Regarding your Dec. 11 article, "Where Taliban go to find warm beds and recruits": From interviews with a few Taliban activists, who seem only too ready to disclose their alleged modus operandi, the article implies a general picture of official connivance and support for the Taliban. But the Taliban are no friends of Pakistan.
The overwhelming majority of attacks on Coalition/Afghan forces in Afghanistan originate from Afghanistan.
Crossing the Afghan-Pakistani border is no cakewalk. On one side are US patrols and Afghan forces, and on the other are Pakistan's border-security forces. These two forces have institutionalized their cooperation and information sharing. They cooperate in "hammer and anvil" operations to prevent any insurgents or miscreants from crossing the border.
The border is almost 1,500 miles long, and passes through some of the most difficult terrain in the world. Improving the interdiction capabilities of the Pakistani border-security forces is still a work in progress. Border security is a federal responsibility, not a provincial one. Moreover, the provincial government in Balochistan has no interest in destabilizing its own province by lending support to cross-border insurgency.
Many Afghan refugees remain in Pakistan. Some may have a degree of sympathy for the Taliban, especially in view of their perception of the current situation in Afghanistan. Some might even be given to bragging about being activists or having met Mullah Omar for instructions. Real activists, however, are more likely to shun the international media rather than to court it.
Ashraf Jehangir Qazi
Ambassador of Pakistan
Regarding Alia Fattouh's Dec. 15 Opinion piece, "An Arab liberal's anguish": I have great sympathy for Ms. Fattouh's position and the position of all those who find themselves with ostensibly conflicting loyalties to sift through in the post-Sept.11, post-Iraq- invasion world.
As an American who has lived and traveled in the Arab world, I find nothing more heartbreaking than the daily barrage of misconceptions that seem to come from all sides. Unfortunately, the contradictions at the heart of her commentary are quite good examples.
US policies in the region do not deserve her broad brush. One simply cannot invent outright US support for, much less authorship of, the corrupt political status quo in the region, while simultaneously bemoaning the US imposing its own brand of democracy on it.
There is no doubt the US cannot and should not fix all the region's problems, but there is no doubt that none of us can long survive the status quo.
Unlike Ms. Fattouh, I am an American Jew and it may surprise her to know that I entirely share her sense of alienation from the US approach to the Middle East and her perception of Israel as a threat. Our uncritical support for a nation that has violated the Fourth Geneva Convention and regularly snubs UN resolutions undermines our commitment to human rights.
Miriam M. Reik
Regarding your Dec. 16 article, "China coast as factory of the world": It is much easier for readers to stomach a figure such as $60 to $150 per month in wages as opposed to the hourly equivalent of 25 to 64 cents. We simply can't gloss over the fact that people are getting pennies for the products we pay huge sums for.
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