India Misunderstood on Bomb Tests
Your editorial on the 13th and the variety of commentaries on the 14th regarding India's nuclear testing were interesting to read. It is unfortunate, however, that there is very little balance in the coverage.
The commentary by the Pakistani Ambassador to the US was scurrilous and vicious. What can one expect from the representative of a theocratic state that has been ruled for the majority of its 50 years of independence by brutal military dictators and controlled by fanatical Muslim clerics who put women behind burkhas (veils) and minorities behind bars?
India and Indians are proud that they have had Muslim presidents (Dr. Zakir Hussain and Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed), Muslim scientists who have headed India's scientific and nuclear establishments (for example, Dr. Abdul Kalam, who before retirement last year was the scientific adviser to India's defense minister; Dr. Kalam, was awarded the greatest civilian award, the Bharata Ratna, and is considered the father of India's Integrated Guided Missile Development Program) and Muslims who contribute in rich and substantive ways to the multicultural society that India is (for example, St. Louis' very own Ustad Imrat Khan, the sitar maestro whose first home is Calcutta).
Pakistan has driven out its small percentage of minorities, has blasphemy laws that hound and persecute even other Muslim sects and has been propped up in the last 50 years by a calculating China and a blundering US. How many of your readers know that Pakistani men and women urinated on Americans and the American flag in an attack on the US consulate in Karachi in the 1970s?
The Pakistani ambassador would be loath to recall that incident as well as others where US citizens and workers have been killed and maimed in Pakistan. Has any such incident occurred in India?
Indian editorialists and politicians may attack US policy and challenge US authority in a variety of ways. India may be a chaotic democracy with a vast majority of poor and uneducated people who may not prosper a whit from the latest "cracker blast" that the Vajpayee government decided to showcase to the world. However, no country in the world has the moral right to heap opprobrium on India, least of all Pakistan.
It is detestable that the ambassador uses the examples of the Iraqi and Bosnian situation to call for US and world sanctions against India. I hope your readers will make careful note of the Pakistani hypocrisy and humbuggery when making up their own minds about this situation.
The western response to the nuclear blasts have been predictably paternalistic, including your own editorial: Castigate India, question India's priorities, take simplistic and psychologistic potshots at India's "insecurities," ignore historical context, minimize the Chinese threat and hide at the bottom of your ululations India's rigorous and powerful arguments regarding Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
That you chose to lead the Op-ed page commentaries with Gwynne Dyer's racist and hysterical commentary excerpting outdated comments by a dead polemicist like Golwalkar and follow it up with the Pakistani ambassador's ad hominems tell me more about your mind-set and myopia than anything that your two (short) paragraph editorial did on the 13th. The only "balance" in your Op-ed page was the balanced editorial from the Times of India.
(Published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch).