Given the cold shoulder
Sudha Ramachandran’s article(‘Walking a political tightrope’, June 2023) rightly draws attention to the plight of Afghan students whose Indian visas were revoked when the Taliban seized power in 2021. Of the estimated 13,000 Afghans students enrolled in Indian universities, many returned home during the COVID pandemic. Since the regime change, these students have been prevented from resuming their studies because Afghanistan is not recognised by India as being a legitimate country. They are stuck in limbo with their education hanging in the balance – a fate which is particularly desperate for female students following the sudden closure of female-only schools and colleges when the Taliban took control.
Contrast India’s stance with Pakistan’s, which has offered 4500 fully funded scholarships to Afghan students during the same period. Afghan students rightly feel bitter about their treatment by the India and point out that not only do they contribute to India’s economy, their education can provide much-needed skills to both countries.
Sins of the father
Reconciliation and reparations are themes that are gaining traction across the globe. As Duncan Bartlett outlines in his piece (‘Forgiveness and fear’, June 2023), the sins of the past have come back to haunt present governments. From the colonisation of the Korean Peninsula by the Japanese to the atrocity of the African slave trade by European countries, the issue of reconciliation and reparations is highly complex and controversial.
As Jamaica announced plans last year to ask Britain to compensate it for the Atlantic slave trade (Jamaica has proposed a reparations package of £7.6 billion ($10 billion)), there is debate in Britain about the legitimacy of reparations claims for abominations suffered centuries ago with some even questioning whether Britain should therefore ask Italians to pay for the Roman invasion of Britain. As similar debates are repeated across the world, the time has come when uncomfortable truths and painful histories can no longer be swept under the carpet.
Seeds of distrust
As Amit Agnihotri gives a timeline of the history of the Sino-Indian border conflict (Talking tough, June 2023), what is clear is that trust – or a lack thereof – lies at its core. What should be acknowledged, however, is that the physical characteristics of the 2,100-mile-long border are also aggravating features in this dispute – rivers, lakes andsnowcaps mean that the border is not linear and soldiers can come face-to-face with each other at various points along it.
While it is easy to sympathise with India’s security concerns, simmering tensions inevitably involve the risk of escalation and have the potential to be catastrophic, given that bothsides are nuclear powers. Should the conflict intensify,China and India have much to lose – not least the economic cost of losing a vital trading partner. While this fact may be enough to quell the situation in the short-term, it is hard to see how this conflict can be resolved longer term until China starts to act in good faith.
While Imran Khan’s removal from office has plunged Pakistan into an even greater crisis,Syed Badrul Ahsan’s report (Power struggle, June 2023) led me to consider the role of leadership and the motivation which drives some individuals to seek power. It is often said that pride comes before a fall and Pakistan’s former prime minister’s dramatic fall from grace is a classic example of this. From international cricketer to socialite to holding the highest office in government, one must wonder what drives this individual to follow such a varied career path. Is it a burning desire to serve or a simple ego-driven hunger for power and adulation?
In scenes reminiscent of Donald Trump’s electoral defeat in 2020, Khan’s hanging onto power could be likened to a child who refuses to hand over his toys. Similar charges of ego-driven behaviour may also be levelled at General Munir who, stung by Khan’s audacious attacks on his authority, punished him for the assault on both his standing and self-image. As Pakistan faces crisis on every front, the country deserves leadership from those who have the nation’s interests at heart.
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