I congratulate Asian Affairs on article by AS Dulat on Kashmir. It is a coup to get such experienced political figure to give his views on this very important matter for India and Pakistan.

Mr Dulat is correct to say that ‘Kashmir is in a mess again, in some ways worse than in the 1990s’. Normal life is almost at an end in that region and everything is paralysed in the wake of ongoing uprising, with school buildings set on fire, imposing of curfews and violence on the streets which result in many civilian deaths.

It is so sad that we do not have a modern Vajpayee to take the reins today and restore what Mr Dulat says is key to whole situation – confidence. Instead of 1.5 billion people of India and Pakistan going to war time after time over small piece of land, they should, as Mr Dulat urges, be talking. That is the only way to have even small chance of solution and peace.

Rajiv Kochar


Let there be light, not din

Dear Editor

For humans, Diwali is a festival that celebrates unity and love and involves fun, lights and noise. But to other living beings, the firework celebrations can make it seem as if the heavens are falling. Every year, countless animal companions disappear after firework displays send them running for their lives. We must all make sure that these festivities are enjoyable for all living beings by keeping pets indoors when fireworks are going off, and double-check to ensure that they’re wearing collars with identity tags. Whenever possible, discourage friends, family and neighbours from setting off loud firecrackers, as animals have far more sensitive ears than humans. Instead, people should celebrate by lighting up their houses with flickering candles, oil lamps, and colourful rangoli patterns.


Sonul Badiani-Hamment

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals


A truly troubling scenario

Dear Sir

In reference to the seminar at Senate House reported in the October edition of Asian Affairs: the expressed opinions of the panel of experts, that Pakistan is a victim of its own mischief-making and duplicity in its pursuit of its anti-India agenda and expansionist aims in Kashmir, is undoubtedly true. The ‘reaping what they sow’ title is appropriate as Pakistan, with significant financial and motivational help from Saudi Arabia and the US, created the mujahedeen in the 1980s. Islamic fanaticism was deliberately encouraged by that particular triangle of evil and now, these same mujahedeen are attacking their creator. The US and Pakistan are both suffering from indiscriminate terrorist attacks, along with many other countries around the world.

What is most troubling is the fact that the Pakistani military chiefs, the real masters of the country, have a nuclear arsenal and may well use atomic weapons against India when they ultimately lose control of the country. As internal conflicts and violent sectarianism increase, state authority may well collapse and leave nuclear weapons in the hands of religious lunatics who have declared war on all people who do not subscribe to their brand of regressive Islam.

Surely the civilised world must act collectively and decisively before these fanatics have a chance to cause a nuclear war.

John Higgins



A king among men

Insightful article by Richard Cockett in October’s issue, which struck a personal chord. I was fortunate enough to be in Thailand in late October to witness the extraordinary displays of mourning for the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, and was touched by the very real affection in which he was held. For a man not strictly destined to be king, he behaved like a true sovereign, devoting his life to improving the lot of Thailand’s poorest, including the Royal Project Foundation in Chiang Mai, shrimp farm aerators and promoting rural medical care to villages. Yet he was also a real human being who played and composed jazz, loved photography and sports. A rarity among world leaders, he seemed to truly care for his people, and be one of them. I feel for them in their loss.


Pamela Williams


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