<i>IoS</i> letters, emails & online postings (2 August 2009)

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Crispin Black says that the main terrorist threats to the UK emanate from Pakistan and radicalised British Pakistanis ("The doubts about our mission that refuse to go away", 26 July). That is because the presence of Nato forces in Afghanistan prevents the Taliban from regaining power and once again acting as the main base for al-Qa'ida. If ever that did happen we would be faced with a very different type of situation.

While Pakistan (mainly through the madrasas) provides the theological/ideological inspiration, it is Afghanistan that has provided the principal base of active operations and would almost certainly do so again. As for the "radicalised British Pakistanis", it's true that they already exist. However, with the Taliban/al-Qa'ida in control in Afghanistan they would have a "Mecca" to inspire them and look to, and to orchestrate their activities, just as Moscow provided such a Mecca for orthodox Communists during the Cold War.

While 42 countries are paying lip service to the operation in Afghanistan, only about half a dozen are present there in sufficient numbers to make a real difference, which inevitably means that too much of the burden is falling on the US and Britain, and the desired result is made that much more difficult to achieve.

Eric Taylor

via email

The war has cost the UK more than £12bn so far. The emotional cost can never be calculated. Has anyone worked out the size of the carbon footprint yet?

Jennifer Bell

Tiverton, Devon

Harry Patch was right to question us all about men around tables starting and ending the war into which they were so eager to conscript him ("The last of the noblest generation", 26 July). Conscripts were sacrificed by those men to preserve their privileged lifestyles, and the war stopped because its continuance would have destroyed those lifestyles completely. For them, Harry Patch suffered decades of anguish.

Robin Turner


Abolishing private schools would help to correct the bias in access to the most desirable universities and professions, but getting rid of pernicious class structures has to start at the top ("There is a solution to class-ridden Britain", 26 July). Cut the Civil List and let the Royals sell horses, jewellery or property to the highest bidder. Once they are living in a normal house, if any of them wants to be president, they can run for election. One or two might be preferable to an ex-prime minister, but I would vote for Alan Bennett.

Simon Sweeney

Sheriff Hutton, York

The United Kingdom Human Trafficking Centre has made a major contribution to developing the national capacity to get to grips with trafficking, including rolling out awareness packages to more than 66,000 police officers and embedding new training in the police curriculum ("Traffickers 'safer' in UK as funding for police unit dropped", 19 July). Three years ago human trafficking was not a prominent issue on the radar of law enforcement agencies. Today it has a place on the agenda of all of them. Partners may hold different views on how trafficking is best tackled, but we all agree this horrific crime must be stopped.

Nick Kinsella

Head of UK Human Trafficking Centre, Sheffield, South Yorkshire

Jonathan Owen highlights that chicken imported from Brazil is better in terms of the energy used to farm it than locally raised chicken ("If you want to go green, buy Spanish strawberries", 26 July). However, technological advances in poultry-farm construction in the UK are significantly reducing energy consumption. New technology like underfloor heating means that new poultry houses in the UK can operate with reduced carbon emissions.

Buying locally enables our farmers to invest for when we need to produce more to feed a growing population. Our growers can protect the environment and contribute to the country's energy security.

Liz Falkingham

Director of Communications, NFU Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire

"Buy Spanish strawberries"? In 2007, your sister paper, The Independent, reported that demand for Spanish strawberries was leading to dangerous depletion of the groundwater around the Doñana wetlands, threatening catastrophic damage to this unique centre of biodiversity and World Heritage Site.

Jim Roland

London NW11

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Letters to the Editor, Independent on Sunday, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5HF; email: sundayletters@independent.co.uk (no attachments, please); fax: 020-7005 2627; online: independent.co.uk/dayinapage/2009/August/2