- The Washington Times - Friday, May 9, 2003

Amnesty’s activist There has been a great deal of wrangling within Amnesty International USA about how best to respond to the threats and assaults against Barbara Bocek (“Amnesty reverses stance on activist,” Page 1, Monday). The clandestine forces that apparently have targeted her deliberately leave few tracks, but much fear and confusion.Contrary to the article’s implication, however, a review of Miss Bocek’s efforts in recent years to support those under threat in Guatemala should lead one to question not whether she was targeted, but why her experiences should be viewed with such skepticism. Human rights organizations, including Amnesty International, have warned for years about a campaign of intimidation waged against activists, lawyers, witnesses and human rights advocates by shadowy death squads known to operate both within and beyond Guatemalan borders. For this reason, the Guatemalan government’s March agreement to form an international commission to investigate their operations is an important step forward. Let us hope that these inquiries will shed light on the hundreds of cases of people who have been threatened or attacked for supporting human rights in Guatemala.ANGELINA SNODGRASS GODOY Assistant professor of law, societies and justice, and of international studiesUniversity of WashingtonSeattleMilitary doesn’t call shots inPakistanWith due respect to his views in favor of India, former Rep. Mervyn Dymally’s missive against Pakistan is based on flawed causality and a streak of absurd logic (“It’s up to Pakistan,” Letters, Wednesday). President Pervez Musharraf also heads the army as its chief of staff. Thus, the question is not what the military brass would “allow him or not allow him to do.” On three previous occasions — the Agra Summit, the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation summit and the Astna international conference — Gen. Musharraf offered to meet India’s leaders at any place, any time and at any level without preconditions. But these bold efforts to move beyond the status quo were not reciprocated. As long as the Indian leadership is in denial that the disputed region of Jammu and Kashmir is at the core of what is bedeviling bilateral relations, I am afraid progress will be difficult, but not impossible.Any student of the Pakistan army would know that it is representative of the society from which it draws its personnel. The officer corps is predominantly from the middle class, and the ethos and zeitgeist of the army is essentially Spartan. One only needs to check the top management of the state-owned enterprises and other captains of industry (no pun intended) to ascertain that the majority of the chief executive and operating officers are civilians and, in a few instances, retired officers who have the requisite professional management or technical background. It may be interesting to also note that since 1999, Pakistan has frozen its defense expenditures. In actual rupee and dollars terms, this means that defense expenditures have gone down while our neighbor to the east has increased its defensive spending by 40 percent.Finally, Mr. Dymally ought to reread the region’s history to learn that, ironically, Pakistani military leaders have not been warmongers but have pursued either restraint (as Gen. Mohammad Ayub Khan did during the 1962 Sino-Indian war) or offered nonaggression pacts (as Gen. Mohammad Zia ul-Haq did in 1984). Presently, Gen. Musharraf has been offering unconditional dialogue to break the diplomatic logjam and engage in structured negotiations. Premier Zafarullah Jamali has again picked up the banner of peace and is willing to meet Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee more than half the distance provided India is willing to drop preconditions and engage in unconditional dialogue.ASAD HAYAUDDINPress attachePress and Information DivisionEmbassy of PakistanWashingtonBearbaiting bravos and boosThank you for printing Wayne Pacelle’s column about bearbaiting on federal lands (“Ban bear baiting,” Op-Ed, yesterday). It is time outdoorsmen clean up their act and end these despicable, unsporting practices. Leaving piles of food in the woods, so that you can reliably know where the bear is going to be, is like shooting fish in a barrel — it’s not hunting.It is laughable that anyone would claim this is necessary for population control. The great majority of states that allow bear hunting have long ago banned bearbaiting, yet still meet their management needs.The real reason some extreme elements in the hunting world support bearbaiting is not because it is a good tool, but because they refuse to moderate their behavior for fear of a slippery slope leading to an end to all hunting. But that slippery slope goes both ways. How much cruelty and unsporting slaughter are we going to tolerate just to stick it to people that care about animals?The Bible mandates that we be responsible stewards of the Earth and all of creation. Surely bearbaiting runs contrary to that. I hope Congress will do the right thing and rein in this horrible activity.DOUG BOMARSilver Spring•While superficially attractive, the arguments used by Wayne Pacelle, vice president of the Humane Society of the United States, don’t hold water. If bearbaiting results in the execution of those charming bears, then they obviously don’t have a chance to become nuisances. They’re dead. Anthropomorphizing wild black bears into Yogi the Bear-type cartoon characters is typical of the Disney school of wildlife management. The Humane Society opposes all hunting, and this baiting ban proposal is a not too subtle nose under the tent to that end. The same logic used to justify a ban on bearbaiting would apply equally to the planting of food plots by deer hunters. Black bears are not endangered, and are increasing in both numbers and range. That bears are shot over bait would seem more likely to reduce a nuisance than encourage it. Even rats learn by negative reinforcement.STEPHEN L. WILLIAMSONNew Orleans•I would like to make a few points in respect to Wayne Pacelle’s column.First, whatever the view of former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura, hunting black bear with bait is not so simple, as I know that from personal experience. There isn’t even a guarantee the hunter will see a bear. It does increase the chances, however, especially in heavily forested areas where stalking them is not feasible. Second, I don’t know the basis for Mr. Pacelle’s assertion that baiting prevents controlling the population. What’s the empirical support for that assertion? In Maryland, where there hasn’t been any bear hunting, let alone baiting, the bear population has continued to increase, as have the number of bear-human conflicts.Third, the proposal for a one-hunting-style-fits-all-policy is absurd. Different circumstances, goals or problems can require different styles of hunting. ROBERT A. DUBLINAnnandale•The practice of using bait to attract bears during hunting season has proven to be an effective wildlife management tool for many states and Canadian provinces, in contradiction to Wayne Pacelle’s misinformation. Without the use of baits in hunting for reclusive bears, annual harvests would not be sufficient to maintain healthy, controllable populations as determined by state and provincial wildlife departments. In Ontario, where politicians succeeded in banning spring bear hunting altogether — much of which was done through the use of baiting — bear populations have increased significantly and bear-human encounters are growing. In New Jersey, where politicians have consistently refused to initiate a bear hunting season against the requests of the state game biologists, bear-human encounters have grown to alarming levels.So, while we can debate the terms of fair chase and appropriate methods of wildlife management, we must be careful not to prematurely tie the hands of government biologists responsible for wildlife management. I encourage both hunting and nonhunting citizens to contact their respective state’s wildlife agencies to get the real facts on hunting and its role in our ecosystem.CHRIS FROSTCentreville, Va.



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