tv Book TV After Words CSPAN July 5, 2009 11:00am-12:00pm EDT
it is something that may have been written by a 4445 year-old except you are much more energetic. you tell a story well and clean. but beyond that you seem to have a gift or establishing not sympathy and empathy with some very, very dangerous people. in fact, that kind of people that killed daniel pearl. we will talk about that later but first talk about pakistan itself. so much as if in the headlines and the remarkably timely book, it "to live or to perish forever", what do you think americans don't know about pakistan? >> guest: what americans don't understand is the dynamism. the title itself pulled from a treatise written by a young indian muslim 40 years before the creation of pakistan to
seven "to live or to perish forever". >> guest: the treatise is now or never are we "to live or to perish forever" he proposed it is time for the northwest provinces of the united india to 10 join into a single muslim state along with bangladesh on the eastern wing of india. in the same treatise he proposed these five provinces, up and jab, the northwest frontier province and become pakistan this is the acronym that means the undue land of the pure. so the very basis of this it is to be an ethnic amalgamation to bring together all of the various peoples that were united by one thing that was islam. >> host: the obvious question was that a sufficient basis? because at my own time in
pakistan it is when you cross the river that by six pakistan north and south you truly transition between two civilizations' west to have central asia and the look of the people, the address, even the planned taste of the food but you go east and across and islamabad 46 the food is spicier, the colors are more vivid, richer, it does pakistan were up? >> it does. i am not of the chicken little school that pakistan is always on the verge of collapse. is somehow i think has persevered, negative 1971 civil war but that was geographically untenable to begin with. but pakistan works in so far as it moves ahead. it does not work, it is still grappling with united identity, a single identity
you travel around pakistan and it does defied this civilization but you travel around and you ask pakistani is a various parts of the country how they identify themselves? rarely if ever as pakistani is first. it is either pashtun or pull in jab or tribal identity or muslim sleazy the tears of identity so in that sense the idea of pakistan has never taken root among the civilization or population. >> host: but yet when british india was partitioned in 1947 of course, bangladesh spun off in 71 but india just finished one month of immense elections except for a brief role of emergency rule democracy has never been interrupted or had a military coup. it has worked yet pakistan has had four military
coups, several attempted winds and disrupted elections what is the difference? >> guest: no government has ever felt this term. your right. no government has successfully taken root. the politics of u.s. relations have always been based on personality. if we look at 9/11 the entire farm that our president musharraf so now you see now the country once those institutions to develop preconceived pakistan is the only country in the world where tens of thousands of people come out to protest and demand a rule of law. this is very unique about pakistan compared to any other muslim countries or compared to india. it is hard to say how do differentiate the cultures but there is something very distinct when you cross the border you speak the same language and when my wife and i would travel from the border
from 86 dom deluise saw the fancy ceremony, exactly but you cross the border you're just levying you're not even coming and everybody is stern and gruff and stamping your visa and flipping through it very judiciously and you get to india and everyone is all smiles. how do you explain that geography? just a matter of 10 fee and the temperament of the border guards at 10 vermette? there is something distinctly different about the culture. >> host: later and a shot by to come back to the complexity of islam the first i want to get your book because a part what the readers learned of the reality of everyday life and the complexity behind it, they are great stories.
