Pakistan's Prime Minister Is Sending Contradictory Messages to the US
Benazir Bhutto, Prime Minister of Pakistan, has criticized the United States and the West for having trained warriors to fight the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the name of Islamic holy war, and then having withdrawn hastily when the Soviet forces withdrew from Afghanistan (''Two Shootings in Karachi,'' March 22). The same Ms. Bhutto and other Pakistanis have repeatedly criticized the regime of Mohammed Zia ul-Haq for having sought American help during the Afghan war.
Now Bhutto, only a few days after her criticism of the American policy of arming the so-called Muslim militants during the Afghan war, turns to the Americans and pleads with them ''to carry out the entire cleansing operation'' in Pakistan. Here is the prime minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, who took a solemn oath when she became prime minister to promote the Islamic ideology in Pakistan, pleading with the Americans to help her deal with the problem of Islamic militancy.
As a democratic leader with the support of the Pakistan People's Party behind her, is it not her duty to use the party as a means to bring about constructive change among her people so that they focus their energies on community-building projects instead of indulging in senseless sectarian killings?
Khalid Bin Sayeed, Kingston, Canada
Professor Emeritus, Political Studies
It's demographic change, not climatic
The article ''Insurance Firms Ask If Global Warming Swells Disaster Rate,'' March 29, suggests that climatic change is the primary culprit in the escalating insurance losses associated with hurricanes. The primary cause, however, of multibillion dollar losses is not a change of climate, but a change of demography. Hurricane Andrew, which devastated southern Dade County, Fla., in 1992, was the most expensive hurricane to strike the United States (though not the most deadly). The $17 billion of insured losses had nothing to do with climate change, but everything to do with the urban development in Dade County.
The insurance industry should look at its business practices, as opposed to focusing on the academic scientific discussion of climate change. Although industry representatives may be tempted to resign themselves to the thesis of global warming, they will save their institutions' money only by coming to terms with the overdevelopment and overinsurance of dangerous coastal properties.
Dean D. Churchill Miami
Assistant Professor of Meteorology
and Physical Oceanography
University of Miami
The article fails to mention another important reason for the increase in severity of recent disasters. As the article points out, 21 out of the 25 largest catastrophes in the United States, in insured terms, have occurred in the last decade. What is missed is that our own human population is also exploding at an unprecedented rate. This has myriad effects that increase the severity of a natural disaster, from simple increases in population densities to building on land once considered unsuitable for habitation. The continued loss and destruction of our natural environment only exacerbates this trend when we replace it by acres of man-made structures.
Besides the obvious connection with an increase in global warming, the population explosion ensures that when natural disasters do occur, they will continue to be the most costly, deadly disasters.
Ted Tanner, Paradise, Calif.