Schmidle Brings Pakistan Story To Brattleboro

04/08/10 7:34AM By Susan Keese
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(Host) Last night at Brooks Memorial Library in Brattleboro more than 100 people shared a close-up look at Taliban Jihadi in Pakistan.

The talk was part of the Vermont Council on the Humanities' "First Wednesday" lectures, held at libraries around the state.

VPR's Susan Keese was there.

(Keese) Freelance journalist Nicholas Schmidle

traveled to Pakistan on a two-year fellowship in 2006, when the rise of the Taliban in that country was the emerging story.

His love of philosophical conversation cemented a rare friendship with Abdul Rashid Ghazi. The Taliban leader of the Red Mosque in Islamabad was later killed in a raid by the Pakistani Army.

The liaison who led Schmidle to Ghazi also worked with Daniel Pearl, the American journalist beheaded by militants.

(Schmidle) "He said ‘Okay, Listen: I'm going to talk to Ghazi and I'm going to ask him if he's willing to meet with you. But if I tell you he's off limits, I don't want to hear that you're going behind my back trying to meet him through other channels. Because that's what I told Daniel Pearl about Sheik Gilani'"

(Keese) Schmidle also visited a Taliban-Al-Qaeda stronghold in the Tribal Territories, and wrote about a new breed of Taliban even more radical than Ghazi and his followers.

(Schmidle) "And I think so long as you continue fighting them, they continue to be made to look like valiant heroes. If you can leave them alone, they will burn themselves out because they are very unpopular. The problem of course is, if they're hosting Al-Qaeda members who are plotting against the United States, then you can't just leave them alone."

(Keese) Schmidle says understanding the differences among Taliban factions should be a key to future U.S. policy.

For VPR News, I'm Susan Keese.

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