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Pakistan and Afghanistan

You repeated outdated accusations about Pakistan’s role in Afghanistan (“What now?”, October 9). Corruption on an industrial scale, the government’s loss of credibility with the Afghan people, infighting, Ashraf Ghani placing himself above the national interest and an intransigence towards dialogue were the real and only reasons for the fall of Kabul.

Each country, and its armed forces, has a responsibility to protect its national interest as it sees fit, especially when hostile forces operate in its backyard. Pakistan has paid a heavy price for supporting the US-led war on terror, with more than 80,000 casualties. After September 11, Pakistan extended its full intelligence cooperation to the West, resulting in the dismantling of Al Qaeda and the capture of hundreds of its operatives. It is regrettable that neither Pakistan’s concerns nor our repeated urges for a more realistic approach have ever really been heard. Our views have always been treated through an icteric lens and reduced to calls to “do more”.

Moreover, comparing the Pakistani economy to that of its regional peers is as odious as it is simplistic. None of the countries in the region have been part of the West’s war on terror like Pakistan has been, none have faced the security fallout, and none have suffered economic losses of more than 150 billion dollars.

If Pakistan wants other countries to help stabilize Afghanistan, it is because we do not want the world to repeat the mistakes of the past by abandoning Afghanistan and leaving a void for terrorists. Clearly the consequences wouldn’t be any different this time around. While the deteriorating security situation and the ensuing refugee crisis will immediately affect Pakistan, they will eventually impact the West.

MUNEER AHMAD
First secretary (press)
Pakistan High Commission
London

Your thoughtful leader on Pakistan argued that the West has a good chance of influencing Islamabad because the elite “send their children to American and European universities and spend vacations in London and Paris” (“An enemy of all time ”, October 9). The penchant for great destinations among problematic leaders is nothing new. Chinese and Russian bigwigs adore American and European places, both for recreation and for educating their offspring. Even Kim Jong Un went to school in Switzerland. Svetlana Alliluyeva, Stalin’s only daughter, rushed to America at the first opportunity. None of these cases led to an improvement in relations, so perhaps one should not over-believe in similar behavior in Pakistan.

MICHAEL KUTTNER
Stege, Denmark

A racial first

The magazine “Blood and Ruins” asserted that the American Navy was exclusively white until 1942 (“Cemetery of the Empires”, October 2). African Americans were allowed into the Navy prior to 1942, but primarily for menial work. Doris Miller, a cook from USS Where is Virginia, was the first black man to receive the Navy Cross for his heroic actions when the ship was bombed in the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

DAVID JONES
Abu Dhabi

Mandatory reading

I read with interest Schumpeter’s column on Bosses Writing Memoirs and Guidance Books (October 2). Former Admiral Group Managing Director Henry Engelhardt has always had a nice turn of phrase, introspection and self-awareness in presenting our annual reports. He also uttered many Henryisms, printed on T-shirts for staff on their last day at the office. I have often wondered if he would write his own book, and that is exactly what he did during the pandemic. It was a guide for the entire management of the company to help them and get the most out of their staff. No rewards or advertising (although it was eventually released), just a desire to improve the performance and well-being of the staff working for the company he co-founded, even though he hadn’t been in charge for years. Perhaps it should be read more broadly.

GARETH ROWLANDS
Bridgend, South Wales

America’s Forgotten Hell

The Chicago fire was indeed a tragic event (“From the ashs”, October 9). However, an even more serious tragedy occurred on the same day, 250 miles north of Peshtigo, Wisconsin. While the Chicago Fire spread over 3.3 square miles and killed 300 people, the Peshtigo Fire covered 2,344 square miles with an estimated death toll of between 1,200 and 2,400. In all respects , the Peshtigo fire was much bigger, more destructive, and more deadly. It remains the deadliest fire in American history to this day, but because the Chicago fire occurred at the same time, it has been largely ignored.

JEAN-HOHOL
Madison, Wisconsin

Ethiopians would suffer

It was quite upsetting to see The Economist join the malicious campaign to suppress Ethiopia’s business advantages under the US Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (“No Favors for Killers,” October 9). The investments in light industry that this preferential trade deal attracts are by no means a major source of tax or foreign exchange revenue for the Ethiopian government, which you want to punish for expelling a handful of UN diplomats. This ill-advised sanction would end up directly destroying over 100,000 jobs and harming the livelihoods of nearly a million semi-skilled workers, mostly women, who struggle below the poverty line.

The irony must have been lost on those who advocate such a malicious political response in the name of humanitarian intervention.

TIGLUN MANAYE MANDEFRO
Hawassa, Ethiopia

Learn through play

Although the formal study of Latin, Greek and ancient history in Britain is today “concentrated in fee-paying and academically selective public schools” (“Bearing Gifts”, October 2), a new generation is schooled in the period in a novel. and in a fun way. Over 10 million copies of “Assassin’s Creed Odyssey”, an action role-playing video game, have been sold worldwide. The game takes place in the years 431-422 Before Christ and presents characters and events in a way that should encourage players of all classes and races to seek more information. This would appeal to Socrates, who believed that “education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel”.

MICHAEL LAGGAN
Newton of Balcanquhal, Perthshire

A physical being

Your review of “God: An Anatomy” suggests that the author of the book, Francesca Stavrakopoulou, dramatically illustrated the truth of Voltaire’s remark that if God created us in his image, we have more than returned the compliment. (“With his outstretched arm”, October 2).

NEVILLE MOSE
Sydney

Certainly God, as far as she exists, is a woman. And she walks among us incarnate. Anyone who has stood in the presence of a Renoir or watched a Sophia Loren movie cannot doubt it.

R. POÉTON
Lenox, Massachusetts

This article appeared in the Letters section of the print edition under the title “On Pakistan, US Navy, Management, Peshtigo Fire, Ethiopia, Learning the Classics, God”


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