Reforms make Pakistan more democratic The Sun's...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

September 03, 2002

Reforms make Pakistan more democratic

The Sun's editorial "Bedfellows" (Aug. 23) unfortunately misses two crucial points about the constitutional amendments in Pakistan.

First, it was precisely because of the lack of any safety valve or balance of powers that the military intervened after the balancing factor in the constitution, Article 58(2)(b), was removed in 1997.

The power that article gave the nation's president to dismiss the prime minister was a check (albeit an imperfect one) over legislative excesses. Only when the constitution was amended in 1997, leaving no means to change the government within the constitution, did the army take extra-constitutional steps to remove the old regime.

Second, the formation of the National Security Council has been misunderstood, and the overall deepening and widening of rights and of popular enfranchisement have not been analyzed correctly.

The NSC is composed of eight elected and four non-elected members. It will deliberate on matters of high politics, including the dismissal of any sitting government.

And this is an unprecedented and positive political development, since previously only the president decided whether the government of the day would be dismissed.

Other developments include lowering the voting age from 21 to 18, which enfranchised an additional 10 million people, and increasing the seats in the National Assembly from 215 to 342, with 60 seats reserved for women in the National Assembly and 130 seats for women in the four provincial assemblies.

Furthermore, the incoming parliament will have the power to undo these changes if two-thirds of its members vote for such a measure.

Pakistan's political development is still a work in progress. And it is worth remembering that the United States is not what it was in 1776, 1865, 1917 or 1964 -- when numerous groups were disenfranchised, and then only incrementally included in the political process.

Asad Hayauddin

Washington

The writer is press attachM-i for the Embassy of Pakistan.

Role of aggressor is unbecoming

Am I missing something or would the United States not be crossing a very dangerous line by initiating war against Iraq ("Cheney argues for war on Iraq," Aug. 27)?

Never in the history of our country have we been the initiating aggressor. Not in the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Civil War, World War I, World War II, Korea or even Vietnam.

Having the power to destroy a country if we are attacked can, and does, deter aggression -- as it did in the Cold War. Using that power to be the attacker is another matter.

It would appear to me that, by being the pre-emptive aggressor, President Bush would put himself in the league of Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin.

Wil Adkins

Baltimore

`Liberating' Iraq isn't America's role

I am appalled by the recent speech of Vice President Dick Cheney ("Cheney argues for war on Iraq," Aug. 27).

Let us not wage war against Iraq. It is not our job to "liberate" that country, and attempting to do so would only further destabilize that region.

Barbara Mann Hanst

Baltimore

U.S. energy policy is a real nightmare

A Sun headline, referring to the United Nations meeting in South Africa, read: "Renewable energy opposed at summit" (Aug. 28). And the subheading said: "U.S., other rich nations try to block goals for sustainable development."

Our spring, our source of drinking and bathing water, has dried up. Our farm pond is shrinking daily, the fish dying. Our woods are distressed, our vegetable garden withered and brown.

Global warming is a real threat, not a theory -- and this makes U.S. energy policy seem like some kind of nightmare, a sick joke.

I think the time may soon come when we drought-stricken taxpayers must end the insanity that is crippling us and much of the rest of this fragile Earth.

Kirk S. Nevin

White Hall

Golf courses supply jobs, not just fun

In response to the letter "Why are golf courses allowed to water" (Aug. 27), I would note that, in addition to providing recreation for those who choose to play the game, golf courses employ many hardworking people who depend on the course -- not for a good game but to provide for their families.

These are the people who would truly suffer if the state denied water to golf courses.

Erin Lutz

Reisterstown

Blame the drivers, not a winding road

I fail to understand why the media, in its effort to follow up on a deadly auto accident, decides that the problem is the road itself, not the actions of the drivers ("Howard seeking solutions for dangerous stretch of road," Aug. 25)

The posted speed limit on College Avenue is 25 miles per hour. That limit is low for a reason. If someone careens through the road at 70 miles per hour, that person is breaking the law and endangering himself or herself along with everyone else on the road.

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