u.n.'s there with an objective but no ax to grind and the etfs user driven out of pakistan almost literally by the intelligence services in a fit of paranoia toward the end of your proposed day did you manage to go back and get to the second time you had to leave under very real sense of danger with the black forces of pakistan at work for there are great stories but it is your credit that you maintain object to the you cannot be pegging this is a liberal or conservative pocket is just the facts but some of the stories are terrific. blind and that captured me is the way you're able to build personal empathy or relationship with of mullah basically their religious mafia boss of the red mosque to would die by the me. can you tell me about how that
works? >> i promised my parents and my wife ever not get involved in g hottie. this is the pledge. >> host: you immediately did. >> guest: i spent a month and a half and i feel like i am skirting around the issue price need to work my way into this. my impression is if you wanted to understand the hottie you had to be in karachi or the border areas. i did not know there is a moscow across town in islamabad called the red mosque. it is an incredibly dull place there is no nightlife a friend called it ought low self-esteem abad it was run by a charismatic seven brothers and that younger of the two
ran the media operations while the brother ran the religious side i needed introduction to get and and i thought this same individual was a very close friend of osama bin laden. he was a person. >> host: for me to interrupt a close friend of osama bin laden your father is u.s. army report officer and and your brother is fighting in iraq and marine corps uniform. this is some serious risk taking on your part. >> yes. it brought me into a moral impasse more than once like what you say you have to empathize are you never be allowed in. you have to show a sincere interest. they'll understand if it is a feign interest or somebody who is trying to come in and get a quote. i was able to successfully convey was sincerely interested in more about what they were thinking or their movement or their thoughts
were for the pakistani state. this individual was very close to osama a former pilot in the pakistani air force and he was to be the introduction to gazi. i met him for our lunch and he had a checkered past that he was a person that daniel pearl had gone to to be introduced to the head honcho of this jihad a group that daniel pearl was trying to me when he was inducted. he said i have talked to him and he will not be you end of issue. he finds out that daniel pearl he said i will talk to gazi if i tell you he is off limits i do not want to hear you're going behind my back to find another way because i told daniel pearl this and you saw what happened. i thought jack police. this is the attraction. i thought he would be way nastier and scarier but it
turns out gazi looks and behaved in many ways like jerry garcia. beer did, long curls, a thick beard, round spectacles and very jovial and easy to laugh and very open with nothing to happen hide it very open with his relationship with jihadi group sanofi ever do my family background but he opened up to me and that was the basis for it the second half of the book which is my foray into various jihadi camps and different groups all based on this relationship. >> host: there are several sections and the book could you read something about the red mosque hat at something short. >> guest: i met gazi half a dozen times. the early part of 2007 is when gazi had female madrasas
students had taken over a children's library and this is their response to the government is trying of mosques this was the first up of islamabad. a journalist once asked gazi naveed go after the bravos does this signal the taliban he said would rudy guiliani became mayor he went after the brothels to do you recall that said taliban is setian? >> host: these people are not barbarians there are much more media savvy. >> guest: he had a master's from the university of a secular university and in 1997 the same year he visited zero some of them on end and kandahar he was an employee of unicef said he had a foot in both worlds which made him accessible and incredibly dangerous because he knew how to work the media and also knew what sold and it did not. he would talk to me about his
opposition to the government and taliban but never talk to me about his sympathy for the sectarian organization about the red moscow is affiliated with because the new cities killing she is did not play well. so we met in gazi office. cleaning up against his computer desk. that is new. no. i have always had that. what about that? pointing to the short fat cylinder. that? that is a grenade launcher. friend recently gave it to me. he showed me how it worked able to launch grenades over a wall at a fee to 1300 feet a perfect weapon to use against a approaching force inside a mosque. he overhauled the iteration after the female commandos took over the children's library. computers were broad and manned by the date disciples.
the dvd bernard turned out propaganda material to the ied explosions in afghanistan. in response that gazi wanted to take islamabad back to the eighth century he said we do want to go backwards while ago backwards to give up my computer, mobile phone, a walkie-talkie and facts machine? it was not limited to technology. the only thing that did not change was the process chart tacked up by sharon williams. what a weird choice for wall art? if you're a jihadi that depictions of the human form then what better way to spruce up room with color crack security tightened around the moscow as well. getting into c. gazi became arduous. i had to call a least one hour before arriving decade him enough time to notify the vigilantes' doubts that a western journalist is expected.
