Saturday, March 25, 2006

# Posted 5:26 AM by Patrick Belton  

BABY'S FIRST PASHTUNS: Or Pathans, as they and everyone else call themselves, but, as with Mumbai in that rather larger nation on this subcontinent, you're meant to sound endearingly post-colonial and call them Pashtuns. That sorted,

I spoke yesterday with between two and five Pathans, if you count the dodgy quiet ones. They had warm words for Musharaff - a good man, they agreed, with the country's interests at heart. With religiously-related violence, they were sympathetic to it in Iraq (the Americans had taken over the country, which was all-round considered to be rather unsporting), but not outside it as, their words, they were civilians. They didn't think highly of the Taliban or Al-Qa'ida, people who said they were Muslim but, their words again, did bad things. The MMA were rather better sorts - less strict, more Pakistani.

Pieces I would like to write from here: relations between the centre and the tribal regions, which the nation/army (they're rather the same thing here, you know) entered in 2003 on a semi-permanent basis for the first time since the raj, amid some amount of public works and school construction (I'm told DFID is particularly active there); relations between the centre and the MMA-controlled NWFP, given the army's famously love-hate relationship with the mullahs; a piece if it can be done on what it's actually like in Waziristan, rumours aside; spending a day at a Madrassah, or rather two perhaps, one a 'model' Musharaff madrassah and one of the ones with famous alumni. I'd like to interview political leaders in NWFP like Senator Asfandayar Wali, head of the ANP (the Pashtun regionalist party decimated by the MMA in the last elections). I'd like to lose this taxi driver.

I'd say comment, but it's not like I can read my own blog from here.
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