Significant, positive change is happening in Pakistan

Thomas Houlahan’s May 28th piece, “Pakistan: Time for the United States to Choose,” conveniently ignores almost 28 months of the methodological, incremental expansion of democratic infrastructure and governance in Pakistan which followed a decade of dictatorship.

After the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, Pakistan united around common democratic principles and values. A free and democratic election resulted in a victory by the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and our new party leader, Asif Ali Zardari, gained 70 percent of the vote as a presidential candidate. Among the successes during this time: A parliament was seated; a prime minister was selected by consensus for the first time in history; a woman was elected speaker of our National Assembly for the first time in any Muslim Nation.

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The PPP has committed to defeating terrorism in Pakistan and re-orienting our society to address long-neglected human needs.

Mr. Houlahan’s fails to mention that both of President Zardari’s sisters, Dr. Azra Fazal and Faryal Talpur were democratically elected politicians under the previous government and popularly elected once again into this assembly. The president certainly did not place them there. In fact, the president was in Gen. Pervez Musharraf’s jails while his sisters bravely contested elections under Musharraf’s dictatorship.

All of these critical developments on Pakistan’s path back to democracy crested last month with the passage of the 18th amendment, which relinquished key powers of the president for the sake of restoring the constitutional, democratic rule of law envisioned by our leaders forty years ago.

Many Pakistani politicians have talked change, but the government of Prime Minister Yusuf Gilani and President Asif Ali Zardari is in the midst of rebuilding the institutions of government that were destroyed when former military dictator Musharraf was in power.

Mr. Houlahan neglects to talk about these very significant and positive developments in Pakistan, just as he ignores the fact that Pakistan is fighting the World’s War a war on terror, a battle that has taken the lives of four thousand civilians, two thousand troops and police and our greatest political leader. Fighting the war on terror has consumed billions of dollars that had been targeted towards the development of new power projects and other critical infrastructure projects. Pakistan is very much a nation at war, and as we fight for our existence, we also fight to undo the vestiges of dictatorship that have crippled our economy and undermined civil society.

Contrary to Mr. Houlahan’s suggestion, the PPP government of Pakistan has fought for press freedom and judicial independence. The party and the government don’t fear accountability and transparency, we welcome it as a core of our party manifesto.

From Farahnaz Ispahani, Member of the National Assembly, Media advisor to the Co-Chairperson, Pakistan Peoples Party, President Asif Ali Zardari, Islamabad, Pakistan

Californians are too savvy to believe Brown’s big lie

Loose lips sink ships, and Jerry Brown sunk his own political aspirations by comparing his opponent for California’s governor, Meg Whitman, to Nazi Germany’s propagandist Joseph Goebbels. 

Adopting Joseph Goebbels’s propaganda strategy that, if you are going to lie, make it a big lie no matter how ridiculous, Brown hopes to brainwash Californians into believing Whitman is Hitler by repeating his own lie about her.

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Californians living in the 21st century with unlimited facts and knowledge, courtesy of the Internet, have more savvy than Germans living in the depths of the Great Depression in the 1930s.

When Jerry Brown asserts his lie, he looks ridiculous to the voters. Californians need fresh faces on its political landscape, not an aging man who only knows how to wrap his mind around the past.   

From Helen Logan Tackett, Fullerton, Calif.