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Week of September 10, 2002

Program 0237


This text has been professionally transcribed. However, for timely distribution, it has not been edited or proofread against the tape.

Chinatown | Transcript | MP3

Europe-US Relations | Transcript | MP3

Robert Fisk Remembers | Transcript | MP3

Afghan Musicians | Transcript | MP3

Pakistan’s New Role | Transcript | MP3

Tracking Terrorism | Transcript | MP3

Russia’s War on Terror | Transcript | MP3

This text has been professionally transcribed. However, for timely distribution, it has not been edited or proofread against the tape.

PAUL LEE: I’ve often wondered what this store has seen over 111 years. The Depression in 1929, World War I, World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War. If it’s not the worst this has got to be really, really bad.

KRISTIN MCHUGH: This week on Common Ground, Chinatown, one year later.

KEITH PORTER: And the post-9/11 international landscape.

RUSSIAN PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN: [via a translator] We have come a long way though from confrontation to dialogue and from confrontation to cooperation. And we must understand this Rome declaration is building fundamentally new relationships: Russia’s President Putin may have summed up the mood among European leaders when he made it clear they must listen to the views of their own people before listening to the US.

PORTER: Plus, one man’s conversations with Osama bin Laden.

ROBERT FISK: I thought his security when I met him was extremely good—very professional. I thought the people around him were ready to give their lives for him. They hung on his every word as if he was a messiah.

MCHUGH: These stories, coming up next.

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PORTER: Common Ground is radio’s weekly program on world affairs. I’m Keith Porter.

MCHUGH: And I’m Kristin McHugh. The events of September 11, 2001, changed the landscape of America. They also changed the rest of the world. Much has happened in the year since; political alliances unimaginable just a few years ago formed and new threats and enemies emerged. Today, Common Ground examines the global 9/11 fallout—from the streets of America to the battlefields of Central Asia. We begin our special report in New York.

[The sound of a busy street in New York City’s Chinatown.]

PORTER: A year after the devastating attacks on the World Trade Center, the US economy is slowly on the rebound. But for one community, just blocks from ground zero, the effects of the tragedy are still being felt. The economy of New York’s Chinatown depended heavily on the workers of the World Trade Center and the tourists drawn by the sheer magnificence of the Twin Towers. And now Manhattan’s highest concentration of East Asians is struggling to make ends meet.

[The sound of people speaking Chinese at a busy shop.]

PORTER: Just after the attacks on the World Trade Center, the Asian community in Chinatown was raising money for the victims and their families. Now, the focus is on rebuilding their neighborhood’s faltering economy. Chinatown has been one of the biggest gateways for East Asian immigration into the US for over a hundred years.

[The sound of Chinese music being played over the sound of a busy Chinatown street.]

PORTER: It’s a culturally vibrant neighborhood and a tight knit community that seems on the surface to be self contained.

[The sound of a store owner talking to a customer in Chinese.]

PORTER: Paul Lee is the manager of the Mott Street General Store, which has operated in Chinatown for over a century and was, until last year, doing a thriving business.

PAUL LEE: I’ve often wondered what this store has seen over 111 years. The Depression in 1929, World War I, World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War. If it’s not the worst this has got to be really, really bad.

[The sound of vehicles and street traffic.]

PORTER: On the streets of Chinatown it’s easy to see the effects of 9/11. Many of the restaurants remain half empty, over 40 garment factories have closed, and because of the added security measures much of the area remains inaccessible. That’s a big problem for a community that boasts over 250 restaurants, all dependent on outside customers. And restaurant trade is down as much as 70%.

Nearly a quarter of Chinatown’s workers were laid off in the three months after the attacks, many are still working reduced hours or taking home less money. Shao Chee Sim from New York’s Asian American Federation says Chinatown residents are having difficulties adapting to the new reality.

DR. SHAO CHEE SIM: We all know very well that a typical Chinatown worker is usually in their mid 40’s and 50’s—female garment workers with very little English language skills and job skills. So in a way they are kind of stuck right now.

PORTER: For that reason, Chinatown’s residents have a vital interest in what will eventually replace the World Trade complex. Again, Paul Lee of the Mott Street General Store:

PAUL LEE: We do respect the victims and their families, okay? And we want a memorial for them, no question. At the same time we need it to be the economic engine that it was. The details to me personally are not important.

PORTER: Even though the largest terrorist attack in history took place in their backyard, this community still has hope for the future. Dr. Shao Chee Sim says the attacks have forced the rest of the city to pay attention to Chinatown’s needs.

DR. SHAO CHEE SIM: Chinatown community there, has always been located in the background of City Hall and the major financial institutions in lower Manhattan—a community that has long been ignored by policy makers as well as the mainstream media. With the tragedy of 9/11 a lot of attention has been paid to Chinatown.

[The sound of Chinese music being played over the sound of a busy Chinatown street.]

PORTER: Chinatown is now set to become a special economic zone, and with that will come tax breaks and investment incentives. But the new designation comes a full year after the attacks, and this community hopes the help won’t turn out to be too little too late.

