Letters

Two sides of the same Pakistan-India coin

Regarding Selig Harrison's Sept. 9 Opinion piece "India comes first in US-Pakistan ties": The author views US ties with South Asian countries from a zero-sum perspective. Any improvement in Pakistan-US relations is perceived as a loss for India.

No wonder there are now "alarm bells" at the reestablishment of a Pakistan-US Defense Consultative Committee that had existed for many years, and became dormant only during the post-1998 sanction years. India itself has such a group with the US that has recently been revived subsequent to the lifting of the sanctions.

Second, Mr. Harrison's approach is alarmist in respect to Pakistan, and apologetic with regard to India. He sees danger in the modest sale of transport planes to Pakistan, but conveniently ignores India's relentless buying sprees of offensive weapons.

Recommended: 6 signs of hope in Pakistan

Finally, Harrison is wrong in suggesting that Pakistan's support in the war on terrorism could somehow be bought for aid. President Musharraf in his address at Harvard University stated that Pakistan's commitment to fight terrorism stems from "our moral principles and national interests."

The view expressed by Harrison amounts to insulting a proud people and doing a disservice to Pakistan-US relations.
Sohail Mahmood
Washington Political Counselor, Embassy of Pakistan

Regarding Selig Harrison's Opinion piece "India comes first in US-Pakistan ties": A just solution to the continuing strife within South Asia is imperative to the equilibrium of global security.

I agree that we must fully pressure Gen. Pervez Musharraf by pursuing pragmatic policies that will lead to the reestablishment of democratic institutions within Pakistan. His recent usurping of the Pakistani Constitution does nothing to further democratic ideals in Pakistan. As Americans, we need to focus on Pakistan's emerging democracy.

However, India has its fair share of shortcomings in the international arena. Let us not forget that during the cold war Pakistan categorically aligned itself with the United States, while India made no secret in siding with the Russians.

To have peace in South Asia, we must look at both sides of the coin.
Arsalan Tariq Iftikhar
St. Louis
Midwest Communications Director, Council on American-Islamic Relations

In regard to "India comes first in US-Pakistan ties," Selig Harrison clearly outlines America's long-term interest in improving ties with India, based on shared values of democracy and free-market economy.

What Pakistan needs is a stimulus to its economy and education system, not its military.

Nalini Chervala
Sunnyvale, Calif.

Learning about others' experiences

Thank you for "Focus of US fear: A legal refugee is recast as enemy" ("Lives Changed," Sept. 5). The Kurds have been the butt of discrimination and attacks by other countries for generations, and we simply continued that discrimination with no justification.

I was grateful to find a story in your series that does not wave the US patriotic flag. As a US citizen, originally a World War II bride from England, I've traveled for work to the Middle East as well as many other countries and have worked for years with indigenous people in the US and Canada. I am well aware of, and sensitive to, the enormous amount of ignorance among the majority of the population in the United States about cultures other than its own.
Judith Schmidt
Washington, Maine

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