- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 19, 2005

India’s appalling record

Sen. Richard Lugar, Indiana Republican, writes that “India’s growing global role as a multiethnic, multireligious democracy with a rapidly expanding economy makes partnering with that country a natural step in fortifying democratic values … ” (“Critical mission to South Asia,” Commentary, Monday). Yet India is neither democratic nor pro-American nor a rapidly expanding economy.

India holds tens of thousands of political prisoners, according to Amnesty International. Among them are more than 52,000 Sikhs, as the Movement Against State Repression (MASR) reported. In January, 35 Sikhs were arrested for raising the Sikh flag in Amritsar on India’s Republic Day. They continue to be held and recently were denied bail. The Indian government has murdered more than 250,000 Sikhs since its brutal attack on the Sikh religion’s most sacred shrine, the Golden Temple, in June 1984. India has killed more than 300,000 Christians in Nagaland and more than 90,000 Kashmiri Muslims. In addition, tens of thousands of Assamese, Bodos, Dalits, Manipuris, Tamils and other minorities have died at the hands of the Indian government, as well as Christians and Muslims throughout the country.

Christian missionary Joseph Cooper was beaten so badly that he had to spend a week in the hospital; then he was expelled from India. Graham Staines and his two young sons were burned to death in their Jeep by a mob of Hindu militants chanting “Victory to Hanuman,” a Hindu god. Nuns have been raped, priests have been murdered, churches have been burned, Christian schools and prayer halls have been attacked. In Gujarat, more than 5,000 Muslims were killed in a riot that, according to one of the police officers on the scene, was pre-planned by the government. The government recently admitted that the stated reason for the massacre was fake.

India has a long record of anti-Americanism. It has voted against the United States at the United Nations more often than any other country except Cuba. In 1999, the Indian defense minster organized a meeting with the ambassadors from China, Cuba, Iraq, Russia, Yugoslavia and Libya to organize a security alliance “to stop the U.S.” India was an ally of the Soviet Union, with which it had a 100-year friendship treaty. It openly supported the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. It has sold oil to Saddam Hussein’s regime and heavy water to the Iranian mullahs. Saddam’s oil minister described India as “a strategic partner.”

Half of India’s population lives below the international poverty line. Almost two-thirds live on less than $2 per day. Yet India spends 25 percent of its development budget on nuclear development and just 2 percent on health and 2 percent on education. India began the nuclearization of South Asia, so we can clearly see the purpose of its nuclear development program.

On Jan. 2, 2002, The Times reported that India sponsors cross-border terrorism in Sindh, a province of Pakistan.

The Sikh Nation of Khalistan, the Muslims of Kashmir, the Christians of Nagaland and other minorities suffering under Indian repression are demanding their independence. India promised Kashmir a referendum on its status in 1948 but has never allowed that vote to be held. At the time of Indian independence, Sikhs were to receive independence, and India promised that Sikhs would enjoy “the glow of freedom” in Punjab. Almost immediately, the government issued a memo requiring special scrutiny of Sikhs, who were labeled “a criminal class.” Sikhs declared their independence on Oct. 7, 1987, naming their new country Khalistan. No Sikh leader has ever signed the Indian constitution.

The time has come to stop American aid to India and to demand self-determination for all the nations and people of South Asia. Self-determination is the essence of democracy.

GURMIT SINGH AULAKH

President

Council of Khalistan

Washington

Distorting King’s record

Patrick J. Buchanan’s effort to resurrect civil-rights heroes to promote a drive by religious conservatives to win passage of a bill that would politicize the nation’s houses of worship is hard to swallow (“Freedom in the pulpit,” Op-Ed, yesterday).

Despite what Martin Luther King’s father did or did not do as a Baptist preacher, we know that King himself did not use his pulpit to endorse politicians. Rep. John Lewis, Georgia Democrat, a renowned civil-rights leader and friend of King’s, has said so. King knew there were better ways to challenge the government than telling congregants how to vote.

The invocation of King’s memory is a desperate tactic by North Carolina Republican Rep. Walter B. Jones and his supporters, who have obsessively fought for passage of his bill to allow churches to function as political action committees but maintain their nonprofit tax breaks.

It won’t work. Polls show that a majority of Americans do not want their houses of worship infected with divisive political battles and do not want their religious leaders telling them for whom to vote. (By the way, nothing is stopping religious leaders from discussing moral or ethical issues.)

It is therefore not surprising that Mr. Buchanan and Mr. Jones resort to distortions and scare tactics to push an unwanted and misguided policy.

BARRY W. LYNN

Executive director

Americans United for Separation of Church and State

Washington

Why Sharon said no

In the Reuters News Agency article “Annan offers Abbas global support” (World, Tuesday), reporter Wafa Amr relates how in recent negotiations between Mahmoud Abbas and Ariel Sharon, Mr. Sharon rejected the truce bid for a formal cease-fire. The conditions were that Israel free 8,000 prisoners and pull back from the West Bank.

However, with violence persisting, it is inconceivable that Mr. Sharon would agree to free Palestinian prisoners, especially when there is no assurance that Mr. Abbas will use his control to dismantle military groups.

Mr. Amr refers to Mr. Sharon’s rejection of the plan but fails to mention that Israel just agreed to transfer security control of Jericho and Tulkarm to the Palestinians. With that shift of power to Palestinian authorities, freeing 8,000 prisoners without any sort of reassurance could put Israel in a precarious position.

If Israel is to retain its power in negotiations, it must consider its security and uphold its defense. There must be a real exchange in terms of the truce before any prisoners are released and any more concessions are made.

RACHEL A. SEITZ

Research assistant

National Defense Council Foundation

Alexandria

Financial literacy needed

According to the article “Learning dollars and cents” (Business, Tuesday), the National Council on Economic Education reveals that teens are not adequately prepared when it comes to personal finance and that fewer states are requiring economic education.

For too long, our nation has neglected financial literacy, which is why we see consumer debt in the United States exceeding $2 trillion — greater than the gross domestic product of Great Britain. Schools must teach the 3 R’s, but let’s not forget the fourth R — relevancy.

Programs such as Junior Achievement — funded by private donations mostly from business contributors, not state dollars — can help young people make the connection between what they learn in the classroom and the real world.

DAVID S. CHERNOW

President and CEO

Junior Achievement Worldwide

Colorado Springs

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