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Lessons from Pakistan

January 01, 2008

Re "Bhutto's son and husband take the helm of her party," Dec. 31

The move to appoint Bilawal Zardari as the successor to his slain mother, Benazir Bhutto, as head of a leading opposition party in Pakistan demonstrates the absence of the democratic process in some parts of the world. President Bush and his predecessors have been ignorant of the culture of the countries the U.S. has tried to convert from dictatorship to democracy at an enormous cost. Bilawal is only a teenager, totally inexperienced, yet being the son of the slain leader, he is slated to become an important political figure in unstable Pakistan. Democracy in words only!

Lesson for the U.S. policy makers: Do not meddle in the affairs of countries you do not understand. Unfortunately, it is too late now. We are involved by choice in Middle East politics and wars in an inextricable way. Just think: Pakistan is overrun by extremists who could possess nuclear weapons. U.S. foreign policy has set the machinery in action, teaching us a lesson we do not wish to learn.

Dro Amirian

Studio City

Re "By focusing on a person, U.S. could lose a region," Dec. 28

Bhutto's assassination is a tragedy for the people of Pakistan and to the world at large. The article states, "With Bhutto dead ... U.S. officials must decide which Pakistani leader can help wage war on Islamic militants and stabilize the nuclear-armed country." Is it not the case that in a democracy the people of that democracy get to pick their leader?

I agree with former State Department official John Schlosser. It would be best for the U.S. to make friends with the people of Pakistan and not just try to pick their leader, just as it is better for the powerful uncle to get to know and support the niece's or nephew's choice of spouse rather than try to arrange his or her marriage. The former is harder and time-consuming but pays long dividends.

Jayanth

Anantharaman

Los Angeles

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