December 22, 2006Foreign Affairs

Roughed up for the gall

The real thugs of the Frontier

This is an archived blog post from The Acorn.

It’s not ironical. It is symbolic. Carlotta Gall, an intrepid New York Times journalist, spent several weeks in the Taliban-infested areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan. She filed stories pointing out that not only were the Taliban in effective control of the tribal areas, but that the Pakistani government was still supporting them. And the only thugs who roughed her up were not wild-eyed jihadis but those from Pakistan’s intelligence agencies.

Four men later broke into her room in a separate hotel, hit her and took away some of her belongings. Gall said she had bruises on her arms, temple, and cheekbone, swelling on her left eye and a sprained knee.

“They were extremely aggressive and abusive. The leader, who spoke English, refused to show any ID,” Gall said. The men accused of her of being in Quetta, the restive capital of Baluchistan province near the Afghan border, without permission. They said she had been interviewing Taliban members in Pashtunabad, a section of Quetta. Pakistan prides itself on not restricting journalists’ travel to areas other than the Federally Administered Tribal Areas in the Northwest Frontier Province.

When Gall tried to stop them from taking the photographer Soomro, she was told, “He is Pakistani, we can do whatever we want with him.” He was released the next day, unharmed. [CPJ]The bad cops have completed their part. Gall got off relatively lightly, quite likely because she worked for NYT. The routine now calls for the good’ cop to swing into action. That the Taliban are holed out (a very unsatisfactory expression) in Quetta under the protection of the Pakistani regime is an open secret. Musharraf just wants to keep it off the (Western) press.



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