For democracy in Pakistan, try provincial elections
In response to Walter Rodgers's Dec. 27 Opinion piece, "What's holding Pakistan back": This essay has given an accurate assessment of Pakistan's difficulty in evolving into a democracy.
I believe that countrywide elections at this point would not help Pakistan become a stable democracy. However, there is an alternative. Let the elections be held on the provincial level, one province at a time, widely spaced out in time.
If Punjab were to be the first state, it is very likely that a responsible provincial government would emerge in a short time. This province has a large middle class and relatively well-educated populace with a progressive outlook.
Punjab could serve as a model for other provinces, and orderly elections could then be held in each one in a pragmatic sequence.
Democracy cannot be imposed from the top, however idealistic leaders might be; it has to grow from deep down. Orderly provincial elections have the best chance of bringing badly needed democracy to Pakistan.
G. K. Vemulapalli
The Mideast needs religious dialogue
Regarding the Dec. 20 article, "Can religion improve peace prospects in the Middle East?": Religious leaders coming together for peace is a good augury for 2008. Sixty years is too long for a war of attrition where there is no ultimate winner. The innocent of all religions suffer and fall in such conflicts. Peace is more important than politics here. It is time for more Christian, Jewish, and Muslim leaders to join in and give a thrust to this movement.
Help farmers grow capital
In response to the Dec. 27 article, "A teenager plows new ground": I suggest that Andrew Orr consider issuing an initial public offering (IPO) on the future earnings of his farm. Given the public interest in his farming career, doing so should raise working capital for Mr. Orr and give his investors a sense of participation in his future success.
We cannot all be farmers, but we can get behind those who are and help to get them started.
An alternative to Amtrak
In response to the Dec. 24 article, "Successful train, uncertain future": This article explains very well the passenger rail transportation problem in the United States. Value and convenience should be the keys to deciding issues. In the case of rail, Amtrak is low value no matter how much Amtak tries to justify its existence.
As the article says, buses operate at a profit. Buses are flexible and can go anywhere there are roads, which are shared by everyone including freight that is needed by all communities.
However, a driverless elevated monobeam-monorail can provide better service at lower cost and with more convenience than Amtrak. The Owen Transit Group monobeam, the Silver Bullet, can travel up to 200 m.p.h. And the monobeam power system is protected from snow and ice.
Contrary to the remark that "there is virtually no discussion of what kind of intercity rail this country needs," there is and has been much discussion on the Web. The rest of the world is building and is planning to build more monorail systems.
G. Stanley Doore
Silver Spring, Md.
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