Pakistan started its jihad against India in Kashmir in November 1989 and its first suicide attack against civilians took place in Srinagar on 25 December 2000 – long before the west's invasion of Afghanistan.
The Taliban, too, appeared in the region in the middle of 1990, but the political mainsprings behind them, namely Pakistan's ambition to change the balance of power equation on its eastern and western border via state-sponsored terrorism, were long present in the Pakistani body politic. The Afghan war merely provided cash and international support that Pakistan needed to give practical shape to its regional ambition.
The Talibanisation of Pakistan and the threat to its internal stability stem from Islamabad's insistence on employing terrorism as a state policy towards its neighbours, a case of the tail wagging the dog. Mr Khan's attempt to blame the west, under these circumstances, is tantamount to placing the cart before the horse.
Randhir Singh Bains
Gants Hill, Essex
As Imran Khan says in his despairing commentary, the murderous polarisation of religious and political life in Pakistan would not have arisen without our "war on terrorism". This goes both for the murder of a liberal politician and the calls by Muslim villagers for the hanging of a Christian woman accused of blasphemy.
The polarisation that Khan laments is not confined to Pakistan but sweeps across much of the Muslim world as one response to serial military adventures by western powers, from crusades through colonial wars and the establishment of Israel to current interventions in Iraq, Afghanistan and "tribal areas" of Pakistan.
Oddly, another report in the same Observer features another Muslim village, Bil'in in West Bank Palestine ("Mother tells of fresh tragedy", World). Here, as a Muslim mother mourns the death of her daughter in a protest at the Israeli "separation fence" the polarisation follows different lines.
The Muslim villagers who defy lethal gas shells and liquid filth are joined by Jews and Christians. People of several religions or none are united by a commitment to human rights and international law. In this naive view, a wall that cuts a village from its land is unacceptable, as is the use of armed force against unarmed protesters.
At her daughter's funeral, the bereaved mother said she did not seek revenge. That was a matter for God, but she called on "the people of Israel to take a firm stand against the occupation... because only together will we be able to put an end to the tragedy of our two peoples".
So much unnecessary suffering is caused by "religion". If miracles could happen (sadly not, as we know) nothing would be more wonderful than that one of the fanatical mullah thugs could come back from the dead and state to the world: "Sorry mates, we were all so terribly wrong for such a long time. There is no god. Nothing! Please pass me Dawkins's book."
Also one can't escape noticing that most of the Islamic states are failed (Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, Afghanistan, Bangladesh etc), have a very low literacy rate and are economically unsuccessful. Well, the promise is then in the other life!
Religious fundamentalists are not how they are because they are convinced that they are right, but because they are terrified they are wrong. Attempts to enshrine blasphemy in laws world-wide do nothing to change this view.