Sean Cronin's article (NCE 12 February) reminded me of my travels in Afghanistan more than 30 years ago. The reference to James Mitchener's (sic) experience in 1946 could give the impression there has not previously been a modern highway between Kabul and Kandahar.
However in the late 1960s there were good modern highways from Kabul to Kandahar and on to Herat, east towards the Pakistan border and the Khyber Pass and north via the Salang Pass and Tunnel to Mazar-i-Sharif. I drove on all these routes.
I understood that they had been built with American and Russian money. Traffic levels were extremely low away from the main towns and in 1971 I drove from Herat to Kabul (more than 1,000 km) in under 12 hours. The turmoil which has afflicted this amazing country in the intervening years appears to have resulted in the complete break-up of the road through lack of maintenance.
Gordon Porter (M), 83 Riddlesdown Road, Purley, Surrey, CR8 1DH