If Americans don't trust Bush, why should Iran?

I was surprised by your Feb. 26 editorial, "Iran's sputnik." From Iran's point of view, the only way to protect itself from the United States is to arm itself, develop missiles and nuclear power, and perhaps even produce a nuclear bomb.

We have invaded Afghanistan and Iraq. The Iranians are no doubt afraid they could be next.

How does any country in the Middle East know which one we might invade next? How do most Americans know which one we might invade next? If we don't trust our administration, why should they?
Carol Nickels
Narberth, Pa.

Pakistan is a functioning democracy

Regarding Brahma Chellaney's Feb. 22 Opinion piece, "Musharraf's choice: president of Pakistan or dictator of 'Problemistan'?": Pakistan's elected Parliament authorized President Pervez Musharraf to retain the two offices of president and Army chief, and what is undemocratic about that?

Mr. Musharraf's government empowered Pakistani women by reserving almost 33 percent of seats for them in representative institutions at the district, provincial, and federal levels. There are very few places in the world with this level of representation for women.

The people of Pakistan have been empowered at the grass-roots level via the introduction of district governments under the president's devolution plan.

The government has done away with the system of a separate electorate for non- Muslims and introduced a joint electorate.

This government has taken a number of decisions that are contrary to the appeasement of radicals. The Women's Protection law is a recent example. The allegation that the president is keeping the extremists as a proxy is baseless and biased.

Pakistan is a functioning democracy with formidable opposition. Mr. Chellaney should witness the proceedings of the Parliament and the standards of debates. Our parliamentarians are outstanding and have global vision. They are well versed in legislative procedures. Pakistan's press is fiercely free, and there are about 40 private TV channels. (The extent of freedom can be seen by visiting the websites of the newspapers.)

Elections will be held this year that will be free, fair, and impartial. Observers from all over the world will be invited to witness the elections.
M. Akram Shaheedi
Washington Press minister, Embassy of Pakistan

College students are not indifferent

The Feb. 27article,"A closer look at higher education," reviews the book, "What's Liberal about the Liberal Arts?: Classroom Politics and 'Bias' in Higher Education," by Michael Bérubé. Mr. Bérubé writes that "college faculty communicate love of their subject to young people who are either indifferent, unprepared, or – occasionally – excited."

While I agree that college faculty have a difficult task to face every day with little pay, public recognition, or prestige, as Bérubé points out, I disagree that students are indifferent, unprepared, or only occasionally excited.

I believe that this stands for a minority of college students, whereas the vast majority of them are in college to pursue invigorating ideas and learning.

And while I recognize that apathy is a problem within our society in general, I reject the opinion that young students are indifferent.

Throughout history, colleges have been a place for anything but apathy.
Paula Meyer
Elsah, Ill.

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