SANCTIONS on Afghanistan won’t lead to the overthrow of the Taliban. But if they aren’t changed soon, and aid to Afghanistan increased, they will lead to millions of Afghan children and civilians dying in a preventable famine.

Most international financial transactions involving Afghanistan have been closed down. Many aid organisations and charities like Action Against Hunger report the sanctions prevent them providing aid to Afghans.

Sanctions have been proven to fail as a means of removing governments over and over again, from Iraq until the invasion, to Iran to present, North Korea and many others. Each time, over decades, millions of ordinary people go hungry, starve to death, die of treatable illnesses due to shortages of medicines – and the regimes the sanctions target are largely unaffected. Each time we’re told the sanctions don’t affect food or medicines. Each time they do.

So western governments are starving and denying medicines to millions to show that any country whose government defies them will suffer. That’s wrong. It’s the crime of collective punishment in international law. The Taliban are brutal and backwards, but ordinary Afghans aren’t the Taliban. The current sanctions are as brutal in their effects as the Taliban are.

There are alternatives. Action Against Hunger is asking for aid organisations and aid charities to be exempted from sanctions. The generalised sanctions could be ended and replaced with travel bans and smart sanctions on Taliban leaders and front groups.

You can email your MP and governments to ask they push for these changes. And if you can afford to, please donate to Save The Children or Unicef’s Afghan appeal, who will help Afghans even if governments refuse to.

Duncan McFarlane, Carluke.

READ MORE LETTERS: COP26 was a success, but now the hard work really begins


TOM Gordon reports that a "first-rate debate took place at Holyrood last week" on the subject of buffer-zones at abortion facilities ("Government cannot duck abortion buffer zone row", The Herald, November 11). However, for those more familiar with the reality of what actually happens at such clinics, the debate was one of principle against fictitious emotivism.

A series of Freedom of Information requests to Police Scotland dating back to 2017 reveal that there have been no arrests for harassment linked to any of the pro-life vigils. This fits with the UK’s experience, where a Home Office review came to the same conclusion.

Banning pro-life vigils would not only undermine freedom of speech, but it would also fail vulnerable women for whom the peaceful presence of those willing to support them is a last-minute lifeline. If abortion advocates are in favour of choice, then surely what these pro-life vigils offer is true choice, as well as comfort and welcome intercession, to women.

We often imagine that a woman accessing abortion services has firmly made up her mind about the decision, but that is not always the case. Sadly, there is ample evidence that partners and family members can pressure or coerce women to have abortions they do not want.

There is ample legal provision to ensure that intimidation or harassment does not occur. Those who assert the opposite are misinformed. They propose curtailing legal and peaceful activity which if extended to other areas, where difference of opinions prevail, would be a body blow to the democratic freedoms that Scottish society has long championed.

Margaret Akers, Society for the Protection of Unborn Children Services Coordinator, Glasgow.


STUART Waiton's article ("Why are schools promoting transgender agenda", The Herald, November 10) has set me wondering if I should seek help. I thought that schools still primarily existed to teach young people the three Rs and prepare them for the next stage in their development; parents were the people with responsibility to develop their children's mental and physical well-being; and our health service existed to help assist the population cope with illness, whether physical or mental, and where appropriate, initiate treatment to restore the balance.

It now looks as though parents have no role, which almost obliterates the place of the family in our society; mental health has been taken over by schools and minority interest groups and the taxpayer is asked to pick up an increasing bill for people who have not been given the "education tools" to compete in today's fast-changing work-place.

James Watson, Dunbar.


R MURRAY (Letters, November 13) can rest assured that I am well aware that McArthur and Long’s book gave a picture of the unappealing side of Glasgow in the 1930s. I have read the novel. In my letter (November 11), I was merely trying to point out that the title implies that Glasgow is not an ordinary city, nor is it your average city.

A long time ago, a chap from Tarsus, whose name was Paul, declared that he was “a citizen of no mean city”. All right, he probably didn’t say it in English, but that’s the way it appears in translation. Further details may be found in Chapter 21, Verse 39 of The Acts of the Apostles (KJV).

See people who use biblical references in letters to The Herald?

Al Cowie, Milton of Campsie.


AL Cowie and David Miller (Letters, November 11 & 12) brought more than a wry smile regarding memories of aspects of grammar almost forgotten till now.

Perhaps the following might jog a collective memory: "Round the rugged rock the ragged rascal ran", "the buzzing of innumerable bees" or a particular favourite brought up to date: "The First Minister left the meeting in tears and in a taxi."

Alliteration, Onomatopoeia, and Zeugma, they seem to have been consigned to the dust bin of English Grammar.

Robin Johnston, Newton Mearns.