do not attack him with a rusty shovel 27 think that is the first time c-span ever included a commercial for sharon williams paid two. [laughter] but the book has to re-read it cannot be summarized this so well done and it all brings truth i remember from my own years of roaming the world gazi did not end happily his arsenal was built out confrontation was inevitable can you tell us about the last days? >> guest: on july 3rd 2007 at gazi and his boys kidnapped several chinese masseuse from across islamabad and the chinese got very angry and pushed on musharraf. >> host: they have very long and close relations. >> guest: it was a very bad time for those relations
because there is a highway that the chinese built it is it called a highway that is the tallest ever in the road china had built this to open trade and one week earlier there had been a landslide that had blocked the road on the pakistani side. they could not move the rocks out of the way and the chinese are furious saying we built the road just when there is a landslide at least get the rocks out of the way. there was attention than the masseuse was kidnapped. the army and pakistani rangers and police and military force around the mosque on july 3rd and 410 days there was a standoff you can hear blast across town we would stand upon the roof of my house and watch the fireballs coming up and finally the commandos pushed and they trapped gazi in the basement and there's a shootout and gazi was killed.
as you mentioned earlier there is the awkward moment for me because the government had a paraded his dead bloated body in front of the television and said we got him and my response watching was okay, we got him that if he had been so instrumental in introducing me to another world that my contact was done as well. he was a friend in a weird way. how do feel very guilty grieving for someone that has just led the taliban rebellion? >> host: that the remind anyone who tunes and late we are talking with nicholas schmidle who wrote a timely and well written book his adventures of pakistan and misadventures, it "to live or to perish forever". as a mentioned earlier the remarkable thing is the web of relationships. you were able to build with a
wide range of pakistan eight radicals extremist politicians, average people. there are times the seventh reading the book and i thought i am a former soldier i just would not have gone there. i would have turned back. it is real bravery then i guess you have to be done enough to accomplish. but you also talked about your first meeting with any kind of radical and also called shock and awe that happened in the realization you are in it. can you tell us about that? >> this is the first meeting in which i would meet someone who qualified as the extremist as eight organization in the belong to the most powerful and influential and ratio organization which has very close ties with the taliban which had been banned by the musharraf government for sectarian killings and what not. i was trying to understand at
this time at what sense the sectarian violence in iraq was spilling over and rekindling longstanding sectarian tensions and pakistan. we wanted to meet with the guy to get the idea. and one friend said he could make introduction we got in a friend's car and drove outside of karachi and then restarted, the guy was waiting for us on the side of the road with a motorcycle he gave us a quick and wave and we followed him into this neighborhood that was totally unmarked, all below mud brick houses and rewinding and winding and winding i thought 10 turns ago i lost my way. and i thought your stomach is up here and you were thinking when we get to this point*, what was he not kidnap? is of thought was so present in my mind.
>> host: this is 2006 not long after daniel pearl. >> guest: and the ghost of daniel pearl hovers over karachi and any journalist is reminded by editors or anyone who works or anyone in karachi who is abreast of the fans will say be very careful you know, this has happened once before. i saw a young ambitious western reporter going down this path. he turned out to be a very cordial house. his ideas could not have done more opposite of my own but yet he was open and it turned out of this is the first example and first window of how this would work and these guys wanted to have their voices heard and banned by the government so here was the opportunity to speak to a journalist. >> host: it is well recounted. obviously the bookspan is a good deal of time on your contacts with radicals including the taliban.
