I agree with Pervez Musharraf [op-ed, June 1] that "the militancy that was sparked in Afghanistan . . . should have been defused after the Cold War," but I respectfully dissent from the assumption that Pakistan's record in allowing it to fester is beyond reproach.
Under Gen. Musharraf's watch, Pakistan was one of only a few countries that accorded diplomatic recognition to the fundamentalist and despotic Taliban regime. The Pakistani government also acquiesced to or condoned the presence of Osama bin Laden and his band of murderers on Afghan soil.
Had Pakistan not supported the Taliban administration and turned a blind eye to al Qaeda training camps in its back yard, the militancy and extremism that Gen. Musharraf now bemoans would not have degenerated to their present dangerous levels.
As the legendary Israeli diplomat Abba Eban put it, "The harsh truth is more salutary than a smooth evasion."
Pervez Musharraf's call for "enlightened moderation" omitted any call for political development or democratic reform.
Apparently the Muslims of Pakistan, at least, will have to pursue "individual achievement" and "socioeconomic emancipation" under a military strongman. How convenient for the general.
RICHARD L. LOBB
Since he came into power in 1999, Pervez Musharraf has expressed his resolve for an enlightened, modern and progressive Pakistan. However, he has consistently failed to follow up on his words.
A case in point is his failure to take action against the Islamic laws that discriminate against women and that were introduced without discussion or debate by the dictator Mohammed Zia ul-Haq.
The average Pakistani will support Gen. Musharraf in his quest for "enlightened moderation," but he needs to prove that he is willing to walk the walk.
Pervez Musharraf rightly urged Muslims to band together to counter terrorism while prodding the West to put forward a more compassionate hand of friendship toward Islam.
His statement was especially significant because in the 1990s and even a few years ago his government supported extremist organizations. Gen. Musharraf is on record defending the actions of some of these organizations, such as a Kashmiri freedom struggle receiving "moral support" from Pakistan. Clearly, assassination attempts against him, reportedly by Islamic extremists, have helped turn the corner. I hope Pakistan now will become a true strategic partner in the fight against terrorism.
In the same column, I read between the lines an underlying ambition of the general to take on a grander mantle -- to become the leader of the global Islamic community. Perhaps he would be the ideal emissary to the extremist Islamic minority because of his transformation from someone who oversaw acts of terrorism and nuclear proliferation to someone who champions moderation.