Washington's whims
It is unfortunate that US President George W. Bush is unwilling to accept Hamas as a party in the peace talks with Israel unless it met certain conditions ("Israel must talk to Hamas", Gulf News, January 30).

Since Palestinians have chosen Hamas as their representative, the choice should be honoured by all the countries.

The US, like in other previous instances, is following double standards here too.

Washington will accept an elected regime only if it suits its whims. Is this democracy?
From Mr M. Uvais

Right to take decisions
Taking exception to India's decision to invest in a Syrian oilfield in partnership with China, the US has asked the Indian government to "reconsider" its proposed investment.

Now, India is being told whom to do business with and where it should stay away from.

Today, it is Iran and Syria. Tomorrow, it may be Sudan or Myanmar or Venezuela or some other place.

At stake is not just India's energy security but also the country's right to take decisions on its own.
From Mr M. Sadiq

Fire alert
The news of the Sharjah blaze ("Two killed as massive fire guts building", Gulf News, January 28) sent shudders down my spine.

Imagine a fire breaking out in any of the popular stores on Salam Street or Shaikh Hamdan Street in Abu Dhabi which keep goods in basements and even upper floors.

Most of these outlets have just one exit - the main entrance.

There are no fire signs or escape routes. The authorities should look into this before a calamity strikes.
From Mr A.M. Rao
Abu Dhabi

Waiting for disaster?
After the Sharjah fire, a senior civil defence official said storing flammable materials in residential buildings is illegal.

I stay in a building in Abu Shagara area which has a gas cylinder store on the ground floor.

The danger of having such a shop in a residential building has been reported several times by the media, but there has been no action either from the landlord or the authorities.

Are we waiting for another disaster?
From Mr V. Mathew

Poison pills
A few days ago, the municipality came to poison some dogs which lived in our neighbourhood.

We tried to stop them, saying we would find a home for them, but the personnel refused to listen.

The puppies were poisoned and suffered a long, cruel death in front of innocent children. Sadly, my three-month-old dog ate a piece of the poisoned meat and died.

The municipality should rethink its methods for handling such issues.
From A Reader
Name withheld by request

Promotional problems
Apropos Mr A. Rehan's letter "Counting Cash" (Gulf News, January 19). I spent Dh6,000 on one transaction during the promotion and expected to receive Dh300 as five per cent cash-back.

On checking with Mashreq Bank customer service, I was told it's not entirely five per cent cash-back, but the amount equivalent to the annual fees paid by me or a maximum amount of Dh150.

How does this calculate to 5 per cent cash-back?

If that is the case, MashreqBank should not advertise five per cent cash-back, rather it should say "maximum" cash-back not to exceed Dh150. If this is not manipulation, what is?
From A Reader
Name withheld by request

The management of Mashreq Bank replies:
In all the advertisements for the cash-back promotion it was clearly explained that the offer was restricted to a maximum of Dh550 for Platinum cards, Dh400 for Gold cards and Dh150 for Classic cards, just as your reader suggests.

Life goes on
I agree in part with Ms U.A. Khan's observations in her letter "A big waste" (Gulf News, January 29) about helping the earthquake victims.

We all - the Pakistani government and the world community - have tried whole-heartedly to help the victims. But then, life has to move on for others.

Such fountains and buildings can become tourist attractions and help attract foreign investment which Pakistan needs.

I ask Ms Khan if life has stopped completely for her after the earthquake? Please, let us live and let live.
From Mr S. Asif

Death for rapists
With reference to the news item "Rapist told to pay Dh55,000 as compensation to victim" (Gulf News, January 27). The Egyptian delivery man who raped the boy must be a shameless man.

If someone rapes his young son or brother will he tolerate it? He, or any child rapist, should be sentenced to death or at least be given a life term.

He wrecked a young boy's life and is a danger to the society. Who knows how many more shameful acts he will commit after he is released?
From Mr S.Y. Ahmed

Spiritual cricket
The Indo-Pak Test series has sparked great interest among all cricket fans.

However, what attracted me is the transformation of the Pakistani team into a disciplined and well-knit unit.

If not entirely, much of this can be attributed to the team's enhanced spirituality.

The players' regularity in religious offerings, visits to Islamic congregations and most recently their refusal to play during Ramadan are instances.

This proves that close association with religion can only have positive effects on individuals and groups.
From Mr O. Khan