i do want to talk about that and your experiences later in the show but also does a very good job for you out how complex islam is and how complex with pakistan it is far from the wahhabi country. could you perhaps tell the audience about is lomb complexity in this secular context? >> guest: the first basic division is between suni and shia it is 80% suni and shia. there are small numbers of hindus, christians, muslim minorities that are sort of not consider or have been branded as non muslims by the government that also fall with some at the matter of his law. so within the dominant majority sunni tradition it
breaks down there is a small section of wahhabi then there is the next which is more or less the taliban. they have most of the madrasas in the country. >> host: as it once was orthodox perform of islam and you describe that very well. >> guest: the other influence is particularly strong and punjab and features in the northwest frontier province but and punjab there's the archipelago of shrines that they will visit and spend hours in the evenings or study poetry, dancing, and it is a very, very unorthodox. as the taliban, what is happening right now that one of the first things the taliban did was take over some of the shrines and say we are
running these and nobody comes in here. is a direct threat because it is a different relationship with god, it is very 191 very intimate relationship that requires a dancing. >> host: it is joyous and the celebration of this form of islam is not looking dazed locking women await a celebration. >> guest: webex 20087 months after being kicked out setback for a celebration for the smithsonsmithson ian it is the annual celebration it is the largest of pakistan around half a million show up it is out of control it is the greatest party can imagine. >> host: when we read this it is like the muslim mardi gras. >> guest: totally. men and women dancing and
right in front of the shrine it is almost a rhythmic dancing like head banging that is very intense and men and women throwing water and people screaming there was a camel that is walked through the middle and they are screaming. it is crazy and you lose yourself. >> host: you did do-it-yourself. >> guest: i did. we were under the tent the drumming was going on and while the aroma of natural smoked objects was everywhere, maybe there was a contact buzz but all of a sudden it is overwhelmingly spiritual the photographer and i had been receiving threatening phone calls and reading about my own kidnapping it was a frightening day planted by the intelligence agencies. buy this point* i wanted to let go.
i lost myself for several minutes be redan sing in the circle and at that point* i understood why half a million people descended every year. >> host: fortunately you did come back to write a terrific book. looking at pakistan there is a sense it is a small place but it is a huge country larger than texas, 1,783,180,000,000 muslims and just before we go one break this is the difference is of flew to stand, punjab, what was your take on the difference is? >> it goes back to the point* made earlier about that culture flew to stand is twice the size of germany and half of the size of pakistan with
5 million people it was described as a survey as being the closest thing to the moon alexander the great almost paris and the water table is 100 feet below the ground. each province has its own set of problems and there was the longstanding ethnic rebellion of those that came from india settled in the city and the carracci and took over the dominance so there have been revolutions of these products have their own descent of ethnic dimensions and the dynamics and northwest frontier province is the most fascinating of all. >> host: a wonderful world of not only the taliban but cultures that still have vestiges of days of alexander the great.
i look forward to talking about that. if you had to summarize pakistan today for the american people just one or two sentences, what would you say to them? >> guest: there is far more at stake and pakistan than any other country in the world because of the liberal tradition a mention that all of these people are in the streets, there is much more to lose. also from a strategic standpoint pakistan is arguably the most dangerous and not even arguably the most important. the second, the dynamism of this country as so often overlooked that is something i hope the book flashes that. >> host: nicholas schmidle author of "to live or to perish forever" probably the best book written by an american in this generation.
>> guest: thank you. >> i am the executive editor of washington days washingtonian magazine from my summer reading i am in the midst of writing my own book about the fbi so a lot of my reading efforts are going into research for that. but in terms of pleasure the books i am looking forward is the biography of lincoln as a writer which came out earlier this year and hw brands a new biography of roosevelt called a traitor to his class which
is a runner-up for the pulitzer. i love reading books about india i have travelled there it is a fascinating country so i have a sea of poppies on my list for the summer and also a huge gramm green van and have been collecting all of his books one of the last ones i have not read is a battlefield on the list for the summer as well as the collective volume of short stories that i picked up in a bookstore of course, that is one of the biggest influences on grand dreams riding high like to read the two a phone together when i can.
>> host: i am the ralph peters. we're having a great time today at least i am talking with nicholas schmidle the author of "to live or to perish forever" a remarkably timely book on his two years in pakistan, a country very much in the headlines that will dominate the headlines for some time to come. one of the many striking things about this series of tales is the time spent with the taliban. i want to make it clear not fighting u.s. troops but with the other side, the enforcer that people bring sure rielle lot to the north west frontier. and perhaps you could start off by telling us how you got there and introduce i think
there's something you could read that would explain how you got into there. >> guest: first retard talking about gazi before the break. after he died he was my introduction to all of the g jihadis. after he died a road apiece that is called farewell my jihadi friend which is a sendoff to this guy who held a complex place in my life even though he had been killed there is the article that i could show to the various jihadis and say i have a role in his life. . .
