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Indian Democracy Is Right for Kashmir

Americans and other Westerners misunderstand the issue of Kashmir ("Now, will India and Pakistan get serious about peace?" International Outlook, Jan. 14). What is the case for offering a plebiscite in Kashmir? Would the U.S. offer a plebiscite to Florida or Texas?

Jammu and Kashmir are integral to the union of sovereign India. It is the duty of India to fulfill the needs and aspirations of its people in any province--but it cannot happen while there is a security threat to the sovereignty of the country.

What is needed for Jammu and Kashmir is for the 800,000 Indian troops to get out of there, for the people to have their freedom, and for them to have economic progress. But for this they don't need to become another nation-state or join Pakistan. The only solution for the people is a political one. But first the violence must end.

Rahul Saraogi

Madras, India

At least India holds free and fair elections in Kashmir. A Pakistan-occupied Kashmir cannot even dream of having this right. The candidates for any elections in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (among other restrictions) have to declare their allegiance to Pakistan under oath and on affidavit prior to even filing their candidacy papers.

Akshay Bakhai

Brussels, Belgium

Election-rigging and toppling of democratically elected governments are not taking place anywhere in India, including Kashmir. The military ruler of Pakistan requires the exigencies of diverting people's attention from domestic problems. Kashmir comes as a convenient handle. Tacitly supporting cross-border terrorism, lionizing the terrorists as jihadis, and maintaining tension along the border are convenient political distractions. On the people-to-people level, Indians and Pakistanis want peace and good bilateral relations.

K.M.G. Vivekanandam

Madurai, India

"How to help Kashmir" (Editorials, Jan 14) calls for settlement to the "long-running dispute over the Indian-controlled province of Kashmir." What about the dispute over Pakistani- and Chinese-administered parts of the state? Whereas India pursues its claims to Jammu and Kashmir through diplomatic channels, the Pakistani Establishment wages a bloody proxy war, a tactic that regularly hits the headlines. Seemingly, this has convinced BusinessWeek that only the dispute over Indian-administered Kashmir demands resolution.

Abhilash G. Mudaliar

Melbourne, Australia You say that "Weakening the yen won't make Japan strong" (International Business, Dec. 31). But that's exactly what Japan needs now: inflation! If the prices of everything start rising, the Japanese will finally start spending some of the yen they have hidden in their mattresses. So the continued efforts to start inflation through rising prices of imported goods should help. The Japanese do not import much except oil and uranium 235. This is a key component in the present recession--along with banks that should write off bad loans and get started lending again. The Japanese people need to start spending again.

Kirk R. Vestal

Nacogdoches, Tex. Albert Einstein and Mother Teresa line up with Lord Chesterfield in ranking health the highest priority, and Laura D'Andrea Tyson's point about health's links to wealth is even more profound than she and Jeffrey D. Sachs suggest ("For developing countries, health is wealth," Economic Viewpoint, Jan. 14).

A 1995 CIA study on failed nation-states considered more than 600 economic, social, religious, political, demographic, and cultural factors in trying to predict future nation-state failures. They looked at 100 such failures in the past 50 years. They found 30 indicators that were actually useful. The infant-mortality rate topped the list. Health not only contributes to wealth but also contributes to peace and stability--the two other critical factors essential for sound, broad-based economic growth.

Chuck Woolery

Rockville, Md.

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