

For the safety of players, the playing arena and the spectators, they have to promise security that not only draws heavily on the financial resources of the organisers but also puts the local administration or the government in a bind, keeping various law and order enforcement agencies on their toes till the event is successfully and safely concluded.

In 2004 when one of lesser affluent members of the European Community, Greece, played host to the summer Olympic games, it had a whopping several billion-dollar security plan in place.

Thirtytwo years earlier when another member of the European family, Germany, organised the summer Olympics in Munich, it witnessed one of the worst terrorist attacks in the Games history.

A Palestinian gang that left a couple of athletes dead attacked the residential block accommodating Israeli athletes and five other athletes were kidnapped.

Later, in an attempt to free the hostages, the Germans not only knocked down all terrorists but also their captives in the worst-ever tragedy in the history of sports.

In 1996, when the world’s most powerful nation, the United States, took turn in organising the biggest sporting event of the universe, the Olympics, a bombing incident at Olympic Park exposed how vulnerable “foolproof security arrangements” were. Even after 13 years, the Atlanta bombing case has evaded detection by agencies like the CIA and the FBI.

And those associated with field hockey may still be wanting to put behind the memories of the 1992 World Cup in Lahore where the Indian team used to move from its hotel to the venue of competitions under a heavy security cover.

The World Cup matches were played at the National Stadium, which is incidentally adjacent to Ghadaffi Stadium, the venue where Sri Lanka and Pakistan were playing their second Test before the attack took place.

Since anti-India feelings were at a peak at that time, the Indian tricolour was torn and burnt during World Cup matches. At times, Indian players and journalists were jostled and assaulted by those claiming allegiance to Kashmiri militants.

Playing under tremendous pressure, the Indian team could not perform to its potential. Pargat Singh, now Director of Sports, was a member of that team.

There cannot be confusion between violence witnessed during sports events and terrorist violence that thwarts sports events. Last year when China got its turn to host the Olympic Games, it demonstrated to the rest of the world how such an event can be organised without ever putting either members of the Olympic family or the spectators to any inconvenience or harassment.

If Athens had a glitch-free Games, it was at a huge cost. Some of the elite security agencies engaged for the 2004 Games advised the host Athens city to book all hotels and keep them mostly unoccupied for the duration of the games.

Only those who had booked Olympic Commit-tee-approved hotels in advance could get accommodation during the Games.

There were several instances when venues of important events were left half empty but ticket offices put up “sold out” signs.

The rest of the tickets had gone to the security agencies.

That could be one strategy where security agencies tell organisers to permit only quarantined guests and members of the Olympic family into the venue cities.

Terrorist organisations have generally avoided targeting world sporting events like Olympic Games, World Cup Soccer, other world championships and in the erstwhile British empire nations, cricket matches.

What terrorists need is publicity that, in the words of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, acts as oxygen for them. What could be a bigger and easier target than an unsuspecting audience watching a contest between two equally powerful teams or talented players in a team sport or an individual event?

In developing countries like India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh the job of sensitising a venue of sporting events from the security point of view is normally left to the local police.

Procedures commonly followed are the closing of approach roads to the venues by raising temporary barricades, setting up of special search or nakas around the venue, prohibiting spectators from carrying any handbags, transistors, cameras, eatables, water or liquids besides lathis, arms and ammunition into the venue.

Besides, the teams are escorted by contingents of crack police commandos from their place of stay to the venue. During the movement of the teams and officials, normal traffic is generally stopped en route.

Other than this visible security, some venues, especially in major towns, have now been provided with advanced invisible security gadgets, including close circuit cameras, signal jammers or interceptors to prevent or intercept communication among suspected attackers and an overall vigil over the venue through the use of helicopters and aerial cameras.

These security drills are now becoming mandatory or must for a physical attack on a venue of a sporting event. In advanced cases, security dragnet encompasses not only airports, rail and bus stations where all those heading for the venue of the games or earmarked residential areas for participants, players and officials are required to pass through metal detectors, besides getting their baggage/equipment screened through special gadgets that can detect the presence of any explosives, weapons or gadgets that can be used to harm fellow human beings.

Once cleared, the sensitised or checked members of the public are allowed to move in pre-screened vehicles, including trains, buses, motor cars, that move inside the security cleared or safe area.

Sports organisers and their consultant security agencies know that the element of surprise is with the attacker, who may be a terrorist and as such laxity for a fraction of the second is enough for him or her to strike and create terror. The attack on the Sri Lankan team in Lahore is an illustration. The failure in sensitising the route allowed free access to terrorists to strike.

India has now two major international events coming up in the union Capital next years, the World Cup Hockey Tournament and the Commonwealth Games. Security concerns have arisen after the Lahore terrorist strike. And if one looks at the capabilities of the Taliban and Lashkar-e-Toiba, Delhi is not far off from Lahore.

How we can make sports secure and safe is a massive challenge the world faces from the growing fangs of terrorism. When it will happen is anybody’s guess.

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So Marx was right after all
by Mark Steel

The sudden change is disconcerting. For years I might suggest society would be improved if we sacked these vastly overpaid bankers, and the response would be some variety of "Here he goes again".

Now if you say the same thing the response is "SACK them? I'll tell you what we should do, we should cover them in marmalade and lock them in a greenhouse full of wasps, then scour the stings with a Brillo pad. Then prick them with hedgehog spikes, smear them with fish paste and dip them in Sydney Harbour, then glue them to a pig and send them into an al-Qa'ida training camp with a letter announcing they're a work of art, never mind sack them."

Even Karl Marx himself is in vogue. Most papers have had articles about him in their business sections, commending his analysis of booms and slumps, and he was on the front page of The Times.

Soon a Times editorial will begin: "As the global downturn gathers pace, perhaps one economic remedy to be considered by our esteemed guardians is a violent workers' revolution as envisaged by Mister Karl Marx, and championed with consummate aplomb on page 32 by William Rees-Mogg."

A passage from Marx about the insatiable greed of bankers was quoted on Radio 2 one morning by Terry Wogan. For all I know he's doing it every day now, muttering: "Now here's a jolly old lesson from the old boy Karl – about those rascals of the bourgeoisie, it seems they've been robbing us blind all along and no mistake, so let's overthrow the nitwits for a bit of mischief. In the meantime this is 'Surrey with the Fringe on Top'."

Sales of Marx's Capital are at an all-time high, and this can't just be due to the current rage against characters such as Fred Goodwin and his merry bonus. It must also be because Marx fathomed that under capitalism, boom and slump would remain a perpetual cycle, as opposed to those such as Gordon Brown, who said once an hour for five years, "We have abolished boom and bust", a theory which is now in need of a minor tweak.

But Marx might be surprised at the way he usually appears in these articles, as if he was mostly an analyst, a Robert Peston of his day. As a professional analyst, Marx would have been a disaster. For example, one year after Capital was due, his publishers asked him when it would arrive and he wrote back: "You'll be pleased to know I have begun the actual writing."

But he might also dispute the idea attributed to him, that slumps make the collapse of capitalism inevitable. Because while he said SLUMPS were inevitable, he also said the outcome wasn't inevitable at all, but depended on whether the poor allow the rich to make them pay for it.

Which is to say an abridged version of the 1,100 pages of Capital would go: "I'll tell you what we should do, spray them with wildebeest odour and make them run through the Serengeti, with a commentary by Attenborough, then..."

— By arrangement with The Independent

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