so i shut up and took a public car into islamabad and and a friend and we were supposed to meet one of these taliban honchos, it was about a 5-mile trip from the center of the city and for a to a spot on the side of the road where we were to meet. we had just been driving a few minutes when my friend's phone rang and someone said, you should be very careful, there is a taliban checkpoint between where you are in between where you're meeting this guy.
so five flatbed trucks blocked the road, as many as 50 men with towels, they look like a running combination of livestock being taken a viking raiders. ever won a budge from his body might have slept his fellow in the back of the head with a rifle barrel. a few dozen native abroad to checkpoint well a line of cars and with an inspection and the vehicle behind as a husband, wife and daughter looked anxious. the teenage girl fogle to fix you're headscarf to meet the expectations. we rolled forward in line and moving and a slow walker space. i and valinda a newspaper to pretend to be reading. one more car in front of us. our driver used for the. they look over our car and waved us through. i discarded the newspaper, in my seat answered at the back
window, like a true lawyer i wanted to keep watching them for hours. to cram the image into my mind forever of the commanding erode and then maybe i could go back later and zoom in for a closer look. at the moment of close contact was to is giving notice to take pictures analysts have long warned of tell urbanization the sweeping northwest pakistan, a looming threats coming a different kind of pakistan. that pakistan was no longer a figment of someone's or imagination, four hours from the capital, five trucks of militants totally unchallenged by the police, paramilitary forces are the army had arrived and were in charge. in. >> host: and, of course, anchoret and thus what were the pakistan army is currently staging a major offensive to try to take a back from the taliban. as you get even deeper in the taliban world that is what which is a kansas a few hours from the capital city of islamabad on the other side. can you tell us a little bit more about for instance there is
a marvelous passage in the book about your summer camp day with the men at any event to see the ministers of local justice. >> guest: wright as a quick interlude their the guy who we were going to me that night was in his fellow who was a local taliban commander but he was not part of a hard core taliban and this -- one of the themes of the book is illustrated the divide between the old generation of taliban and degeneration. so the night that we eventually met up with this guy he had made a call and said we told -- you call ahead and describe our car, given our license plate and they literally as i described carted away and let us through and this was so indicative of the importance of connection and the relationships in pakistan but particularly in the northwest frontier province so we got to this guy's house that night and we broke a crass, it was during ramadan, and after we broke a fast we started talking about life in swaps and what was happening in this guy started
showing me dvd's and videos of and then attacking americans in afghanistan and iraq which again was six hours from the capital, i was in the middle of nowhere and wasn't about to stand up and say my dad and my brother are part of the crusading army you spend your life against baghdad i was had no other choice. so i changed the subject and started talking about a philosophy and at this point that i said you know that osama has written a philosophy book. i said no i did and so he brought me to the next room and showed me this bookshelf full of al qaeda paraphernalia. amongst them was a backpack and he said osama as philosophy book is in that backpack right there but i promise the person that left a bad that i would not touch it until he. i nudged him and i said so who is against you are so worried about and he said this bag was left behind by osama number two and i thought at that moment i think it is time to get back to the hotel tonight. >> host: you have already in
so it didn't spoil your appetite. >> guest: the next day because the sky as we were about to go back to the taliban camp and his response when we said we're having second thoughts about this, we are worried and his response was no way am i going to go with us, those guys are extremists. this was the divided. >> host: this guy who has had a house guest, osama bin laden's number two, is scared of the other taliban guys you are on the road to made. >> guest: totally so a day later we go to meet, we have been invited by the serious and taliban causing all the problems right now is what so in october 2007 before the pakistan army had rolled in every one of the taliban are gaining strength but no one knew quite to what extent so there were two ways to get to the taliban can from the main city. there was this what river separated and you could either go around on a bridge across the miles of taliban country running