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Europe-US Relations

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MCHUGH: In the days following September 11th, British Prime Minister Tony Blair pledged his nation would stand “shoulder-to-shoulder” with the United States in the fight against global terrorism. For the first time in the history of the organization, NATO invoked Article Five, declaring the terror attacks on the US to be an attack on all of it’s members and pledging support. Across Europe, countries followed suit, pledging troops to the conflict in Afghanistan and intelligence support for the battle. But one year later, is Europe still ready and willing to let the Bush administration take the lead? Suzanne Chislett reports from London.

SUZANNE CHISLETT: British Prime Minister Tony Blair was among the first international leaders to travel to Washington in the days following September 11th. He promised complete support for the United States in the search for Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda. The special relationship between the two countries was as close as it has ever been, as President Bush highlighted during a gathering of America’s leaders.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: America has no truer friend than Great Britain. [applause] Once again we are joined together in a great cause. I am so honored the British Prime Minister has crossed an ocean to show his unity with America. Thank you for coming, friend. [applause]

CHISLETT: British forces joined the hunt for the terrorists responsible for the attacks, fought alongside their US counterparts in the battle against Afghanistan’s Taliban regime, which had harbored bin Laden, and the people of Britain did whatever they could to help those suffering in New York, Washington, DC, and Pennsylvania. Prime Minister Blair toured Europe for talks with key leaders, many of whom then sent their armed forces to join the fight. He made it clear he would be standing with George Bush.

PRIME MINISTER TONY BLAIR: I think it’s right for Britain to be a close ally of America and I think it’s right for us as a country to say to our European partners, “We are a changed government in respect to Europe. We are pro-Europe. We are in favor of Europe.” But it should never be at the expense of our relationship with the United States. Not the British relationship, not the European relationship.

CHISLETT: European and American solidarity was on further display in May at the signing of the NATO-Russia Council declaration—a landmark event, bringing the Cold War to a formal close. The treaty gives Russia a say in the decision making process of the North Atlantic alliance, particularly in defense issues. Speaking at the signing President Vladimir Putin welcomed the new global balance.

RUSSIAN PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN: [via a translator] We have come a long way though from confrontation to dialogue and from confrontation to cooperation. And we must understand this Rome declaration is building fundamentally new relationships—although this is only the beginning.

CHISLETT: But the close cooperation between the United States and Europe was already showing signs of strain. President Bush’s actions to improve the American economy in the wake of September 11th caused problems. The European Commission was asked to investigate steel tariffs imposed by the US on all imports—and as hundreds of jobs were lost at the main European steel companies, many nations called for penalties to be imposed. European Union trade official Pascal Lamy traveled to Washington to try to defuse the tensions and prevent an all out trade war.

PASCAL LAMY: Of course we have sanctions available but we will only use them in so far as we need them to enforce compliance which would not be there otherwise.

CHISLETT: American policies towards the global environment also came under fire across Europe. President Bush’s decision to withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol on climate change left a bad taste in many mouths and some nations have openly questioned the US administration’s “America First” policy. Even Tony Blair struggled to explain the President’s decision.

PRIME MINISTER BLAIR: There is always going to be differences between us and Kyoto is a difference. I mean, maybe President Bush would say “Why doesn’t Tony Blair agree with me on Kyoto?” You know, we disagree. There’s a different perspective taken in the US on that.

CHISLETT: Appalled at what it saw as America’s uneven handling of the Middle East crisis, the European Union made its own efforts to resolve the situation. And even at the United Nations, there was much objection voiced when the United States announced it would refuse to sign up to the International Criminal Court, which was designed to try soldiers allegedly responsible for war crimes. But perhaps the issue likely to drive the biggest post 9/11 wedge between Europe and the US is George Bush’s plan to remove the Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

In Germany, where general elections take place this month, doubts about the wisdom of attacking Iraq have been a linchpin of Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder’s campaign for reelection. France has a similar stance. French President Jacques Chirac says there should be United Nations approval of any military action against Iraq. Russia’s President Putin may have summed up the mood among European leaders when he made it clear they must listen to the views of their own people before listening to the US.

PRESIDENT PUTIN: [via a translator] Of course serious people work in the capital cities and much depends on them.

CHISLETT: Far from being praised for his stance alongside the United States, British Prime Minister Tony Blair is now not only having to justify his actions to his European colleagues, members of the British Parliament are demanding they have a say in any possible attack against Iraq and more than 250 of Britain’s religious leaders signed a petition urging restraint. But Prime Minister Blair insists far from following Bush’s lead, he is playing an active role in the decision making process.

PRIME MINISTER BLAIR: I don’t think it would be very sensible for me to start listing the areas where I think he’s changed his mind. But if you want to know the areas that we have worked very closely on I think you can see that very clearly, post September the 11th. In particular, in relation to Afghanistan. Recently we’ve worked very closely together in India and Kashmir. I read the criticism sometimes about George Bush and unilateralism. All I can say is that I have found him extremely open and easy to deal with throughout the time I’ve been Prime Minister.

