- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 20, 2007

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Pakistan’s sacrifices

Arnaud de Borchgrave disregards the more than 1,000 Pakistani soldiers killed fighting the Taliban and al Qaeda (“Musharraf meltdown?” Commentary, Monday). The country remains committed to standing against the tide of militancy and to frustrating the ideology of Talibanization that the overwhelming majority of Pakistanis consider a symbol of regression and repression, and above all is against the spirit of Islam. The ideology of Pakistan, on the other hand, envisions Pakistan as an Islamic democratic state in harmony with itself and with the rest of the world.

The assertion that two Waziristans are under the occupation of Taliban is a mere conjecture because substantial presence of military and civilian establishments in the area belies the claim. No doubt Pakistani troops have also suffered casualties mainly to avoid collateral damages. At the same time, militants have also suffered heavy death tolls during the counterterrorism operations launched by the Pakistan army.

Winning the war against terror is critical and Pakistani people and its armed forces are determined to win this war because it is in our own interest than the interest of other nations. Pakistan has been up against terrorism and extremism since before September 11 and claims of surrogating for the United States are misplaced and as such untenable. This is important to understand before resorting to maligning the country.

Pakistan’s nuclear arsenals are safe, and there is no question of their slipping into the hands of extremists as our command and control authority, an apex body headed by the president of Pakistan and responsible for policy formulation, stipulates such an institutional arrangement that guarantees the safety and security of our nuclear assets in absolute terms.

M. AKRAM SHAHEEDI

Press minister

Embassy of Pakistan

Washington

Name that enclave

John Forster wants to go back two centuries to solve the District’s lack of voting representation in Congress (“A flawed voting-rights bill,” Letters, Tuesday).

Why should the citizens of Maryland want their representation diluted by people who have elected crooks and incompetents by the dozen?

Mr. Forster says, “It is worth noting that the residents of all other federal enclaves vote in the federal elections of the state from which that enclave was carved.” I seem to have missed something in the last 70 years. Would Mr. Forster be so kind as to name those other enclaves and the states from which they were carved?

DARREL SALISBURY

Lorton, Va.

Rail competition

To paraphrase Ronald Reagan from the 1980 presidential debates: There they go again. The railroad industry is once again trying to sell the argument that any change in existing federal rail policy is “re-regulation.” It is surprising that The Washington Times bought it so readily (“Rail ties,” Editorial, Saturday). What’s even more astounding is that The Times believes that those who advocate robust market competition don’t support “conservative” principles.

Currently, the railroad industry enjoys broad federal government protections from liberal antitrust exemptions to the all-too-cozy relationship with its would-be regulator, the Surface Transportation Board that are both unfair and unnecessary, especially at a time when railroads are making record profits and buying back their own stock.

The nation can no longer afford policies that insulate the monopoly railroads from competition. In what is only the most recent example of industry excess, the nation’s largest freight railroads were found to have systematically overcharged their customers by more than $6.4 billion over four years by collecting excessive fuel surcharges. The feckless Surface Transportation Board found the practice unreasonable but offered no recourse for recovery; so those costs were then borne by consumers.

While The Washington Times might not recognize the scope of the rail problem, it is apparent that Congress is beginning to understand. A growing list of bipartisan cosponsors, including Rep. Ron Paul, Texas Republican, support legislation introduced by House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman James L. Oberstar, Minnesota Democrat, to remove federal protections and treat the freight rail industry like other American businesses. By supporting the Railroad Competition and Service Improvement Act, members of Congress can take a stand in defense of free markets and what most consider to be conservative principles.

GLENN ENGLISHChairmanConsumers United for Rail EquityCEO

National Electric Rural Cooperatives Association

Arlington

JACK GERARD

Vice chairman

Consumers United for Rail Equity

President and CEO

American Chemistry Council

Arlington

‘Connecting the dots’

The article “Grassley hits data-sharing failure” (Nation, Monday) is misleading and it’s the second time that facts have been blurred on this story. Attempts to respond with facts were disregarded.

The article alleges that information was purposely withheld from the inspector general. That’s untrue. Comments attributed to an attorney for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) were taken from draft documents prepared for the inspector general. The employee was counseling that any supporting information be gathered for the inspector general. The documents further indicate that there’s no evidence of a failure to share information within the department.

Tearing down barriers to information sharing was a core September 11 commission finding. The inspector general noted in November 2005 that USCIS was addressing challenges. It now has roles on various law enforcement and national security working groups.

There’s more distance to go, but there should be no uncertainty about the progress made in connecting the dots.

RUSS KNOCKE

Deputy Assistant Secretary for Media Relations and

Press Secretary

Department of Homeland Security

Washington

Losing the war at home

The letter “Gen. Pace’s mistakes” (Tuesday) ignores the fact that Gens. Peter Pace, David H. Petraeus and Raymond T. Odierno kept our casualties low in Iraq and have kept America safe. The main mistake in the Iraq war is that we are losing the war at home. We have too many antiwar armchair generals, politicians and activists with their own agendas who want us to surrender, and, like Virginia Democratic Sen. Jim Webb’s antiwar bill, take an approach harmful and destructive to our country and the American people.

LT. COL DOMINIK NARGELE

Marine Corps (retired)

Arlington

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