the risk at random check point someone did not get the message you're the welcome for a guest of the day and something untoward to happen or you could just ride along the main road, part of the card and board a carrot that was attached to a supply. that was taking moscow hours across the river to the middle of the camp. we clearly chose the second option, it seemed the more fun and less dangerous oddly enough and boarded this carriage with about six other guys and watched as a car and our chances of any sort of quick getaway disappear on the other side of the road. and we arrive in the middle of this taliban camp and it was like you said, it was a summer camp. there ridgy high hopes that are playing over the pa system, everyone running around with guns and long hair and floppy caps. >> host: by the way to interject, one of the many things people don't understand about pakistan is this is a land of would-be poets and poetry is incredibly powerful, the language and not just arabic
poetry but it has a great political traditions so you are seeing a wide range of traditions in this one camp resonating with the people. >> guest: very much so and the nature of the poetry was it was a rite of passage in was a father telling his son then you have grown up and now it is time to go fi jihad. that was the refrain is being repeated hazmat and it tends to be a little more level oriented. >> guest: so we met the guy who is running this whole operation right now that no one has seen in years literally and he emerged, welcome to me and here is this young goofy guy with winstone teeth and long hair. he said you are welcome to spend as i can go wherever you like. i leave to my translator and said, tell him that we very much appreciated by that we're in a camp right now with cents 215,000 people who are all eager to find any american. ask him if any sort of a
bodyguard with a great and as a show of the hospitality he took his senior bodyguard for the day and said what the american and a local journalist to make sure nothing happens to them so harry are crawling around the camp with his top lieutenant as a bodyguard. so there was the moscow, the friday service, and shortly after that the taliban has set up a wooden platform in the middle of the river on the bank to is ever going to administer their first public lashing on this particular day and myself and tenor 15,000 people lined up around thomas sat around a platform and they marched three individuals who had been arrested in in an alleged kidnapping plot and march each of them on the platform and lashed them 25, 20 and 15 times depending on the extent of their involvement in the crimes. >> host: and that is another thing that often does mess in western reporting is a bad the taliban and similar organizations and other muslim
countries have been able to make great inroads of the people because the locals are disgusted with corruption in the local justice system and the taliban along with sharia law appear at first to bring some integrity where you cannot bribe the taliban, you'd get punished if a molested a woman etc., and later on, of course, the taliban who becomes oppressive as we have seen in pakistan but clearly it was resonating with those people on that day. >> guest: you are right and they have tapped into a vein. the government writ have collapsed, there was no police, there was no security service of the taliban are the only ones who are racing around pickup trucks to stop kidnappers. the taliban are the only ones punishing people so it is hard to identify exactly what is the main driver of the initial thrust of the taliban appeal but this is one of them. the second one important pakistan has never had on my
kenya significantly and/or forms so there are massive land owners with lots of people. >> host: such as a way to benazir bhutto's family. >> guest: exactly and this is why parts of pakistan that have yet to be infected with this taliban problem are in many ways right for it because you have hundreds of thousands of people living on one man lords property, very oppressed, very downtrodden and if the taliban can come in and promised to sort of it give them strength and no longer be realigned and deciding was based on sharia and not on the limbs of the landlord whether it be benazir bhutto's family or what not, that struck a chord. >> host: based on my own experiences and pakistan i've often joked, only half as of the corruption and pakistan is so bad in this nigeria look like a quaker meeting but it is not just corruption but hypocrisy and i know from your book he saw plenty of it. what used to trouble me in pakistan in a hotel if i wanted
a beer and an international hotel i had to sign half a dozen different forms and delivered to my room where i could trick is secretly looking away from the prior orientation for a backpack. and yet when you go to pakistan party is among the elite the whiskey preferably johnnie walker blue if not black last choice indian whiskey is flowing freely and i know you saw this. the point being given out corruption, you've got hypocrisy and also as you just alluded to some of the most profound differences in wealth between of the phenomenally rich ruling families of pakistan and the people who live in virtually medieval bondage, serfdom. >> guest: kerry much so, if i could talk about the urban elite. >> host: please do. >> guest: i think this is a key to understanding why pakistan is not sold hisself up until now that fighting the taliban is their war. the urban elite as you mention
