Voice of Kashmiris
Sir-- I would like to apprise you that the report published by your esteemed weekly 'Un-free Kashmir' ( Al-Ahram Weekly 13-19 October) is not based on convincing ground realities and misses the loud voice of Kashmiris on both sides of the fence exercising their right to self-determination in light of UN resolutions.
Let me emphasise that the Kashmiris living in Azad Kashmir are running their own democratic government. They enjoy all fundamental rights of assembly and expression, as the afore-mentioned gathering of a few people in Muzaffarabad reported on by the writer was witness to. Every political party is free to project its own viewpoint both in parliament and among the public. These parties may have political differences but absolutely agree to agree on exercising their right of self-determination in wake of UN resolutions.
For decades, the Kashmiri people have been victims of the brazen brutalities of 700, 000 Indian security forces in occupied Kashmir. As reported by international human rights organisations, 80,000 innocent people have lost their lives, 5,000 died in judicial custody while 8,000 women and children have been abducted. At the same time 40,000 Kashmiris from the occupied valley are living as refugees in Azad Kashmir. The government of Pakistan is committed to help these victimised and miserable people with all moral, diplomatic, and material support.
The recent earthquake played havoc with the people in Azad Kashmir and it was the Pakistan military which miraculously mobilised support and access for all national and international agencies in the most difficult mountainous terrain for relief and rehabilitation of the earthquake afflicted people.
Contrary to what the report projects, Azad Kashmir is quite an open area to all sorts of welfare-oriented individuals and international agencies. Multiple media organisations working there are vivid examples of this liberty and facilitation being extended by the government of Pakistan.
An equitable development and prosperity of people in affected areas is the ultimate objective of the government with the funds committed by the international community but which have yet to be delivered.
Muhammad Najeeb Khan
Embassy of Pakistan
Silence is scary
Sir-- What is more distressing than the shameful Eid attacks on women in downtown Cairo ('Streets of shame' Al-Ahram Weekly 1-7 November) is the deafening silence by the media and the failure by the authorities to publicly acknowledge and deal with these attacks. Denial will never resolve the issues behind such barbaric behaviour and may actually embolden future attackers in the face of clear complacency. Someone has to take a stand to deal with the root causes of such behaviour and to stamp out what will undoubtedly destroy what's left of Egypt's reputation as the peaceful friendly and safe country it has always been for its citizens and visitors alike.
Sir-- It's time for peace for the Iraqi people but we all have to work together. We have to be in one accord. It is time to enter a new era where people do not have to live in fear. The Saddam reign is over. This is not just an American feat, but an Iraqi achievement as well. The time has come for a new Iraq.
Sir-- Your interesting article 'Facing up to the past' ( Al-Ahram Weekly 1-7 November) seemed to lack the honesty of self-reflection in not mentioning the Arab conquest of North Africa and the Africans, which took away their culture and identity, making them take on Arab names, etc. The Berbers have had to fight to speak their own language, and also the south Sudanese, never mind the colonised Africans who have almost nothing left of their indigenous culture in the North and West of Africa.
Sir-- I suggest to the writer ('Facing up to the past' Al-Ahram Weekly 1-7 November) to investigate thoroughly the American, German, British archives prior to supporting the Turkish claims that "no evidence" exists concerning the Armenian genocide. A statement like this will only back up the Turkish claims. It is well known that the Ottomans committed crimes against the Arab nationalists along the Christian minorities in Arabian lands and elsewhere.
Just the facts
Sir-- Thank you for an informative article on you and your neighbour's history ('Egypt 1956, Lebanon 2006' Al-Ahram Weekly 1-7 November). It is always refreshing to get a view of history that is not tainted by either invaders or political perspectives. Facts of history are just that -- facts.
Sir-- In 'Third Intifada coming' Al-Ahram Weekly 19-25 October) Khaled Amayreh posits that increasing Israeli aggression towards Palestinians will lead to a new national uprising. He gives three reasons for the aggression:
- To prevent Palestinians from building up "defences" that would harm invading Israeli troops.
- To halt firing of projectiles into Israel.
- To find the Israeli soldier kidnapped by Hamas.
Mr Amayreh, at least in his writing, never turns the coin over to see the other side. Israel pulled out of Gaza and in addition relocated some thousands of Israelis, much to their objection. If the Palestinians stopped their aggression, Israel would not be back in Gaza.
Palestinians keep building tunnels and are bringing into Gaza more deadly weapons. In October alone some 70+ Qassam rockets, as well as mortar rounds were fired into Israel. The more sophisticated weaponry (122 mm Grad rockets) have recently been brought into play. If the Israelis display stupidity for their concern over one kidnapped soldier, how bright are the kidnappers who have no care for the many Palestinians they have caused to die and suffer rather than release their prisoner?
Better both sides should seek true peace (which includes the existence of Israel and a Palestinian state) rather than continue subjecting all of their people to a life of constant death and upheaval.
War is over?
Sir-- I remember Bush's declaration on the aircraft carrier that the war is over. Last month, more than 100 US forces were killed, and tens of thousands of Iraqis also died. Faced with persistent sabotage and an increase in guerrilla violence, the Bush administration faces unpalatable options in Iraq. I agree with John Kerry that this administration has no strategy and no clear policy. How can it spend $1 billion a week in Iraq hoping that it can muddle through and that, as was said in Vietnam, there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel? The administration might well consider that if "sacrifices" in Iraq can be portrayed as necessary to win the "war on terrorism", at the same time however, the American people are quickly growing sceptical of prolonged wars. The administration got into this war by playing games with the truth.