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But where's the beef?
Sir: Everyone seems to be disappointed with the speech the good general gave on May 27. This includes the Western world, our neighbour to the East and the Pakistani people themselves. Amidst so much hype, what was said in the twenty-minute recorded address was woefully inadequate, people feel. But it is not Gen Musharraf's fault. Matters of such sensitivity when troops are lined eyeball to eyeball cannot be discussed so publicly. The speech was simply meant to rejuvenate the masses and let them know that we would not allow anyone to push us around. And in that respect, it was a good speech.
According to the Washington Post, Musharraf has conveyed to Washington and all capitals that matter that infiltration across the line of control has been stopped. It would have been suicide for the general to say this on TV. To say that out loud would be to accept the Indians' point of view that the troubles of Kashmir are created by Pakistan. It was amusing to see Jaswant Singh refer to the speech as “dangerous and provocative” while Foreign Office spokesperson Nirupama Rao conceded that much like Vajpayee's televised bravado the Musharraf speech was meant for domestic consumption.
But forget about the rest of the world for a change. Us Pakistanis should be wise enough to realise that the real issues will never be aired on the soapdish that is television. The Monday night speech may not have had a lot of meat on it, but it reflected our national pride and self-assurance. Fiery rhetoric is no substitute for substantive change. It is finally our actions that make change possible. And such change is happening every second. Pakistanis should not count on such speeches to mean much. Just have faith. We are on our way.
Sir: My 11-year old son was looking at the graphic Daily Times printed that showed the range of the Ghauri missile. “But where will the Indians go if we attack them?” he asked me. When I told him that they too had the same capabilities and could just as easily attack Pakistan, he said: “It doesn't matter. We will martyr ourselves.”
MAZHAR HUSSAIN CHAUDHRY
Toba Tek Singh
Sir: Car manufacturers have been charging Rs 150,000 over and above the market price of vehicles in order to create an artificial shortage in the market. The government announced that it would allow car imports to counter this trend but withdrew the decision without so much as an explanation. The higher-ups seem to be party to this money game.
Successive governments have allowed local manufacturers to establish a monopoly by slapping huge customs duties on imports. So the car industry has been having a whale of a time. All the while the public has being exploited. I request the president and his administration to act in the public interest and demand local manufacturers sell cars at agreed upon rates. The government should also allow the import of used cars.
Farewell dear lady
Sir: An era comes to an end with the departure of Wendy Chamberlin, Washington's ambassador to Pakistan. In the short time that she was here, the ambassador sailed through crisis after crisis. Chamberlin was frequently reprimanded for speaking her mind. Earlier this year when she said it was “patriotic” for Americans to buy Pakistani textiles, Washington had a cow. Chamberlin has done a remarkable job especially given the fact that she is a woman. For a white woman to be in Pakistan at this time is no mean feat. And she has done her job well. I hope the next ambassador, however, will be a man.
Sir: The cover photo, National Pride, on your May 29 issue by Iqbal Bhatti was poetic, fantastic and well worth a thousand words. Keep up the good work. And let's see more local photojournalists featured in Daily Times.
Sir: Pakistani whiz kids are hitching many rides but still seem to be getting nowhere near their destination. A comprehensive, well thought out strategy needs to be evolved if we want the IT sector to flourish. There are scores of IT-related “schools” across Pakistan's urban centres but none have delivered. On offer, largely, are short courses designed to liven up the resume.
As a result only those in the job market who can afford such courses attend them and subsequently edge out the competition. This is not right. IT is the great wave of the future that operates on principles of egalitarianism but here in Pakistan it is only reinforcing the existing class structure. The rich only hire the rich who can afford expensive diplomas at these IT institutes. The middle class is left with little option but to hire the leftovers. The concept of meritocracy is alien in this country but IT was going to change everything.
Quality education on offer in Pakistan is accessible only to the privileged upper classes. Finding jobs for the privileged is also no tough chore. If they choose to work their daddies can get them first-class jobs that a middle-class gimp could only dream of. We must not forget that it is the middle and working classes that make up the majority of the population. The upper class lacks direction and the lower classes education. If only we could reverse roles here. IT for one would benefit, I assure you.
Fear the storm
Sir: The devastation that the thunderstorm on Tuesday night caused in Lahore has left me thinking. Everyone is complaining about puddles of dirty water and lack of electricity and the trees and hoardings piled up on the roadsides. These are the same people who have been hankering for war with India. So the only thing I can think about now is this: if a tiny little storm is getting people all ticked off, think of the disaster an actual war would be. The people of Pakistan and India have been lucky. They have not seen real war in a long, long time. I just hope this storm is the worst it will get for us in Lahore. We should be grateful it is only rain and disease and power outages we have to cope with.
Benazir, the traitor
Sir: I read the Times of India piece by Benazir Bhutto that you reprinted in Daily Times. I thought it was opportunistic and pathetic of her to blame all of Pakistan's woes on the Jihadi elements. From the suicide bombing in Karachi to the Jammu incident and the assassination of Abdul Gani Lone, Bhutto seemed to be saying Pakistan was responsible. If a former two-time prime minister can so blatantly fault Pakistan for all that is wrong in the region, how will others look at us? This is no time to criticise Pakistan. This is no way to curry favour with the powers that be in hopes that she will return to the helm. She spews venom. She is nasty.
ALI JAWAD KHALID