CHISLETT: Across Europe the events of September 11th will always be remembered; but the global unity which followed appears to be slowly fading. For Common Ground, I’m Suzanne Chislett in London.

[Musical interlude]

PORTER: Robert Fisk reflects on his interviews with Osama bin Laden, next on Common Ground.

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Robert Fisk Remembers

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MCHUGH: Finding Osama bin Laden—dead or alive—was the top priority at the start of the US-led war on terrorism. But thousands of bombing raids and special operations later, Washington remains fiercely divided over bin Laden’s fate.

PORTER: Officially, the Defense Department says it simply doesn’t know where he might be hiding, but others in Washington believe there are increasing signs that bin Laden is dead. As the controversy continues, journalist Robert Fisk believes one thing is for certain—the world’s most wanted man survived the early months of the war. Fisk, who says he’s interviewed bin Laden on three separate occasions, recently spoke with our Cliff Brockman.

ROBERT FISK: Well, the first time was in Sudan. And a Saudi friend of mine was attending a conference which I was covering. And he said to me, “I am going to meet Osama bin Laden tomorrow in the desert. Would you like to come along? To which I said, “Yes, yes, yes.” No foreign correspondent had met him before. He didn’t know I was coming. I did ask him about the State Department’s claims. You remember, this is, we’re talking ’93, ’94—a long time ago. But what I really wanted to know about was how his mind worked. So I asked him about his time in Afghanistan, when he and his fellow Arab fighters fought the Soviet army. For us, of course, they were our heroes at the time.

And he gave me a lot of information. He told me one particular story that he felt had changed his life. And that’s where he was attacking a Soviet mortar position in Nangahar province in Afghanistan. And a Russian mortar fell right at his feet. And in the millisecond before it exploded and killed him he said he felt great calmness. And he attributed this to being a religious experience. Now, fortunately for him, and perhaps unfortunately for people of the United States, the mortar did not explode. But it’s clear that that marked him—or marked his mind and the way he thought.

Another very important issue for him was the fact that when he returned from Afghanistan, having after all, played a leading role in driving the second most powerful army in the world, the Russian army, out of that country—just after that, in 1990, Saddam Hussein and Iraq invaded Kuwait. And he went immediately to the Saudi royal family and said, “Look, don’t bring in the Americans. I and my fighters from Afghanistan will drive the Iraqis out. We’ll make their life hell. We’ll get the Iraqis out. Let the Arabs deal with the Arabs.” And to his immense fury—and I’m sure his wounded pride—the Saudi royal family decided that they preferred the Americans to do the job. That I think was a very important moment in Osama bin Laden’s life.

The next time I met him I received a call from Europe asking me to go to see, I think the quote was “the man you saw in Sudan.” So I waited a couple of weeks and I went to Jalalabad, which is a town in southwest Afghanistan. And I must have waited for another two weeks before one day there was a—I heard car keys [Mr. Fisk makes a tapping sound] on my bedroom window, which was on the first floor. And a man said, “Mr. Robert, we’ve come to take you to Sheik Osama.” And we set off for hours and hours over the countryside. Through minefields, past mud villages that had been destroyed by Russian bombs, filled with naked babies climbing over the rubble—extraordinary scenes out of an apocalyptic movie.

Eventually at dusk—I think it was the following day—we arrived at a river, which was very shallow. And we had to walk across it, through the water. On the other side was an orchard, with some camp, military camp beds. There were a lot of armed men—lying, sleeping, sitting, reading, on them. These of course were bin Laden’s fighters. These were Al Qaeda. Or they were people who would become members of Al Qaeda when he formed the group. And beyond was a sort of mud hut and inside there was a light flickering. And coming out with someone holding a paraffin lamp beside him was bin Laden. I recognized him at once, of course. And we sat there by this paraffin lamp. I took pictures of him and of his two sons, his two teenage sons. And those pictures went around the globe afterwards, of course. And he, he talked for two hours about the evils and wickedness of the Saudi regime. There’s no doubt—I mean, put America to one side, put Iraqi sanctions, Israeli occupation of Palestinian land—it is Arabia he concentrates on. He wants the overthrow of that royal family, which he regarded as corrupt.

The next time I met him was the following year, in 1997, when I got another call from a different part of Europe. And I managed to get back to another town in Afghanistan. This time, same thing—[tapping sound]—car keys on the bedroom window. I deliberately chose a bedroom on the ground floor. And this time I was taken for hours and hours of journey, high into the mountains. So high there were clouds below me and the waterfalls were hanging in ice above me. We went high up into one of his camps. And I sat in a tent next to a huge air raid shelter, cut into the living rock, 25 feet by 25 feet, and eventually bin Laden arrived.

