Ahmadi Muslims Call for Justice in Pakistan
In response to the opinion-page article ``Pakistan Falls Short on Religious Freedom,'' Jan. 5: I am a member of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamat, the sect which is blatantly persecuted in Pakistan. Ahmadis are peace-loving and law-abiding citizens; but for the last 40 years or so, the clergy of Pakistan, in conjunction with the government, has engaged in a constant array of baseless accusations that incite religious intolerance and violence against the Ahmadis.
The Ahmadis were the target of an uprising in 1953, when people, upon the encouragement of the ``mullah'' (Muslim equivalent of a priest), looted and burned Ahmadi property and killed innocent people. Again in 1974 the scenario was repeated. A new ordinance was passed in 1984 which has been subsequently legalized by the Supreme Court of Justice of Pakistan denying Ahmadis even basic religious rights. Under this law, an Ahmadi who considers himself to be a Muslim can no longer say so in his own country (Pakistan). If he does he can be imprisoned for up to three years. This means that I, an Ahmadi and a Pakistani national, am a Muslim in America, but cease to be one the moment I enter Pakistan. Amir Malik, Kirkland, Wash.
Enough food, for a price
I was surprised to see the article on food production and population growth, ``The Balance Between Food and People Has Become Threatened,'' Jan. 18, based on the ``sobering conclusions'' drawn by the Worldwatch Institute. Worldwatch apparently fails to notice that while it is bewailing world food shortages, there has seldom been a year in which the major world food producers were not faced with acreage reductions in vain attempts to avoid a world glut of food. The only exception was the early 1970s, when the Soviet Union unexpectedly entered the world markets as a significant importer of grains and other foodstuffs. Since that time the world has adjusted to this sharp increase in demand, and we are again faced with the problems of world food surpluses and the bickering over resulting trade issues.
If the existing world supplies were divided equally among the world's population there would be immediate shortages, but the problem is that the world's hungry are unable to pay for enough food, and the world's producers don't want to produce without profits. Nor is there any nation wealthy enough and willing to pay for the long-term production and transportation to hungry nations. When farmers have been able to obtain a price for their production they have proved themselves more than able to meet world demand. Joseph Halow, Potomac, Md.
Nuclear power won't replace oil
Regarding the opinion-page article ``US Needs Fresh Approach to Nuclear Energy,'' Jan. 31. I am not disputing the author's argument for the need to develop safer nuclear power technology. I do, however, disagree with the way he presents his information.
He refers to the United States' lack of nuclear development in the same context as our reliance on foreign oil. He infers that development of nuclear power will ``offset the consumption and emissions of millions of barrels of imported oil and billions of cubic feet of natural gas.'' This simply is not true. Energy obtained from nuclear fission is used to produce electricity. Oil and gas do account for a large portion of total US energy demand, but they provide less than 10 percent of electricity. The bulk of oil is consumed by the transportation sector. Increased use of nuclear power will do very little to offset US reliance on foreign oil.
The author also suggests that an ``incredible opportunity'' lies in the ``hundreds of tons of uranium and plutonium'' in nuclear weapons that are becoming ``surplus'' as they are dismantled. Unless I am unaware of some further technological developments, this also is incorrect. The majority of uranium occurs in the earth as 238-uranium, which is not fissionable. Therefore, it must be enriched with 235-uranium, which is fissionable. Fuel for power production is only enriched to about 3 to 4 percent 235-uranium, whereas fuel for nuclear weapons requires over 90 percent enrichment of 235-uranium. This level of enrichment causes instantaneous and total fission, which cannot be sustained in a nuclear reactor. Leslie Cockburn, Oxford, Ohio