U.S. should acknowledge Pakistani terrorism
Thank you for Frank Gaffney’s timely Oct. 10 Commentary column, “Perils of dealing with dictators,” which discussed failures in U.S. diplomacy with North Korea, Iran and Libya. I would like to add that the Clinton administration has demonstrated similar weak-kneed policies with respect to the Pakistani dictator, Gen. Pervez Musharraf. Gen. Musharraf, who orchestrated the Kargil intrusion into India’s Jammu and Kashmir state last year, has been treated with kid gloves since he overthrew a democratically elected Pakistani government that was starting to move forward on peace with India.
It is common knowledge that Pakistani government agencies sponsor the dozen or so terrorist groups that wreak havoc in Jammu and Kashmir state, killing security forces and civilians alike. Pakistan, along with its puppets the Taliban in Afghanistan, are acknowledged even by the State Department as the new loci of international terrorism. Recent reports (Barry Bearak in the New York Times, Oct. 10) indicate that the terrorist network in Pakistan collaborates heavily with Osama bin Laden’s group and targets not only Jammu and Kashmir, but all of India and even the United States.
Despite this, the Clinton administration continues to omit Pakistan from its annual list of state sponsors of terrorism. President Clinton graced Mr. Musharraf with a visit last spring that easily could have been avoided. In order to get safely in and out of Pakistan, Mr. Clinton needed to use decoy planes and numerous other stunts. If Mr. Clinton wanted simply to convey his displeasure over Pakistan’s support for terrorism, he could have done that in a phone call. This kind of appeasement has bought nothing for the United States except the continued strengthening of the largest terrorism network in the world.
Kashmiri Overseas Association
Your recent article concerning religious minorities in Pakistan raises an interesting question: How should U.S. foreign policy be applied in the region so that it will reflect more accurately the values of our nation (“Christians in Pakistan live in fear,” Oct. 7). For decades, and certainly since the rise to power of Gen. Pervez Musharraf Oct. 12 of last year, there has existed a strong and well-founded concern over the strength and nefariousness of Pakistan’s Islamic fundamentalists. Most recently, U.S. intervention in the region has focused on stemming the violent export of that fundamentalism into regions such as Kashmir and Central Asia. However, the unwelcome grip that these Islamists have over Pakistan’s minority communities also should factor into U.S. decision-making.
Pakistani Christians are but one of any number of religious minorities who are not safe under the current regime of fundamentalists. In fact, the followers of the Ahmadi sect of Islam, declared a non-Muslim minority in 1974, suffer perhaps a far more gruesome fate under shari’a law. Viewed by fundamentalists as traitors to the faith and therefore apostates, Ahmadis have for generations been subjected to near systematic state repression and societal ostracism. This is manifested most clearly not only through physical intimidation and persecution, but also through the denial of basic rights before the judiciary and police, from which they receive no protection. As a result, hundreds of thousands of Ahmadis have fled Pakistan, seeking asylum throughout the United States and Europe.
The creation of a Commission on International Religious Freedom was meant to provide our foreign policy with the same sense of moral duty upon which this country was founded. It is therefore incumbent upon our policy-makers to judge not only the actions a country takes regionally, but also what it does internally. In the case of Pakistan, this requires the strongest possible rebuke in response to both its internal repression and regional adventurism.
TIMOTHY L. TOWELL
(Mr. Towell is former ambassador to Paraguay and former deputy chief of protocol under President Reagan)
Let Israel keep its land
Thank you for Cal Thomas’ Oct. 11 Commentary column, “Piecemeal destruction of Israel.” To the victor go the spoils has been a universal constant: If a country wins a skirmish over territory, it gets to keep the land in contention. Yet Israel’s enemies expect to receive a piece of land after every conflict they initiate is quelled. This makes no sense. Israel is the size of New Jersey, and it successfully defends itself and its statehood against aggressors many times its size.
A brief glimpse at Middle Eastern history makes it apparent that Yasser Arafat has one goal to expunge Israel from existence. This man poorly disguises his singular purpose in displays of compassion toward Palestinians and so-called “statecraft.” As Mr. Thomas observes, however, “There is no evidence that Israel’s enemies wish to live at peace.”
Israel should not be giving up its land. The Israelis have fought hard for years to defend themselves. What’s the point of fighting the battles if you’re going to give back all for which you have fought?
The albatross of America’s Balkan policy
Seth Cropsey’s Oct. 9 Op-Ed column, “Milosevic’s collapse,” contains a number of questionable assertions.
American arms and policy, instead of playing a key role in the fall of Slobodan Milosevic, actually delayed it. In Bosnia, by vetoing several plans for a settlement worked out by former U.S. Secretary of State Cyrus Vance and Britain’s Lord David Owen (discussed in detail in Mr. Owen’s book “Balkan Odyssey”), the Clinton administration ensured continuation of the bloodshed. Had President Clinton not encouraged the Muslims to continue the war, there could have been an end to it without the U.S. bombing of the Bosnian Serbs in 1995.
Mr. Cropsey charges Mr. Milosevic with visiting “terror and warfare” on his neighbors in Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo. Except for Slovenia, when Mr. Milosevic did not have a role in the federal government that responded to Slovene actions, he was reacting to actions against Yugoslavia or against the Serbs. Be it noted that the Slovenes fired the first shots in the civil war, downing a Yugoslav Army helicopter. Those republics, by their secessions, violated the Yugoslav constitution. The Western powers, by recognizing the secessionist republics, violated the Helsinki accords.
The author asserts, “When the United States finally recognized Bosnia, ethnic cleansing was reaching its full cry.” In point of fact, the United States recognized Bosnia on April 7, 1992, before the Bosnian war began.
Mr. Cropsey says that had the Clinton administration threatened to use force early in Kosovo, there would not have been a need to use force in the end. Instead of threats, how about some serious diplomacy? If we had used no more than 5 percent of the effort to advance the peace process there as we have in the Middle East or Ireland, the bombing would not have been necessary. The same goes for Croatia and Bosnia.
The basic fault of the Western powers in tackling the various aspects of the Yugoslav crisis was that they thought the solutions could be pursued without taking Serbian interests into account and that arrogance and force could do the job. What puzzles me is why, in the case of Yugoslavia, we did not seek solutions that would be acceptable to all sides in the conflicts.
Mr. Cropsey urges the United States to stay involved. There is not much of a chance that we will do otherwise because lasting solutions for Bosnia and Kosovo do not seem to be in the offing. Having created those albatrosses around the necks of the American taxpayers, the United States is bound to stay there for decades (if not longer) that is, if Congress will continue to provide the money.
ALEX N. DRAGNICH