Reaction to our new Prime Minister’s frank remarks in India are warning up nicely – and not just on this blog. Today’s lead story in the Guardian declares that Pakistan president will ‘put David Cameron straight’ over terror claims. And the cartoon shows a hyperactive David Cameron, amongst other things, burning the Pakistan flag over a ‘frank incense’ flame. Yesterday’s offering showed Pakistani delegates paying a visit to David Cameron, too. The comments on the cartoon are an indication of the ire aroused on all sides (and that’s just about the jokes), though it’s probably true that for all this the great British public will remain unmoved as the conflict in Afghanistan grinds on till – when?
As the Guardian’s story today reminds us, ‘India and Pakistan have fought three major wars since partition in 1947 and remain deeply at odds over divided Kashmir.’ This was obvious to me in the late 60s; the school I was working in had a memorial to former students who had died in the last conflict.
At least the US military are taking tea – or more accurately, reading Three Cups of Tea, the book by former army medic Greg Mortenson. This work by a humanitarian worker has recently become required reading for US high command. I had the pleasure of meeting him at the NCTE Convention in Texas in 2008, where it was obvious that this rather unassuming guy was something of a reluctant celebrity. He must be more aware than anyone that all his good work in providing schools for remote areas in Pakistan and Afghanistan is threatened by the combined action of the NATO forces and their enemies. His book is worth reading for a taste of life in a part of the world that normally only comes to our attention when riven by violence, earthquakes or floods. Find out about his Central Asia Institute here.