The Feb. 1 op-ed piece by Rowland Evans and Robert Novak not only was misleading but used facts selectively to prove a dubious thesis.

It is not for me to comment on the columnists' view that Pakistan is the United States' "strongest Asian ally," though a burned American Embassy in Islamabad, and violation of U.S. laws in the clandestine acquisition of nuclear technology in Philadelphia and Houston, are strange manifestations of such an alliance. The references to India -- in particular, the slanted description of India's relations with the U.S.S.R. -- are what we find objectionable. India is a nonaligned nation and has close and mutually beneficial relations with the U.S.S.R, just as it has close and mutually beneficial relations with the United States and other countries.

Perhaps the most questionable element of their thesis is their assumption that friendship with one must be at the cost of friendship with the other. If the administration and Congress are impervious to the "potential menace of the tightening Soviet-Indian alliance," I would venture to suggest that this may be because it is not founded on reality. India's nonaligned foreign policy is well understood and recognized.

Messrs. Evans and Novak ignore basic facts of both geography and history. The incongruity of placing two nations such as India and Pakistan at par should have been apparent even to them. India has seven times Pakistan's population and is five times Pakistan's size. The border with Pakistan is only India's third longest. The naval concerns of a nation, as even these worthy scribes must concede, must be related to the length of its coastline. But it is obviously inconvenient to their thesis that India's coastline is 4,700 miles and Pakistan's is only 650 miles. And even these 650 miles are not shared with landlocked Afghanistan, though that does not seem to prevent "the Afghan threat" from justifying the supply of Harpoon missiles to Pakistan's navy.

Messrs. Evans and Novak have painted a picture in which Indian-U.S. relations -- economic, commercial, cultural and even defense -- have no place. That is something which those on both sides who are striving to further improve these relations would find very difficult to accept. Although we can constructively argue and debate issues and policies when some regard is given to facts and the truth, it is difficult to deal similarly with unalloyed prejudice and misconceptions.


Press Counselor, Embassy of India