- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 5, 2003

Dropping Hate 101

I commend the editorial page for its initiative in tracking the proposed madrassa reform plan announced by Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf (“Dropping Hate 101, Wednesday). However, the general’s remarks indicate a massive understatement of the problem. As opposed to Gen. Musharraf’s claim of 700 out of 7,000 madrassas registering with the government program, a recent Global Information Network report mentioned that just 300 of more than 25,000 seminaries have opted to affiliate themselves with the government program. In addition, according to a report in the Asia Times, an additional 25,000 to 40,000 nonregistered madrassas are operating throughout Pakistan. Even if the government is able to reach some seminaries, the idea that the intelligence service would monitor hate lessons is laughable. It is the intelligence services and the army establishment that promoted these hate factories in the first place, as recruiting grounds for the Taliban and Kashmiri jihad. In fact, if Gen. Musharraf is serious about reform, why is half of the proposed aid earmarked for the military? The sad fact is that the military establishment and the violent radicals are two sides of the same coin. One cannot thrive without the other.

Indeed, the prospects for serious madrassa reform under Gen. Musharraf are slim. I believe the editorial writer will likely reach the same conclusion in the coming months.



Your Wednesday editorial on Pakistan raises many pertinent questions, but is nevertheless short on reality in the matter of foreign aid. As Peter Bauer, the development economist, unfailingly pointed out, foreign aid not only creates a culture of dependency, but also does nothing to bring about systemic change in Third World countries. What is worse, as also noted by Bauer, is that it presumes an awful contempt for people of the Third World in that it assumes an inability on their part to respond to free-market initiatives. Postwar history in a range of countries including Pakistan bears that out.

President Pervez Musharraf has on numerous occasions articulated a desire to pursue a secular and progressive course for Pakistan. Thus far, he has put none of that rhetoric to practice. The madrassas that worry Western minds in a post-September 11 era ironically had their beginnings as institutions that taught both secular and religious subjects. As is now well-known, Saudi money has changed that around the world. In Pakistan, those funds are estimated at $3 billion annually. Transferred via a hawala (in-trust) route without a paper trail, they remain outside the purview of the tax collector. Even if the Pakistani leader made an honest attempt at stanching that flow, it is hard to be optimistic about success. With tax collection at a paltry 12 percent of GDP and defense spending at 5 percent, the government’s remit at the grass-roots level barely exists, while the misallocation of limited resources is rampant. Quite obviously, the real reason madrassas thrive is because of the lack of opportunities for the youths of Pakistan.

It is indeed naive of the United States to expect the radical structural changes needed for Pakistan to occur under the military’s watch. The sad truth is that although Pakistanis obtained independence from the British in 1947, they have never known freedom, either economic or social. A majority of those 55-plus years since independence have passed with rule from the barracks. The latest man in khaki is an unlikely messiah for change.


New York

The demise of the Constitution

Cal Thomas identifies a major flaw in our system of government today, the demise of the Constitution, but his proposed solution would merely weaken the Constitution further (“Constitution’s demise … privacy’s revival,” Commentary, Wednesday). Mr. Thomas suggests that “the court has removed from the people their right to create community standards for themselves” with decisions such as Roe v. Wade and Lawrence v. Texas. Nowhere in the Constitution does it say that the government has a right to protect “community standards.” The Constitution does protect the right of the individual, however, and the right of the individual to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. What right does the government, or the state, have to restrict the life, liberty and pursuit of happiness granted to the individual by the Constitution? The problem with the government today is that it has chosen, unlawfully, to ignore the provisions of individual liberty, and limited government based on that liberty, that are explicit in the Constitution.

Every day the government violates the provisions of the Constitution based on those rights. Just imagine the world we might live in today if “community standards” were to trump individual liberty. Mr. Thomas refers to “the whims of culture” and the “squishy morality of post-modernism,” and warns readers that, gasp, same-sex marriage, polygamy and “all sorts of other sexual practices” are on the horizon. Mr. Thomas may find that a world in which his personal moral beliefs and values are imposed upon everyone else is a desirable one. Cal Thomas’ world, however, would not be a constitutional one.


Oreland, Pa.

Turkey must resolve enmity with Armenia

Ariel Cohen’s commentary on the shifting American-Turkish relationship is timely (“Getting Turkey right,” Tuesday). I would point out, however, that if “Armenia remains a sore point in Turkish foreign policy,” it is largely because it has failed to deal with the issue of the Armenian genocide of 1915.

We wholeheartedly encourage Turkey to lift its blockade of Armenia and open the border to exchanges and trade. However, as the assembly leadership told the Turkish Foreign Ministry’s emissary last month, the Armenian-American community is united in its insistence that Turkey deal with the genocide. Facing the facts of history will allow the Turkish-Armenian relationship to evolve, to the benefit of both peoples.


Executive director

Armenian Assembly of America


Out of order

A judge has moved the trial of one of the accused snipers out of the Washington area (“Judge moves sniper suspect trial to Chesapeake,” Thursday). Why? Because, the judge claims, a potential jury should not be made up of people who experienced fear at the hands of the sniper.

The premise of the judge’s decision is insulting and inaccurate. She assumes that emotion and reason are incompatible: that merely because one experiences emotion about something, rational judgment is no longer possible. People who live in the Washington area are assumed to be incapable of determining what is just precisely because they were the targets of the accused killer. They supposedly have been so traumatized that they can no longer think.

Justice has nothing to fear from fear — particularly when the fear is overwhelmingly based on fact.



Chevy Chase

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