Readers were eager to let us know that while official reaction to the earthquake was slow and in some ways inadequate, average citizens were quick to participate in the aid and recovery efforts that united all
The earthquake that hit Kashmir brought more than just grief and devastation to this underdeveloped region [Oct. 24]. More than 50,000 people are dead, hundreds of thousands are injured, a whole generation has disappeared, children are orphans, and villages are completely destroyed. But not for a single moment was Pakistan defeated by this horrendous situation. In the aftermath of the earthquake, Pakistan's citizens got together and responded to calls for help, united as a nation for a common cause. Virtually every household supported the relief effort. People realized that even the most minute contribution meant a lot. Citizens left their jobs and universities to go to affected areas and help in any way they could. Expatriate Pakistanis all over the world expressed their desire to adopt orphans. It was as if the whole country had suddenly changed from a self-interested, disunited nation into a warmhearted cohesive force facing the disaster. That made me realize that in any hour of need, Pakistan shall not fail.
Agha Ali Murtaza
The quick response by the international community to this terrible calamity is profoundly appreciated. We are thankful to all those who responded with their time, money and prayers. Our special thanks to those who have come from abroad to assist in the ongoing relief efforts. It is amazing how a tragic event can sometimes bring out the best in us. Compassion and concern give mankind hope that we can coexist on this planet as one global family.
The west perceives US Muslims in general and Pakistanis in particular as terrorists. Catastrophes like Hurricane Katrina and the Kashmir earthquake can serve as eye openers. In both cases, governmental bureaucratic structures failed terribly. But if you saw TV coverage after the quake, you could not miss the fact that Pakistanis were painstakingly helping their fellow citizens as soon as they could. We are basically very compassionate and benevolent people, ready to sacrifice whatever we can to help others in their hour of need. That is what the Koran teaches us.
China's Space Ambitions
Re "Asia's Space Race" [oct. 17]: China may have a space program and a supposedly booming economy, but it is still a communist state with skewed priorities. China's ability to launch a manned space probe is representative not of technological superiority but of inefficient resource allocation. The Chinese people would be better off if the country's resources were focused on finding solutions to such pressing issues as mounting pollution levels, intellectual-property violations, inefficient and outdated state-owned enterprises and widespread corruption.
Your story on the Iraqi insurgent leader "Abu Qaqa al-Tamimi" (a pseudonym), who trains and equips suicide bombers [Oct. 24], provided another example of the dangerous weeds that grow in the pastures of religion. Killing Americans and his own people is what al-Tamimi does. He uses children and young people as his tools. The innocent are used to kill the innocent. This will be a long war. It will last until people put humanity ahead of fanatic religious beliefs that are offered up by the powerful few who want to control the many.
Dorse A. Lanpher
Glendale, California, U.S.
Tale of a Traitor
The excerpt from the autobiography of Charles Robert Jenkins, the U.S. Army sergeant who left his post in South Korea and fled to the communist North in 1965 [Oct. 24], will generate a lot of sympathy for him. We shouldn't forget, however, that he deserted because he was scared of going to Vietnam. Legally, Jenkins is a free man now, having been discharged from the U.S. military. But knowing about those who served honorably in Korea, Vietnam, the first Gulf War, Afghanistan and Iraq, I have difficulty feeling any sympathy for that coward.
Anaheim, California, U.S.
Jenkins doesn't deserve the leniency he has received. His maltreatment by the North Koreans should not be used as an excuse. It was Jenkins' own actions that led him to the "hell" of North Korea. He showed his true cowardly nature by deserting the country he was fighting for and then serving as a propaganda tool for the enemy. The U.S. has let a man who is far from a patriot get off lightly. At least Jenkins has decided to live in Japan. The U.S. has no room for traitors.
Beaverton, Oregon, U.S. Tarnished Pearl
As our Milestone on the death of Uganda's former leader Milton Obote pointed out [Oct. 24], he went from determined and skillful architect of his country's independence from Britain to repressive politician. TIME described the devastating condition of Uganda under his rule 21 years ago [Aug. 20, 1984]:
"'Cambodia, African-style.' That is how some Westerners describe Uganda today ... They contend that the government of President Apollo Milton Obote ... has caused the deaths of as many as 100,000 Ugandan civilians and brought another 150,000 to the brink of starvation in a ruthless campaign to wipe out guerrillas ... Said U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights Elliott Abrams during a congressional hearing ... 'Repeated reports of large-scale civilian massacres, forced starvation and impeded humanitarian relief operations indicate that Uganda has one of the most serious human rights problems in the world today' ... At one time known as the 'Pearl of Africa,' Uganda has been beset by tribal rivalries ever since it won its independence from Britain in 1962 ... Ugandan soldiers have destroyed villages and crops and herded civilians into detention camps in an effort, as Abrams put it, 'to dry up the civilian sea that the guerrillas swim in' ... Some analysts suspect that the army may be out of Obote's control."