Letter to the Editor
Dec. 22, 2012
To the editor:
One Saturday morning this past October, a friend of mine, Billy Kelly, and I were enjoying tea and conversation with a local businessman while sitting in front of his shop on Liberty Square, Lahore, Pakistan. Near us was what appeared to be a private security guard or possibly a militia member complete with Kalashnikov automatic rifle. This was a scene we had become accustomed to during the previous two weeks of travel in Pakistan — armed men standing guard at a multitude of commercial, government and non-governmental offices.
One explanation can be deduced from a story told to me on my first morning in Pakistan. I had gotten up with the morning call to prayer emanating from the local mosque and made my way down to the guesthouse (hotel) dining area. Fakar, the night manager, greeted me and asked if he could join me for breakfast.
As we ate, he explained that the war on Afghanistan was cross border and that more than 40,000 Pakistanis had lost their lives since the U.S. invaded. Before this invasion, there were eight breadwinners in his family — a unit that in this part of the world includes brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts and grandparents and can be as large as 60 people — but now there are only two who are employed. This war has trashed the infrastructure and economy of Pakistan.
Ironically, like the end of the Mayan calendar chickens coming home to roost, the Dec. 22 Daily News-Miner headlines announced that “Begich, Young back NRA proposal” to put armed guards in U.S. schools and “Congress passes military budget” at the tune of a whopping $642.2 billion. I guess Gen. Martin Dempsey, Lockheed Martin and Boeing got their Christmas presents early.
Look for the poor, the elderly and the working class in general to be pushed off the fiscal cliff. A country that invests in death, not in humanity, will reap misery. I only hope Americans can be as kind and generous as I found the people of Pakistan after the return on this investment.
Veterans for Peace, Chap. 146