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Sunday, January 21, 2007

# Posted 12:50 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

THIS IS PAKISTAN: Carlotta Gall of the New York Times has been aggressively covering support for the Taliban provided by the Pakistani intelligence services. Although the government of Pakistan insists that it supports the US and NATO against the Taliban, it seems that influential figures in Pakistan consider Ms. Gall to be the greater threat. In a rare first-person narrative in this morning's Times, she describes her experiences in Quetta:
My photographer, Akhtar Soomro, and I were followed over several days of reporting in Quetta by plainclothes intelligence officials who were posted at our respective hotels. That is not unusual in Pakistan, where accredited journalists are free to travel and report, but their movements, phone calls and interviews are often monitored.

On our fifth and last day in Quetta, Dec. 19, four plainclothesmen detained Mr. Soomro at his hotel downtown and seized his computer and photo equipment.

They raided my hotel room that evening, using a key card to open the door and then breaking through the chain that I had locked from the inside. They seized a computer, notebooks and a cellphone.

One agent punched me twice in the face and head and knocked me to the floor. I was left with bruises on my arms, temple and cheekbone, swelling on my eye and a sprained knee.

One of the men told me that I was not permitted to visit Pashtunabad, a neighborhood in Quetta, and that it was forbidden to interview members of the Taliban.

The men did not reveal their identity but said we could apply to the Special Branch of the Interior Ministry for our belongings the next day.

After the intervention of the minister of state for information and broadcasting, Tariq Azim Khan, my belongings were returned several hours later. Mr. Soomro was released after more than five hours in detention.

Since then it has become clear that intelligence agents copied data from our computers, notebooks and cellphones and have tracked down contacts and acquaintances in Quetta.
All the people I interviewed were subsequently visited by intelligence agents, and local journalists who helped me were later questioned by Pakistan’s intelligence service, the Inter-Services Intelligence.

Mr. Soomro has been warned not to work for The New York Times or any other foreign news organization.
The war continues.
(5) opinions -- Add your opinion

Comments:
This not exactly on point, but nor is it entirely irrelevant

At least some quarters of Pakistan are preparing for a hostile showdown with the United States:

Mirza Aslam Beg, Pakistan's Chief of Army Staff from 1988-1991, has stated that Pakistan is on the US's "hit list" - next in line after Iran.

See here --

http://www.gulf-times.com/site/topics/article.asp?cu_no=2&item_no=128426&version=1&template_id=41&parent_id=23
 
Pakistan is aheah of us if they are closely watching the New Your times. They have be giving away our secrets, I am sure Pakistan would like to protect theirs.
 
Anon,
Mirza Beg is an interesting person, but it must be recognised he is both a long-standing hawk and an opponent of close ties with the United States; also, he lies outside Musharraf's good graces and the policy mainstream, and has done since the Habib bank scandal in 1994 and A.Q. Khan's banishment. He is not really to be regarded as indicative of views in Pakistani policy circles, though he ought be given credit for his role in the transition from military rule to Benazir. (Though then again perhaps not too much credit: thanks largely to Beg, Benazir was not permitted any access either to the nuclear programme or to the Afghan cell, both of which remained in military hands.)
 
There's a great deal of mention of my country in the press these days, from people who do not actually follow the multiple stories that constitute its day to day reality. This is ALSO Pakistan:

It is true that Pakistan tops the list for journalist abductions and killings in South Asia the past year, followed by Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and India. According to the SAFMA report, here.

People within parliament are aware of all this and certain factions, notably ex-journalist Sherry Rehman, also responsible for the implementation of the recent and controversial Women's Protection Bill, have raised an outcry.

For a war to continue, perhaps you should consider doing some more groundwork.
 
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