For some time all he wanted to do was read the Arabic language newspapers that he caught sight of in my bag. Not the kind of guy you thought who was in constant satellite touch with the rest of the world. But I do remember the last thing he said to me that night in the tent, with this sort of sputtering paraffin lamp. And that was, he said, “Mr. Robert from the mountain upon which you are sitting now, we destroyed the Russian army and helped get rid of the Soviet Union.” Which I must say I thought was pretty accurate. He probably played a pretty leading role in getting—he was wounded six times fighting the Russians. But then he said, “And Mr. Robert, I pray to God that he allows us to turn America into a shadow of itself.” I wrote it down. I’ve been back to my notes. That’s exactly what he said—word perfect. In fact, we were so keen, I was so keen to get it right, that one of his fighters, one of the Al Qaeda people, wrote it out in Arabic. And I have the Arabic text in that man’s handwriting as well.

CLIFF BROCKMAN: Have you had any contact with him since September 11?

FISK: None. I do know that during the American bombardment he met a man whom I later met who said he asked after me. He asked where I was. I wasn’t in Afghanistan. I gather he, he wanted to speak to me. But I wasn’t there. So I don’t know any more. And since the, since sort of that, that date, which was some time—it may have been November, actually—but since then I’ve had no message and I’ve not attempted to make any contact. And I have no evidence whether he’s dead or alive. Don’t know at all. I suspect he is. Because I thought his security when I met him was extremely good—very professional. I thought the people around him were ready to give their lives for him. They hung on his every word as if he was a messiah. Well, he’s not a messiah, but I mean, that’s what they were like.

BROCKMAN: You were almost killed last fall.

FISK: Umm. It was December 8th. I was trying to get to Kandahar, in Afghanistan. I was approaching the Afghan border. And by great misfortune my car broke down. It overheated. In a village in which there were a large number of Afghan refugees whose relatives had just been killed under a hail of bombs from B-52s; American bombs had killed their families. I was a Westerner. They thought I was an American. I was attacked by about 10 or 12 men who started with stones, banging the stones into my face. They weren’t throwing them, they were banging them, while other people were bouncing stones off my head. And an ever increasing crowd. I guess it was 50 by the end. I was covered in blood from head to toe. My glasses were smashed, my face was bleeding, my skull was cut open.

And I remember it going through my mind, “How long does it last?” Obviously I was anticipating that it was going to be the end of me. And I also then remembered that during the Lebanon war, the Lebanese had always said to me, “Whatever you do, don’t do nothing.” So I turned around and though I couldn’t see very well—I had so much blood in my eyes—I started bashing. And just for a moment the crowd withdrew from me. And in that moment I walked out and ran out. And then I couldn’t see clearly because of the blood in my eyes, but a religious man—I mean a Muslim—in a long robe and a turban, took me by the right arm and led me down the road away from this huge crowd of people. Ever growing greater, of course.

BROCKMAN: You said later that if you had been in their position…

FISK: …I would have done the same thing.

BROCKMAN: Same thing. Why is that?

FISK: Yeah, I wrote my story. Well, I mean, these were truly, you know, their crime was to be a victim of the world. They, their families had been destroyed, their homes had been destroyed—by us—in our favorite war on terror. It was they who had become the victims of our war on terror. I began and ended my story saying if I was them I would have done the same to Robert Fisk. I said it for two reasons. Firstly, because it was true. And secondly, I get very sick of reporting which always refers to Westerners being killed by Afghan or Muslim mobs as if Muslims are somehow generically violent. These people had a reason for being angry. And I didn’t intend that reporting of it should delete the reasons, the why question. Just as we shouldn’t, we shouldn’t allow people to stop us asking “why” about September 11th. We have to ask why about every incident of violence. The motive is important.

BROCKMAN: Author and journalist Robert Fisk has covered foreign affairs 25 years. He currently writes for The Independent of London. For Common Ground, I’m Cliff Brockman.

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Afghan Musicians

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PORTER: Afghanistan has a long history of classical, folkloric, and western music. And it was one of life’s simple pleasures banned during Taliban rule. But as Reese Erlich reports from a liberated Kabul, music is back in swing.

ERLICH: It’s only 1 o’clock in the afternoon, but most musicians here at Afghan Radio & TV have packed up their instruments and are heading out the gate. The country’s one TV and radio station only broadcasts a few hours each day, and it’s quitting time. But I convince a musician to reach into his burlap bag, pull out a harmonium, and hit a few bars.

[Musicians in front of Afghan Radio & TV, playing and laughing.]

[The sound of Mr. Erlich walking on stairs inside building.]

ERLICH: The cavernous building is almost empty—not only of people, but of microphones, speakers, mixing boards—even desks and chairs. Like everything else in Afghanistan these days, the new state broadcasting network is almost starting from scratch. But not quite.

[The sound of the Afghan song, My Beloved Afghanistan.]

ERLICH: The broadcasting network is able to draw from a rich pool of talented musicians, all of whom are anxious to work. In a practice studio, I meet Aziz Ghaznawi, one of the country’s most famous singers. He’s also music director of the station. He puts on an extemporaneous concert on our behalf.

[The sound of the Afghan song, My Beloved Afghanistan.]

ERLICH: He’s singing My Beloved Afghanistan, the country’s unofficial national anthem. The lyrics include: “Afghanistan is my love, Afghanistan is my body, Afghanistan is my soul.”

[The sound of the Afghan song, My Beloved Afghanistan, followed by applause.]

