As I've written previously, the Pakistani government has been taking some heat. On Wednesday night, the controversy finally came to a full boil, and officials are still scrambling to keep the pot from bubbling over.
The other day, I posted an interview with Gallup's Pakistan chief, Dr. Ijaz Gilani, in which he explained how electoral data belies the conventional wisdom that the present government is on the verge of political collapse. In the second half of our discussion, he applied a similar counterintuitive approach to substantive policy problems, namely the economy, counterterrorism, and civil war.
Where the first half of our chat focused on inside baseball, this one is pretty self-explanatory. But still, two significant implications:
When I started on this trip, I planned to post 1-2 videos a week. For the first month, that's not been possible, because Islamabad has pretty much outlawed videotaping anywhere in the city. I've been stopped and ID'ed and questioned several times while trying to snap still images, and even inside buildings, officials are unwilling to go on camera. Since Tuesday, however, I've been in Karachi, where the rules are a little more lenient. Hopefully more visual aids will follow.
Political reformers in Pakistan have long argued that economic growth would bring about a decline in the militancy that today threatens to tear the country apart. While economic deprivation is undoubtedly a cause of political instability, recent history suggests that growth alone is not a solution.
It's been a big week here in Islamabad. First off, there have two more bomb attacks, one at the naval compound down the street from where I am staying and one out in Pindi, the next town over. Secondly, Barack Obama finally announced his plans for the war in Afghanistan: 30,000 more troops now; phased withdrawal started in 18 months. Thirdly, Prime Minister Yousuf Reza Gilani completed a tour of Germany and Britain.
The climate story of South Asia begins in the Himalayas, home to thousands of rain-fed glaciers that make up the largest body of ice outside the poles. In the winter, these glaciers capture the precipitation that makes it over the mountains. In the warmer months, they melt away water that feeds major rivers like the Ganga, the Indus, and the Brahmaputra. The system is a 'natural water tanker' for the 1.5 billion people living in the river basins below.The second important feature of the story is its extreme monsoon, in which half the rain for the season falls in only 15 days.
When Americans hear about violence in Pakistan, they think mostly of the Taliban or of jihadis on the Kashmir border. But the single greatest threat to Pakistan right now is a third insurgency: of ethnic separatists in the Baloch province, who have been pushing for secession for years.
This story also aired on KUOW on Oct. 26.
Like India, Pakistan has its share of call centers, offering everything from customer service and tech support to health insurance and home security systems. Jessica Partnow takes us through a night in the life of Ali Jaffri, a professional telemarketer in Lahore.
Filmmaker Alex Stonehill explores the complex intersection of faith, poverty and education in Pakistan today.
Zeeshan Khan, a 17-year-old engineering student, says he knows who Pakistanis blame for what has become the largest migration in their country's history. "These people are coming due to the bombing," he said, gesturing to the thousands of refugees milling around the Mardan refugee camp. "Due to the jet artillery, the F-16s, the heavy weapons. All our houses are destroyed."
Primary education is compulsory in Pakistan, and the country has a large public school system. But many of these schools are just marginally functional. Corruption is rampant, teachers play hooky, and some schools exist only on paper. The problems are so widespread that the term "ghost school" has become a household phrase.
Jessica Partnow reports from Karachi.
Pakistani singer Shehzad Roy spent much of his childhood in the U.S., and was troubled by the poor quality of public education he saw when he got back to Pakistan. So he founded an advocacy group called the Zindagi Trust, designed to reform failing public schools.
This program re-aired on World Vision on Oct 2, 2010.