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Security

At the palace, he was given refreshments and told to wait in a room. Would he be deported, the Sudanese wondered' Or jailed'

After a couple of hours, a palace official emerged. The official gave the Sudanese the keys to a brand new Mercedes. It was to be his. A gift from the President.

Neither of these incidents has been reported. The press in both Dubai and Abu Dhabi, which is ‘guided’ by the authorities, was, in fact, told not to report.

Neither Shaikh Zayed nor Shaikh Mohamed needs the publicity. They don’t have to win elections.

It happens in India, too, but rarely. Many years ago, as this correspondent was coming out of a building in Mumbai’s Malabar Hill, there was quite a scene. A policeman had stopped a Maharashtra minister’s car with all its official paraphernelia for jumping a red light. The minister’s gunman argued with the policeman.

The minister’s staff cajoled him. But the policeman stood his ground. He had the police commissioner’s orders to book any car that ignored the red light, he said. And unlike in Calcutta this week, the policeman was not pulled out of his duty.

In Washington, public officials, howsover important, are denied access if they fall foul of security requirements. Their cars are towed away — at the owner’s cost — if they have no stickers.

Last year, while covering Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s visit to Moscow, this correspondent saw Russian foreign minister Igor Ivanov come out of a Kremlin building. Ivanov wanted to go back in through a different entrance. He was subject to the same checks that members of the media had to go through. In the age of terror, the only way to ensure security is to follow the law to its last letter.

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