- The Washington Times - Friday, August 16, 2002

Pakistan's growing pains

Mervyn Dymally's column, although noble in its intention of restoring democracy in Pakistan, misses some essential points about the balance of powers and the reason why there was no military intervention in politics between 1988 and 1999 ("Musharraf makes grab for power," Forum, Sunday).

The safety valve of Article 58(2)b of the Constitution of Pakistan ensured that the president exercised a check over the prime minister and could dismiss the government if the affairs of the federation were not being run in consonance with the spirit of the constitution. This was a one-man judgment call. The proposed amendments by the present government are an attempt to share decision-making by having elected personnel (the president, prime minister, leader of the opposition and four chief ministers) and non-elected personnel (the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff and the army, air force and naval chiefs of staff) decide the fate of the nation in a rational and consensus-oriented manner.

In addition to these steps, additional measures taken to broaden and deepen democratic norms include lowering the voting age to 18, whereby 10 million additional voters have been enfranchised, and reserving for women 60 seats in the national assembly and one-third of the seats in the local legislative bodies. Both are unprecedented developments in Pakistan. Furthermore, the discriminatory system of separate electorates bifurcating the vote banks of Muslims and non-Muslims has been done away with, and joint electorates have been re-introduced, ensuring the principle of one person, one vote.

Pakistan is a developing country, and it has to go through its natural developmental path toward political maturity while keeping in mind its unique and particular political culture. Rome was not built in a day, and the United States is not what it was in 1776, 1789, 1865, 1917 or 1964 all landmarks in the political development of the United States, whereby various groups of people previously disenfranchised were given the vote.


Press attache

Embassy of Pakistan


Sleepless, but not in Seattle

In "Pentagon policy-makers battle with waning morale" (Page 1, Monday), a Pentagon employee attributes part of the problem to Douglas J. Feith, undersecretary of defense for policy and a major player in war strategy. One of his employees, who of course went unnamed, told The Washington Times: "It's near a crisis in low morale because of Feith's inability to communicate well with people."

Instead of hosting employee retreats in the Virginia countryside to determine the causes of low morale, perhaps the Pentagon should make sure its top managers get a good night's sleep. According to the article, Mr. Feith "rises at 4 a.m., works at home a few hours, then arrives at the office for a 12- to 14-hour day." In total, that sounds like a 15- to 17-hour workday. If you add at least one hour for the round trip to work, that makes it 16 to 18 hours. That leaves Mr. Feith with six to eight hours each day to do the most basic functions of life eat, bathe (I assume) and sleep. No wonder this so-called "brilliant" lawyer doesn't communicate well he's too tired.


Huntsville Ala.

Germany is not a 'bratwurst republic'

Bill O'Reilly's most recent salvo across the bow of the good ship Logical Thinking is, as usual, off the mark ("Saddled with dubiety," Commentary, Tuesday). Most egregious are his comments about Germany.

Mr. O'Reilly's suggestion that Germany is displaying "sheer, colossal ingratitude" by not marching off with President Bush to invade Iraq shows a crucial misunderstanding about why the United States spent billions of dollars on Germany after World War II. As Mr. O'Reilly should know, that money was spent to build a democracy in the heart of Europe at a time when the very survival of Western institutions was in doubt. The money was not spent to provide the United States with a puppet "bratwurst republic" dedicated to the proposition that Germany must always acquiesce to American interests and requests.

Germany is a democracy just like the United States, and quite simply put, its government, like many governments worldwide, disagrees with Mr. Bush's desire to invade Iraq. Under these circumstances, and with no firm evidence that a unilateral declaration of war on Iraq is justified, a foreign democratic government cannot simply give the United States the benefit of the doubt because of American postwar largess.



Fox snubs Bush over Mexican cop-killer's execution

Mexican President Vicente Fox's cancellation of his trip to Texas is another example of the disingenuous immigration policy advocated by our "friends" south of the Rio Grande ("Execution of Mexican cancels visit," Nation, yesterday). His cancellation, a protest against the execution of a Mexican national who killed an American cop, is "mucho malo."

On one hand, Mr. Fox demands that his people have unfettered access to this country so they can enjoy the fruits of liberty and prosperity. On the other, his cancellation implies that those amenities come without the obligation of obeying the laws of this country.

Yet if an American committed a crime in Mr. Fox's chicken coop especially one as egregious as killing a policeman he might never again see the light of day unless, of course, he could pay mucho dinero.


Sierra Vista, Ariz.

Paying $7 per pack is not enough for some

The smoker who wrote Wednesday's editorial "Butting in" is wrong on at least three counts.

First, New York City's cigarette tax isn't one of those "onerous 'sin' taxes" slammed in the editorial, but rather a modest step toward making smokers pay their fair share. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the health care and other costs of smoking in New York state come to more than $12.80 per pack far more than the sum of the federal tax ($0.39), state tax ($1.50) and the city tax ($1.50).

Second, New York City isn't "taking the lead" in banning smoking in bars and restaurants. As The Washington Times itself recently reported, at least five states and almost 400 communities already have banned smoking in restaurants, and two states and almost 90 communities also have banned smoking in bars.

Third, privately owned places of public accommodation don't have a right to permit unhealthy conduct, even if they and their patrons favor it. For decades, bars and restaurants haven't been able to permit the chewing and spitting of tobacco; obviously, they have no greater right to permit the smoking of tobacco.


Executive director

Action on Smoking and Health


(Editor's note: The writer of the editorial is not a smoker.)

Fat-living on the Euphrates

The current national weekly edition of The Washington Times features a front-page photo titled "Shotgun Wedding." This photo seems to give the lie to a complaint Americans have been bombarded with since the Gulf war: that the U.N. blockade of Iraq is starving Iraqis to death, with thousands dying monthly. The photo shows a line of plump brides and chubby-faced grooms marching off to holy wedlock wearing impeccable clothing and wide grins. Evidently the blockade's ill effects are not distributed evenly among the population.


McKinney, Texas

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