- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 11, 2000

Trip to Washington was for a private visit

Your May 6 article "Hard-liners rebuff peace overtures," which had the subhead "Diplomat planned conciliatory speech," is a work of fiction. The allegation that I visited Washington as an envoy of the Pakistani chief executive on a mission is unfounded. I went to Washington on a private visit and carried no messages from anyone. Similarly, it is only a figment of someone's imagination that I was forced to cancel two dinners or any planned appearance at the National Press Club. No such engagements were in the cards as far as I was concerned.

I regret that a callous attempt has been made to portray me as being involved in a clandestine operation behind the backs of my government and state. It is unfortunate. Whatever has been attributed to me is false and fabricated.

Likewise, it is gratuitous to speak of rifts or differences in the government of Pakistan on our policy regarding Kashmir. There is no discord between various echelons of the government on Kashmir. Ours is a principled policy based on upholding the rights of the oppressed people of Kashmir, and there can be no bargain or trading on it. We cannot resile from our moral and principled support to the Kashmiris, nor should the world.


Pakistan ambassador to Turkey

Ankara, Turkey

D.C. license plates should focus on city's positive attributes

There is a move toward changing D.C. license plates to say "Taxation Without Representation." While I am all for changing the slogan on our license plates, I (and many others) feel that the message is too negative to be displayed on our vehicles.

I think an excellent compromise would be to put the city's Web site address on the license plates. Then people could go to the site and read about the city's unique representation situation in more detail and even participate on line by e-mailing Congress with comments. Furthermore, if and when the issue of "taxation without representation" is resolved, we won't need to re-create thousands of license plates. The District can simply change the information on the Web site. This would make the District look innovative and forward-thinking rather than being focused on a more-than-200-year-old slogan that no one identifies with anymore.

If local lawmakers are dead set on having the license plate reflect this "poor me" slogan, so be it. However, the issue of renaming our license plates should be put to the public as part of a contest. Let's see what the people decide. There is an uplifting spirit and positive excitement around the District. Let's not dampen our spirits with a daily reminder of the negative.



Time to reopen Pennsylvania Avenue

Last summer, my cousins from South Carolina came to visit our family and spend a few days sightseeing in Washington. Because they live so far away, they seldom get the opportunity to visit our nation's capital. We mapped a plan to see the monuments and to end a day with a trip to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., the White House.

As we approached by car, we remembered we could not drive past the White House because of the barricades blocking the road. Those cement structures were placed there several years ago because of a shooting incident. The person responsible did not harm anyone, but for safety reasons, the Secret Service recommended that the 1600 block of Pennsylvania Avenue be closed. This decision angered many local residents. It also angered my cousins. Although the White House was within walking distance for my cousins, it started to rain hard as they made the trek. They were tired and disappointed that they would not get to see the White House up-close.

The barricades should be removed. Millions of people visit Washington every year, and for some, this will be their only opportunity to see the most famous house in America. With the technology available today, the Secret Service should be able to develop another way to detect potential gunmen and troublemakers. That way visitors and residents could enjoy the beauty of the White House and speed up traffic downtown while protecting the president from harm.

Removing the barricades on Pennsylvania Avenue will make many people happy, including my cousins on their next trip to Washington.



Griffith Roberts is 12 years old.

A call for conservatives to defend DeLay's reputation

Regarding the May 4 article "Democratic committee accuses DeLay of racketeering," I don't worry that Rep. Tom DeLay will lose this suit. No way. I don't worry that he will suffer in his district. This might bring a tighter race, but he will still win in a landslide where the people know him best. However, I do worry that nationally this can ruin the reputation of a good and decent man, a man who prays daily, a man who, despite his grinding schedule, takes in foster children and along with his devoted wife, Christine, cares for them.

I do worry that it will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to beat this phony rap. That money could go to promote worthy causes. I do worry that the nervous-Nellie business community will run screaming from the room when Mr. DeLay comes around to ask for help, lest it, too, be tainted by this bogus lawsuit.

After former Labor Secretary Ray Donovan was cleared of all the equally phony charges against him, he held a press conference and asked: "What office do I go to to get my reputation back?" Unfortunately, the lawsuit is what is remembered most often about Mr. Donovan as labor secretary. He also was charged with racketeering in connection with businesses he had operated before becoming secretary. He did many, many effective things to bring balance back to a Labor Department that had been run by the unions under the table for years. He got no credit for that service. All people recall is that he was charged with corruption.

That is what I fear for Mr. DeLay that somehow, despite the fact that this suit is lacking in merit, it is what will be remembered about this statesman. We can't let that happen. Ordinarily, when these kinds of charges are made, conservatives are reluctant to defend the person charged. They fear the media will link them to the charges. They want more facts. They first want to see how things go in court.

Forget all that if you have any decency in you. Rally behind Mr. DeLay. He is innocent. I will stake my career on that point. If we rally behind him, as both House Speaker Dennis J. Hastert and Majority Leader Dick Armey have done, the left will not be able to destroy the effectiveness of this man. Mr. Armey said the liberals have sunk so low because they are losing all of the public-policy arguments, so they have to resort to their longtime hidden card: the smear.

We cannot let Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy define corruption. We cannot let this good man, Mr. DeLay, hang out to dry. If we do, there will be severe consequences for Congress, for our movement, for the nation. Let us hope Mr. DeLay is able to get expedited action on this lawsuit so it is not hanging over his head during this whole electoral season. Let us take every step possible: prayer, petitions, public comment on talk radio and TV, letters to publications, rallies, displays of support at public meetings, resolutions passed by legislative bodies and private groups you name it. Let's do it. If we don't, it will be our loss. After all, Mr. Kennedy is after the conservatives. Mr. DeLay is just the convenient whipping boy. He is because he fights for us. Now we must fight for him.



Free Congress Foundation


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