ERLICH: Ghaznawi’s voice has lost none of its power and appeal, despite the fact that he and other musicians couldn’t perform publicly ever since the Taliban took power in 1996. The Taliban leaders considered all music to be decadent and un-Islamic.

AZIZ GHAZNAWI: [via a translator] During the time of the Taliban regime, all music was banned. All music—folk, classical, or whatever kind was banned. Instruments were burned and destroyed. The Taliban saw music as a great sin. It was forbidden. They allowed the chanting of poems without music. But that didn’t interest us. Without melody, you don’t have music.

ERLICH: These days, however, Afghans are listening to music wherever they can. Music CD stores dot Kabul’s busy streets. Taxi drivers blare music from radios and cassette players. Afghan Radio & TV features live music for several hours every day. I asked Ghaznawi if the musicians—who hadn’t touched their instruments in five years—had lost their skills.

GHAZNAWI: [via a translator] Although during the Taliban years we could not practice, we did not forget how to play. God gave us a talent. We are professional musicians, and we have not forgotten our skills of playing. And now with the new government we are allowed to perform on the radio and at private parties.

ERLICH: [interviewing Mr. Ghaznawi] So they always played the music in their head even if they couldn’t play with their hands?

GHAZNAWI: [via a translator] Yes.

ERLICH: Ah, wonderful.

[The sound of Afghan music.]

ERLICH: Several studio musicians strike up an improvised tune on tabla drums and a long necked, stringed instrument that, for all the world, looks like an Indian sitar. That’s because it is a sitar. Singer Fazal Rahman Nayriz argues that the Afghans practically invented the sitar—or at least its precursor instrument.

FAZAL RAHMAN NAYRIZ: [via a translator, being summarized by Erlich] He says, when the famed Afghan musician Amir Khesrawi Balkhi went to India, he introduced the tambour—a string instrument. The sitar comes from the Afghan tambour.

[The sound of Afghan music.]

ERLICH: [speaking to Nayriz] When I heard them playing—I’m not an educated man about this music—it sounded to me like music from India.

NAYRIZ: [via a translator, being summarized by Erlich] He says, classic music does not have a certain place or origin, whether it’s from India or Afghanistan. Classical music is classical music. The language of music is universal.

[The sound of Afghan music.]

ERLICH: [speaking to Nayriz] Can we induce them to extemporize? To sing? Is that possible?

[The musicians speak among themselves.]

ERLICH: Fantastic.

[The musicians speak among themselves and begin to tune their instruments.]

ERLICH: Ghaznawi and Naireez consult among themselves. After a few brief moments, they decide to improvise a song on the spot. Neither had thought of the melody or lyrics in advance. Yet they manage to come up with rhyming couplets.

[The musicians sing an Afghan song, entitled California.]

ERLICH: The song is beautiful, perfectly executed among the three singers and two instrumentalists. I ask Ghaznawi to explain the lyrics. It’s a song in honor of my visit. The song asks if I could arrange a concert tour for them in California.

[The song California continues.]

ERLICH: For Common Ground, I’m Reese Erlich in Kabul.

[Musical interlude]

PORTER: This is Common Ground, radio’s weekly program on world affairs.

MCHUGH: I’m Kristin McHugh.

PORTER: And I’m Keith Porter. Coming up this half hour on Common Ground, how 9/11 still divides Pakistan.

PAKISTANI PRESIDENT PERVEZ MUSHARRAF: We reject terrorism in all its forms and manifestations anywhere in the world. We will continue to fulfill our responsibilities flowing from our commitment.

PORTER: Plus, tracking terrorism and Russia’s controversial war on terror in Chechnya.

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Pakistan’s New Role

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MCHUGH: This past year has seen the United States recalibrate its relationships with a number of international partners as a result of the attacks on September 11th. But the leaders of many of America’s allies in the Bush administration’s war on terror are paying a price at home for their support of the US.

PORTER: Common Ground‘s Simon Marks recently traveled to Pakistan, where President Pervez Musharraf has emerged as a pivotal US supporter, but where other political figures now criticize him for forging a pragmatic alliance with the United States.

[The sound of a political protest rally.]

SIMON MARKS: In the Pakistani capital Islamabad, the voices of political protest are increasingly being heard. Just one year after the events of September the 11th thrust the Pakistani President, Pervez Musharraf, to the center of the world stage, he’s facing increasing opposition at home from a broad array of political opponents. Democracy activists, like those at this rally in Rawlpindi, just outside Islamabad, criticize the President for seizing power in a bloodless military coup three years ago, and overthrowing a democratically-elected government that he maintains was corrupt. But many other political forces in Pakistan find fault with President Musharraf for another reason: for his decision to back President Bush and the US war on terror.

PAKISTANI PRESIDENT PERVEZ MUSHARRAF: Pakistan has a firm position of principle in the international battle against terrorism.

MARKS: During a visit to the White House this past February, President Musharraf offered President Bush unequivocal support.

PRESIDENT MUSHARRAF: We reject terrorism in all its forms and manifestations anywhere in the world. We will continue to fulfill our responsibilities flowing from our commitment.

