Afghanistan must confront its tribal divisions

Letters to the editor from readers

US helicopters fly over the Afghan capital Kabul. A reader supports a proposal by a former US ambassador to India to partition Afghanistan along tribal lines. Shan Marai / AFP
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I refer to Shaukat Qadir's opinion article Balkanisation of Afghanistan cuts against the grain (February 17) which argued against a potential partition of the country along tribal lines, as proposed by Robert Blackwill, a former US ambassador to India.

This article is very misleading. Pashtuns are only dominant in the southeast and they are a small minority in Kunduz Province. Most of these Pashtuns from Kunduz have been displaced and have taken refuge in Pakistan today.

Afghanistan was not created by Ahmad Shah Durrani. Afghanistan before 1898 was ruled by small city-states and khans and it was in fact the imperialists who created Afghanistan and the term Afghanistan was forced on the country by the British.

Afghanistan's continued existence will only promote and influence extremism in other countries bordering it. Partition is the only solution. Northern and western Afghanistan is dominated and fully inhabited by Tajiks and Hazaras, who both speak languages related to Farsi.

If the US doesn't endorse this plan of Mr Blackwill, the Tajiks and Hazaras will partition the country through another civil war.

Rostam Khorasani, Abu Dhabi

Two views on widepread unrest

It is becoming fashionable to ignite protests for "democratic reforms" in many Middle East countries. Now, Bahrain is afflicted with this fad and virus. However, Bahrain does not have grinding levels of poverty or unemployment that prevail in many countries. Bahrain is a rich country, with outstanding infrastructure .

Bahrain has excellent civic infrastructure, including broad roads, excellent hotels, restaurants, hyper markets and a world class airport.

The bridge connecting Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, the King Fahd Causeway, is 25 kilometres long, and the longest bridge in the Middle East.

I am therefore very sorry to read about the disturbances there. The protests in Tunisia and Egypt had an economic base. But Bahrainis are not poor. The per capita income is $38,400 (Dh141,000).

The king of Bahrain,  Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, has been a tireless champion of democratic reforms. He also abolished the State Security Law and the State Security Court, which permitted the government to detain individuals without trial for up to three years.

He is a practical ruler and has modernised the country where women are free to study, drive, work and dress as they deem fit.

Some of the TV news channels are sensationalising events, merely focusing on the demonstrations, without providing a total picture of the country and its achievements. And many protesters are being mesmerised by the new electronic toys of our times like Facebook.

So, the protesters in Bahrain should be prudent and not upset the apple cart. In life, one must learn to count one's blessings. What is the use of democratic reforms, if there is no food on the plate, no school to go to, no road to walk on and no home to live in?

At least Bahrainis have all the basics of life.

Rajendra K Aneja, Dubai

Autocratic rulers have been overthrown in Tunisia and Egypt, political protests continue in countries including Libya, Algeria, Iran, Jordan, Kuwait, Bahrain and Yemen, while independent political parties are currently attempting to form in Saudi Arabia.

Throughout major parts of the Middle East and North Africa we are seeing the age-old struggle of countries attempting to shake loose from despotism in the name of increased economic equality, freedom of speech, fair and equitable governance, and other basic human liberties.

Qani Belul, Abu Dhabi

Sleepless from unwanted SMS

Invariably I receive SMS messages at night while I am sleeping from vendors, banks, other people and Etisalat and Du. Such SMS continue the whole day and then well into the night. It is not possible for some to switch the mobile off or even to put it on silent.

Maybe irresponsible service providers collect millions of messages and cannot send them all in the daytime and hence the process continues unabated into the night.

I get calls from numerous banks offering credit cards and other useless products. There is no way to stop them and sometimes the salespersons from the same bank keep calling one after another and do not take a polite no for an answer.

Kanwar Hayat, Dubai

A new generation of debaters

I refer to the news article You want an argument? Very much so, say these students (February 20) which reported on students in 14 schools who have joined debating societies.What these kids are doing is fantastic. It is really encouraging to see this generation is taking the initiative to lead and learn about the world around them. Kudos to you.

George Jones, Dubai