Leave, convert or perish: The fate of Afghanistan’s minorities

President Biden’s decision to ‘end the war in Afghanistan’ means the complete withdrawal of 3,500 US troops by the 20th anniversary of 9/11. However, what may be domestically popular — particularly among Trump voters — will soon have consequences for the Afghans left unguarded by foreign troops. The Taleban and other jihadist militias are already making significant territorial gains while nuclear Pakistan will be strengthened by the vacuum left by the US military. But it is Afghanistan’s non-Muslims who will really suffer. Extinction is a word normally associated with dinosaurs — but it’s no exaggeration to say some minority religions (including my own) will now face that fate at the

Letters: Why Hugh Dowding deserves a statue

Police relations Sir: As a former Met Police officer, with a similar background to Kevin Hurley, I was surprised how much I disagreed with his article (‘Cop out’, 27 June). Central to this was the lack of emphasis he placed on the attitude of police officers. The emphasis on violent gang crime undoubtedly leads to a distortion in how young black men are perceived by the police, and this in turn can quickly lead to confrontation on the street. The attitude of young police officers is key to avoiding an escalating reaction between them and members of the public. Senior officers need to develop more holistic ways of addressing crime,

When will Britain take a stand against Pakistan?

Well, now that we’re all fired up about Britain’s moral role in the world courtesy of Theresa May, who is indignant about cuts to the overseas aid budget, how about moving on to Pakistan? This week a Pakistani court has ruled that a 12-year-old Christian girl, Farah Shaheen, consented to her marriage with an alleged abductor over twice her age and consented freely to convert to Islam. When the girl was recovered from the household of Khisar Ahmed Ali in December, she was reportedly too traumatised to speak about what happened to her over the five months since she, ah, consented to marry a 29-year-old and convert to Islam. But according to

Spectacular and mind-expanding: Tantra at the British Museum reviewed

A great temple of the goddess Tara can be found at Tarapith in West Bengal. But her true abode, in the view of many devotees, is not this sacred structure itself but the adjacent, eerily smoking cremation ground. There she can be glimpsed in the shadows at midnight, it is believed, drinking the blood of the goats sacrificed to her during the day. Many holy men and women live in that grisly spot too, adorned with dreadlocks, smeared with ash, and dwelling in huts decorated with lines of skulls painted crimson. As a domestic setting this wouldn’t suit everybody. But the varieties of religious experience (to borrow the title of

Letters: We must sing again

Growing pains Sir: James Forsyth (‘Rewiring the state’, 4 July) shocked this loyal Spectator reader with the following: ‘Even before Covid, this country was in a productivity crisis and it’s nigh-on impossible to improve productivity without government involvement. Increasing productivity requires improvements to be made to physical and digital infrastructure and to the skill base, and those need public investment.’ James clearly has not studied the sources of productivity growth (or lack of it). In the 50 years to 2008, the UK experienced around 2 per cent p.a. growth in real Gross Value Added per hour worked — which is what politicians generally mean when they talk about productivity. Since

The success of British Indians is troubling for some. Why?

When Priti Patel told Labour MPs that she didn’t need any lectures on racism, they seemed to take it as a declaration of war. Last week, 32 of them signed a letter accusing the Home Secretary of ‘gaslighting’ black people’s experiences. The social media warriors were out in force, rebuking her for not being authentically ethnic. She was attacked for being a ‘coconut’, brown on the outside and white on the inside. It’s not the first time she has faced hostility for not conforming to expectations: one article last year called her ‘a product of internalised whiteness’. Mahatma Gandhi is also now under fire, with a petition to remove his