MARKS: That declaration represented a dramatic about-face for the government of mostly Muslim Pakistan. Islamabad was one of the few countries to retain diplomatic relations with the Taliban in Afghanistan even after the attacks of September the 11th. And the pragmatic decision by President Musharraf to support the US war against Al Qaeda and their Afghan allies was recognized by President Bush as a brave move.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: President Musharraf is a leader with great courage and vision. And his nation is a key partner in the global coalition against terror. Pakistan’s continuing support of Operation Enduring Freedom has been critical to our success so far in toppling the Taliban, and routing out the Al Qaeda network.

[The sound of Muslim school for young men, a madrasa.]

MARKS: Today, President Musharraf is paying the price for that decision, at places like the Jamiya Faridia madrasa in downtown Islamabad. The madrasas are privately-run religious schools—there are ten thousand of them all over Pakistan. And at the Jamia Faridia school, students spend most of their day crouched over a copy of the Koran that they are required to learn by rote. Visitors are welcomed by the site of a roomful of 8 year-olds swaying from side-to-side as their fingertips follow line after line of Arabic script in front of them.

[The sound of Muslim school for young men, a madrasa.]

MARKS: The US is concerned that these schools, with their intense, sometimes exclusive focus on the study of the Koran, are producing a generation of Pakistanis ill-equipped to deal with the modern secular world. And so when the United States called on President Musharraf to take action, he did—ordering the voluntary registration and regulation of the madrasas in a bid to control their activities. The clerics who run the schools were outraged by the President’s demands, and today the madrasas are a haven of anti-Musharraf criticism. Cleric Rashid Khazi runs Jamia Faridia Madrasa.

RASHID KHAZI: It is just there because of the American pressure. America, is in fact, pressuring the government of Pakistan unnecessarily. And the government of Pakistan, you know that, they have bowed and they have surrendered before the American pressure.

MARKS: And he argues that President Musharraf is storing up enormous political trouble for himself.

KHAZI: In my opinion, it’s unwise of him, that he has opened many fronts at the same time. Maybe he has some pressures, or whatever, he might have his own logic behind that, but it’s true. He is facing a lot of trouble.

MARKS: Trouble too, from other elements here that find Pakistan’s new relationship with the United States simply intolerable. Hamid Gul is a former head of Pakistan’s all-powerful ISI—the Inter Services Intelligence Agency. He’s credited with training the anti-Soviet mujahadeen forces in Afghanistan that went on to become the Taliban. So, not surprisingly, he’s critical of Pakistan’s decision to back the US war against his former protégés, and the ongoing US military presence in Pakistan aimed at hunting down surviving members of Al Qaeda.

HAMID GUL: Ninety five per cent of people of Pakistan according to a CNN survey hate America now because of what America has done and what America is doing. FBI is milling around; midnight knocks at various doors; and under the pretext of hunting for Al Qaeda they are doing all sorts of excesses. They are hurting Pakistan’s national pride, our sovereignty, our dignity—whatever we have.

MARKS: And General Gul argues that Pervez Musharraf will forever be branded in the minds of the public as America’s man in Pakistan.

GUL: It suits Americans today to have a person that enjoys all the authority. He has control over the army, he has control over the Parliament, and he sits on top of the National Security Council. They deal with one man. So concentration of power in one hand, it is not Pakistani nation’s desire. It is not their need. It is the need of somebody else. That is precisely America.

[The sound of a busy street market in Rawlpindi.]

MARKS: On the streets of Pakistan it is rare to encounter publicly-voiced hostility towards the United States. But it is common to find people who think that America should be doing more to alleviate poverty in Pakistan in exchange for the support Islamabad has offered Washington. Tariq Daad owns the local sewing machine shop in Rawlpindi, where Singers from the 1950s are reconditioned and sold. He says he’s glad Pakistan is working with the United States, but he wants to see his country benefit more.

TARIQ DAAD: [via a translator] The US is a developed country. I think they should step forward and help out in our agricultural sector and in other fields too. They should help us develop our schools, and they should transfer their technologies to this country. They should come forward in each and every field.

MARKS: And that view is helping to fuel the notion, even among President Musharraf’s supporters, that Pakistan’s leader didn’t strike a good deal with the Bush administration in the aftermath of last September the 11th. Veteran politicians here say that at the end of the day, both countries will be the losers—Pakistan, because its leader gives the impression of being dominated by the United States—and the US because it’s backing a man many here consider a military dictator. Gohar Ayoub Khan is a former foreign minister of Pakistan. He’d like to run in the country’s Parliamentary elections, slated to take place next month. But like many opponents of President Musharraf, he finds himself banned from participating in the political process.

GOHAR AYOUB KHAN: It’s a large country with 140 million people. We can’t peg our stakes and destiny to one man. There are thousands and thousands better than maybe General Musharraf to take the mantle, etcetera. It’s just that the West is now dealing with him. There may be dozens and dozens more maybe better.

[The sound of Moslem call to prayers.]

