- The Washington Times - Monday, September 24, 2001

Pakistan is on the side of justice

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf's address to the nation was part of his efforts to build a domestic consensus. The president had been meeting with opinion leaders from different walks of life and, on Sept 19, he took the case directly to the people of Pakistan. The president made clear that, in helping the United States find and punish the perpetrators of the despicable terrorist attacks of Sept. 11. Pakistan was acting according to Islam and was upholding the principles of righteousness. He further explained that Pakistan's supreme national interests also dictated the same path. Upon these bases, he sought the people's support for the government's decision.

It is surprising that such a clear and unambiguous message should be characterized as "mixed." Pakistan has always worked with the international community, and our present position is fully consistent with our past record of cooperation in international counterterrorism efforts. This is based on principles and not on any expectation of favors. To reiterate and to remove any doubts, Pakistan is on the side of justice.


MALEEHA LODHI

Ambassador

Embassy of Pakistan

Washington




You do a disservice to your readers by implying that Pakistan is not on board the U.S. coalition to fight terrorism. In fact I wonder if you saw the same speech that I did. President Pervez Musharraf was very explicit about whose side he was on. His only purpose in the speech was to explain his actions.

As for alleged Taliban support in Pakistan, one need only remember that all Islamic parties combined have never won more than 3 percent of the vote in Pakistan. Surely even Pat Robertson could do better.


SAAD GUL

Davidson, N.C.




It is deeply disturbing to watch the manner in which the media are covering Pakistan in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attack. Pakistan is mired in its own geopolitical realities, the constant threat of a regional superpower, and the growing strength and aggressiveness of the Taliban. At great economic, social and political cost, Pakistan sheltered thousands of Afghan refugees during the Soviet occupation and assisted the mujahedin all at the behest of the U.S. government. This is not a time to demonize an entire population as duplicitous, fanatical, crazed and fond of violence, as if to prepare the American people for further sanctions (a la Iraq), or even aggressive military action. We need our allies at this time to combat terrorism. It is unfortunate that we have confronted Pakistan a poor South Asian nation and essentially given its government the ultimatum that unless it follows the terms dictated by the U.S. government, Pakistanis will be targeted as if they were terrorists. It behooves the U.S. government to be aware of geopolitical realities elsewhere, rather than to charge forward in a narcissistic lack of concern for suffering peoples on foreign shores. Our own suffering should allow us to be empathetic toward the suffering of others.


SHABANA MIR

Alexandria

There is no reason to court a trial for bin Laden

Should we, as some have suggested, bring Osama bin Laden to trial? The undoubtedly lengthy legal process would galvanize more Islamic terrorists to kill innocent civilians. Because bin Laden is not an American citizen, a trial would not be appropriate.

Bin Laden is the leader of an organization that has been at war with America for years. His past words and murderous deeds are more than sufficient justification to annihilate him and his organization. Bringing him to trial would be a guaranteed death sentence for countless Americans.


GLENN WOICESHYN

Calgary, Alberta

River of terror runs through Bosnia

In your Sept. 18 story "Hijackers connected to Albanian terrorist cell, CIA says," you reveal valuable information about Osama bin Laden's terrorist cells based in the Balkans. It should be noted, however, that bin Laden's network in the Balkans reaches far beyond Albania.

Bin Laden has been using Bosnia-Herzegovina as his main springboard for terrorist activity in Europe. In fact, the Sarajevo magazine "Dani" reported in September 1999 that bin Laden was issued a Bosnian passport by the government of President Alija Izetbegovic in 1993, as were other Islamic terrorists wanted by Interpol, such as Mehrez Amdouni, a native of Tunisia who was arrested in Turkey in September 1999 while trying to enter the country using his Bosnian passport.

Mr. Izetbegovic's cordial relationship and close dealings with bin Laden's terrorists in Bosnia is documented on video and available on the Internet at: http://blaskic. croat.net/jihad.htm.

Mr. Izetbegovic must be tried by a U.S. court for aiding and abetting bin Laden and his associates.


MILAN PAVLOVIC

New York

First reorganize, then reopen

The Sept. 21 editorial "Reopen Reagan airport" struck a note of caution in my soul. Our country is vulnerable, and we must change our approach to how we conduct our lives.

New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani has done an outstanding job in rallying his city to support and assist those who have suffered unconscionable loss. He was also quick to state that the World Trade Center would be rebuilt as a demonstration of American resolve. Likewise, local politicians are reportedly eager to reopen Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. I believe, however, that that is a mistake.

Attorney General John Ashcroft points out that terrorism is a viable threat. And yet we seek to get back to the way things were. As understandable as that desire is, we must proceed with caution. Where once we were free, we are now restricted. It is time to evaluate options and prepare for acts of terrorism. We can greatly reduce our risk through training and planning.

In addition to military action, we must take responsibility to protect this great nation. As bomb shelters were built in the 1950s, and blackout curtains hung during World War II, we are a nation at war, a sustained and violent war that has already cost civilian casualties on American soil.

It is time for a change, a time for preparation. Fortify our cities. Re-evaluate transportation. Educate our children in safety precautions. Bolster our police and fire departments. Prepare as a nation for further outrageous acts. Once we have reorganized in such a manner, we can again be confident as a nation.


DAVID W. ROSS

Springfield

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