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Musharraf Is Not a Great U.S. Ally

June 28, 2003

Re "Camp David Trip Is a Milestone for Musharraf," June 24: As a former member of the House International Relations Committee (as a congressman from Alabama), I have followed events in Pakistan and India closely and believe that Gen. Pervez Musharraf is not the great ally reported in your story. It's important to remember that Pakistani authorities have joined the fight against terrorism only halfheartedly, and dreaded terrorists like Saif Rahman Mansur and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar still remain at large.

You also report that Musharraf has taken "limited steps" toward democracy. The reality is that the Pakistani leader has tried his best to scuttle any challenge to his authority. For instance, he still hasn't addressed his parliament since general elections were conducted last year, indicating his contempt for the lawmakers. In fact, there are rumors that he is expected to dissolve the parliament after his return from Washington.

Helping Islamabad economically is desirable, but only if it is conditional on firm and immediate action to root out terrorism activities in Pakistan.

Earl Hilliard

Washington

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President Bush's decision to offer Pakistan a $3.12-billion military/economic aid package is a tragic mistake indeed (June 25). Half of the money to be used for military purposes will undoubtedly be used against India in terms of militancy in Kashmir. Also, this will trigger an arms race in the subcontinent that the poor people of both countries can ill afford.

The Bush administration should not forget that Musharraf is a self-appointed dictator who has illegally seized power from the democratically elected government of Pakistan. We are supposedly trying to install democracy by overthrowing a dictator in Iraq, while we are helping a dictator who has brazenly overthrown a democracy. What kind of policy are we pursuing?

Chaitanya Dave

Rancho Palos Verdes

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