MARKS: Whether that’s the case or not, the world may never know, because earlier this year President Musharraf secured another five years in office after a referendum in which he claims he won 97 percent of the vote. His opponents insist the poll was rigged. But he is set to remain in office for quite a while. And despite the Bush administration’s professed desire for Pakistan to return to democratic rule as soon as possible, his continued presence in office seems guaranteed to keep Pakistan on America’s side, despite the difficulties that creates at home for its leader. For Common Ground, I’m Simon Marks in Islamabad.

MCHUGH: Coming up next on Common Ground, the difficulties of tracking terrorism. And later, fading support for Russia’s war in Chechnya.

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Tracking Terrorism

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PORTER: The events of a year ago took nearly everyone by surprise. And it left many in the US intelligence community wondering what went wrong.

MCHUGH: The answer, according to Robert Orr, is complicated. Robert Orr served as the Director of the Office of Global and Multilateral Affairs for the National Security Council during the Clinton Administration.

MCHUGH: How severe was the terrorism threat in the ’90s?

ROBERT ORR: It was increasing throughout the ’90s. I think both activity levels and sophistication of the networks involved. Al Qaeda was tracked throughout most of the ’90s. Watched with great concern and certainly after the embassy bombings that the level of official attention escalated quite dramatically.

MCHUGH: Did you ever imagine that something like 9/11 would ever happen?

ORR: I think those of us who dealt with anything related to terrorism were all very aware that something like 9/11 was possible. I don’t think anyone really anticipated 9/11 in the form it came. But throughout the late ’90s we increased funding dramatically for counterterrorism, in part because of the threat of Al Qaeda. That was driving the train, I think, in terms of official responses. So yes, we were very aware of major threats. We were trying to organize for them. There were some direct interventions taken to put pressure on Al Qaeda and try to dismantle pieces of it, but obviously no one directly anticipated something like 9/11.

MCHUGH: Was there anything that we could have done to prevent 9/11?

ORR: I think certainly the US government response could have been more dramatic in terms of escalating our—not just our resourcing of counterterrorism, but our high level attention. That this is not a technical exercise. You couldn’t just give more resources to the FBI and the CIA and say, “Go take care of it.” It really does require and did require higher level political attention to look at all the issues that now we are, post-9/11, we are looking at. Things like our borders, our visa policy. All the homeland security package was just, it was not possible to address those before 9/11.

MCHUGH: And that’s just lack of security, lack of funding, lack of organization?

ORR: Lack of political will. The American people I think are very jealous of their liberties and would like their government to, in many cases, be as minimal as possible. And I think while there were some articles and stories about terrorists out there it was always considered a problem that was “out there.” And it wasn’t until it was brought to our soil that the American people began to engage in a daily debate over it. And I think that’s what’s fundamentally changed. And I think will help create a better environment to answer the broad threats that terrorism poses to this nation.

MCHUGH: One of the issues that’s often talked about now is trying to coordinate amongst all the agencies. How do you go about doing that?

ORR: I think this is a bigger issue than just coordinating. It’s restructuring. We were not well structured to fight terrorism. The FBI was put together in an era and shaped in an era that it was looking at a very different set of threats. The mentality within that organization was created in, in a very different era. So we really are looking at restructuring both individual agencies, but now certainly with the debate over a homeland security department, massive architectural reform of the US government. It will require ongoing coordination. That is a major issue. But first you have to get the architecture right.

MCHUGH: Is homeland security part of that architecture, do you think?

ORR: Absolutely. And in fact I think this reorganization effort is long overdue. I think there are many ways it could play out. But the fact is this debate over how to organize ourselves at cross agencies for something as transcendental a threat as terrorism is really years overdue.

MCHUGH: The blame game, of course, is going on in Washington now. We certainly didn’t see it within the first few days or even the first few months after 9/11. But now Republicans blame the Democrats, Democrats blame the Republicans. Is there anyone really to blame?

ORR: I think the blame game is less useful than actually doing an analysis of what went wrong, so that you can fix it. I think we really do need to understand why we were so blind in certain respects about the threats on our soil. Why were we so focused overseas, when in fact we had already had a bombing of the World Trade Center, you know, years ago? It was past time to look at some of these fundamental issues. And when we, when we tried to do some reorganization in the latter part of the Clinton administration, there was great resistance even to creating an office of a coordinator of, for counterterrorism. Something as simple as that was resisted in many quarters.

MCHUGH: Robert Orr served as the Director of the Office of Global and Multilateral Affairs for the National Security Council during the Clinton Administration. He currently works on international security issues at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC.

PORTER: You’re listening to Common Ground, radio’s weekly program on world affairs.

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Russia’s War on Terror

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PORTER: America’s relationship with Russia has taken on new life in the past year since President Vladimir Putin declared his solidarity with the US war on terror. But what about Russia’s own self-declared war on terror in the breakaway province of Chechnya?

MCHUGH: Human rights groups are critical of Russia’s actions there; and many say the West is looking the other way. Anya Ardayeva reports.

[The sound of Vladimir Putin speaking in Russian.]

