A Tale of Two Worlds
It isn’t often that one comes across a piece of journalism that encapsulates a modern phenomenon so clearly as Pervez Hoodbhoy’s piece (Two tragedies, two Pakistans, July 2023). Not only did the article shine a spotlight on the gaping cultural and economic chasm between home-grown Pakistanis seeking a better life in the UK/US and those raised and educated in the West, it also recognises how the two groups are valued very differently by the wider indigenous population.
While this situation is also true of other nationalities – consider Iran, for example where individuals linked to the Shah of Iran lead lives of opulence in the West and are, to all intents and purposes, indistinguishable from other members of the super-rich elite, the divide in terms of wealth, religious beliefs and culture seem particularly stark within these two disparate Pakistani groups who ultimately met the same fate.
While it is natural to assume that the extraordinary lengths to rescue those inside the Titan was based solely upon wealth, I believe that it was also because they were perceived as being part of the wider population, unlike the refugees whose conservative values place them outside of it. That such radically different groups should be tempted to step foot into such lethal death traps — albeit for very different reasons — is perhaps the ultimate irony.
Smoke and mirrors
Tanya Vatsa’s article on the breach of the Nova Kakhovka Dam (An act of terror or self-sabotage? July 2023) raises interesting questions about the distortion of the truth in this escalating conflict. While Russia has often stood accused of using misinformation or ‘fake news’ as both a propaganda tool and as a means of extricating itself from accusations or human rights abuses, state-sponsored assassinations or — as in this example, ecocide — apportioning blame is not as straightforward as first thought. Throughout the war, the overwhelming majority of global leaders and media outlets have unquestioningly accepted Kyiv’s version of events as ‘the truth’ but perhaps the ‘real truth’ is slightly more nuanced. Setting aside this particular act of environmental warfare — it is hard to reasonably believe that Ukraine would commit such an act of wanton self-destruction for such relatively small gains as Russia is claiming —the fact remains that the definitive truth is increasing difficult to establish in this protracted war, with both sides aware of the power of propaganda and its usefulness as a weapon of war.
Appetite for peace?
Yvonne Gill’s report (Let’s start with taming the dragon, July 2023) very rightly raises the alarm on China’s nuclear ambitions and clandestine weapons programme. However, the author’s failure to propose any measures to address this crisis goes to the heart of the problem — how does the global community react to this monumental threat given that it is Russia who is facilitating the programme in an agreement with China that dates back to 1951?
As various open-source outlets have reported, Russia’s state-owned energy corporation ROSATOM is providing highly enriched uranium for China’s fast-breeder reactors while ROSATOM’s website claims to have 36 nuclear reactor construction projects on the go at any one time – 3 in Russia and 33 at various stages of completion abroad. There are no easy answers – only a hope that cool heads and common sense prevail but, as history has already demonstrated, nuclear warfare has a precedent.
Jojor Bahru, Malaysia
Refugees: ripe for exploitation
I am saddened by Dr Sudha Ramachandran’s report on corruption among government ministers in Nepal (New levels of graft, July 2023). While we are all aware of how the plight of refugees and economic migrants has been systematically exploited by people traffickers in recent years – often with devastating consequences, that government ministers should be central to this fraud – public servants whose duty is to serve, is shocking and raises important questions.
Firstly, why has the FBI taken such a passive role in this widespread criminal activity and why is the UNHCR silent on the issue? Should we deduce that Nepal is not alone in this this type of state-sponsored criminal activity and that moving refugees from one country to another is simply a money-making exercise for certain states?
San Diego, USA
Letters with full name and complete address may be emailed to email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org Letters may be edited and rewritten for space or