At the heart of India-Pakistan relations
Your May 8 editorial "Breaking ice in South Asia" correctly appreciates the thaw in the cold war between India and Pakistan, but on two counts your perspective is off the mark. First, India's defense posture in general, and nuclear program in particular, is Pakistan-specific. One only needs to look at the deployment and posture of Indian conventional and strategic forces to ascertain this fact. Furthermore, the current deployment and ranges of Indian missile systems place all of Pakistan within striking distance, while China is nowhere on India's strategic horizon. Second, India's problems in the disputed territory of Jammu and Kashmir are not simply an exogenous phenomenon, but are of its own making. One only needs to study the findings of international and Indian human rights organizations to verify what has been happening since 1989.
Blaming Pakistan is a convenient excuse for decades of denial and severe suppression of the fundamental and civil rights of the predominantly Muslim population of Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir.
Press Attaché, Embassy of Pakistan
Your May 8 editorial suggests that Pakistan should halt terrorist infiltration into Indian territory as a confidence-building measure. Indeed, Pakistan must permanently end its support of the terrorist groups afflicting Kashmir for any peace effort to stand a chance.
But the key is for the US to apply strong pressure on Gen. Pervez Musharraf to make that happen. Despite his promise to crack down, General Musharraf has avoided taking meaningful measures in that direction. Banned terrorist groups have reappeared under different names. Their arrested leaders have been released with no cases against them. Some have even found their way into the parliament. This time around, the US must insist that Musharraf follows through.
Without a compete and permanent halt to Pakistan-supported terrorism, peace talks are destined to end in failure.
Draconian drug laws
Regarding Idea's "Soundings" May 8 column "A hard time for a hard line": I was a first-time nonviolent offender who served 12 years of a sentence of 15 years to life under the Rockefeller drug laws of New York State. I was granted clemency by Gov. George Pataki in 1997.
Since then, I have fought tooth and nail to change these laws. They are draconian and waste tax money and human lives. For the first time in 28 years, a governor of New York was bold enough to call for reform. Soon after, the Assembly and Senate echoed the call to relax the laws. Two years later, on their 30th anniversary, these laws still exist. Human beings are wasting away while the strengths and weaknesses of proposed changes to the laws are argued. Why can't we find common ground and finally repeal laws that have been shown to be ineffective and costly?
Daniel Schorr's May 9 Opinion column "Iraq down, what's the encore?" strikes me as very flippant - as if war is some kind of performance. War is too serious a business for this kind of frivolous play. Regarding Mr. Schorr's final question about North Korea: "How do you confront an 'outlaw regime' that already has nuclear weapons?" That question is being asked worldwide, but more than just North Korea, it's probably the US that is worrying the world. As American citizens, we need to confront the dangers posed by our own nuclear weapons first and foremost. Then we can look at others.
Temple City, Calif.
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