ANYA ANARDAYEVA: On September 11th of last year, Russian President Vladimir Putin was the first to express his condolences to a shocked American nation, calling terrorism the “plague of the 21st century,” and promising Russia’s support.

RUSSIAN PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN: [via a translator] Russia knows what terrorism is. We understand the feelings of the Americans better than others do. And speaking to the American people on behalf of the Russian nation I want to say: we are with you. We fully support you and we feel your pain.

ANARDAYEVA: A few months later, the US launched its war on terrorism, starting in Afghanistan. But Russia has been fighting what it calls a war on terrorism for years—in Chechnya. The war in Chechnya—the second there in the last decade—is about to enter it’s fourth year. Russian troops returned to the breakaway province after a series of apartment bombings, blamed on Chechen rebels, took the lives of more than 300 people. The nation fully supported the move. Vladimir Putin’s popularity soared, helping him to get elected as the country’s new president in 2000.

[A Russian newscast reporting on the war in Chechnya.]

ANARDAYEVA: Three years later, reports from the front-line in Chechnya still lead the news here. Russia has already lost thousands of its servicemen. Last May, President Putin said the conflict was all but over. But last month, nearly 120 people were killed after a helicopter, believed to be shot down by a rebel missile, crashed in a minefield. It was one of Russia’s largest single day losses in the second war.And that’s affecting the mood of the people here. Recent polls suggest that more than 60% of Russians no longer support the military action in Chechnya. But the Kremlin insists it’s fighting terrorism there. Russian officials say, the province has become a no-man’s land, flooded with armed individuals who have ties to Al Qaeda. But not everyone agrees.

VICTOR KREMENYUK: Of course, it has never been an anti-terrorist campaign, because the pretext to call it anti-terrorist was the explosions of the buildings in Moscow. Three years later, now, there is no hard evidence that it was really carried out by the terrorists.

ARDAYEVA: Victor Kremenuyk of Moscow’s USA and Canada Institute says Russia’s relationship with the United States improved so dramatically that the West is now turning a blind eye on the conflict in the northern Caucasus.

VICTOR KREMENYUK: The West has put itself into a very clumsy position. You know, they consider that criticizing Putin and the Russian government for what they are doing in Chechnya means bad relations with Putin.

ARDAYEVA: And this alarms human rights activists in Moscow. Valentin Gefter, the Director of Moscow’s Human Rights Institute, says international pressure is needed to ensure that the Russian military doesn’t violate the rights of civilians and refugees. And he says that pressure has gone away.

VALENTIN GEFTER: [via a translator] Unfortunately, the number of human rights violations and the size of these violations during the army’s so-called mopping up in the villages among civilians have not changed. There are still the same amount of people who suffer from it.

ARDAYEVA: Gefter adds the discrimination extends far beyond the conflict zone. He says people of Chechen origin living in Moscow are subjected to falsified criminal cases, have difficulties finding jobs, and are often refused foreign passports.

GEFTER: [via a translator] Just recently, we again heard about those Chechens who want to immigrate, having to jump off the trains in Lithuania. Of course, these people could be terrorists. But they could also be common inhabitants of Chechnya who aren’t getting a normal life from Russia.

ARDAYEVA: And what is even more dangerous, Valentin Gefter says, is that the lack of law and order in Chechnya—from both rebel and federal sides—is starting to spread throughout Russia.

GEFTER: [via a translator] This has become some sort of black hole for Russia, which absorbs the worst things in the society and the worst things come out of it. After fighting there, people go back and they bring all this lawlessness to their cities and villages. And this is becoming a norm of life. The first war went on for three years, the second for three years, and this is something that is very difficult to deal with for those in power, for those who have let the demon out.

[The sound of Chechen music.]

ARDAYEVA: This hall in one of Moscow’s museums is unusually empty. It holds an exhibition of photographs depicting the medieval architecture of Chechnya and neighboring Ingushetia. They demonstrate the unique buildings and forts built by 17th century nomads in the mountainous, hard-to-reach areas of the two republics. Architect Valentin Kuznetsov organized the exhibition.

VALENTIN KUZNETSOV: [via a translator] Nobody has seen this area, not even on pictures. I wanted to show it. Caucasus is Russia’s pearl, an absolutely unique place, with a unique nature.

ARDAYEVA: Mr. Kuznetsov says the historic monuments he’s been photographing his entire life are slowly being destroyed.

KUZNETSOV: This war has to end. This was one of the reasons for this exhibition. I wanted to show the people and the military that they will make more money if they bring tourists to Chechnya than if they continue the war. Because the war is mostly about business right now, especially for military.

[The sound of Chechen music.]

ARDAYEVA: Analysts say the conflict will only end if the population starts voicing its opposition to the war. and as the Russian people slowly start to change their opinions about the bloody conflict, that day may not be too far off.

[The sound of Chechen music.]

ARDAYEVA: For Common Ground Radio, I’m Anya Ardayeva, in Moscow.

Our theme music was created by B.J. Leiderman. Common Ground was produced and funded by the Stanley Foundation.

Copyright © Stanley Center for Peace and Security

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