will not drink whiskey at night, will talk very much in support of taliban. everyone in pakistan, many are in love with taliban idea. >> host: the romance. >> guest: the guys that are righteous, simple, basic muslims or just trying to implement the law and yet no one really wants to live under those same guys. they did want history to be patrolled by them as really do want to be last buy them so this is a major difference and up until recently when the taliban advanced within 60 miles of islamabad and copper the district where it is near slot, i don't think the population realize the reality of the balkans was becoming more and more real and it was on their doorstep in many ways. >> host: nick, i know from what you have said and from your book that you believe that pakistan will muddle through and yet the scenario you just described it, the situation in detail in your book sounds
eerily like the situation in the mid-1970s under the shah of iran. >> guest: you're right and that i find myself going back and forth thinking about that. i find myself adopted the position of pakistan will muddle through and then there have been certain people who over the course of the past. have said what is in place to really prevent pakistan from devolving in a situation becoming like iran in 1979 and initial response was pakistan has a huge army and, of course, it was better equipped than the pakistan so i think that's what prevents it from being that i think we are beginning to see a sea change. i think that taliban overplay their hand and the taliban overplay their hand by moving and i think we are going to gradually see a shift. it is really interesting that president -- president zardari for all of his faults. >> host: and they are many. >> guest: is actually a fairly
savvy character and i don't think that he did this on purpose but inadvertently the peace deal with the taliban that he signed was sold to western countries and western diplomats as we are going to give the taliban this. if they move out of this then we will know their real intentions are and you know what, the irony and i don't give him full credit for having planned it this way but the irony is the taliban did just that, they moved out end of the country has turned against the taliban in many ways. so is a where strategic success on his part to that in light of objectivity i feel like i should give him credit for. >> host: i certainly, the question now as we speak today is whether the pakistanis army will continue the offensive or will be another aborted one, but we're speaking right now with a terrific young author of a brave young man. if nicholas schmidle, author of a "to live or perish forever". i like to briefly move away from your adventures in pakistan and
bangladesh. just ask you, this is remarkably mature and melvin polk, where have you learn to read this well? >> guest: as a good question as max ileana and the u.s. will system. >> guest: that is very kind. >> host: it is clean and clear. >> guest: i read something once and i can professor having followed his advice to 80 but i read something was in an interview, i think in hemingway's nonfiction collection called by line and a sort of a young apprentice of his said, how do i learn to write, papaw? and having less response was you've got to read the classics because you've got to know what you're up against. journalists are very competitive in terms of the story but i don't think there at that competitive in terms of the way they tell the story and so what i have always tried to do, there were a lot of reporters and pakistan not actually in swaps, but that were working on a similar things like what i was there always tried to find a way to tell the story cleaner, more
compelling, more character driven, and so that notion that hemingway notion of knowing what you're up against and always competing, why right if you're not going to try something better than what has been done previously? >> host: it is very well done in chile the character portraits and there are many in this book, some short and some details, they really work. the pakistan -- the pakistanis in this book to get off the page and live and breathe for the raiders so my congratulations on that. what is next for you? borat ventures? >> guest: good question. >> host: please don't, you'll become a washington drown? >> guest: no, i actually, i was kicked up pakistan was coming to a set of pakistan again so unfortunately as long as i -- i'm obviously to some extent of running to the security establishment there. i have no idea why it is still in aggrandizing thing to say but i have pushed pakistan for its a
bit. i was in the maldives for a month and wrote a article about climate change to "the new york times", have done some seven north africa and hoped to begin spreading out. i'm really interested in how the economic crisis, what are the political instability results with economic crisis and how will this recalibrate the sort of political center around the world as various right-wing and left-wing groups prop up to use the crisis to their advantage to. >> host: during your two years in pakistan that captured so marvelously in this book, you did get to india. india did not capture you, did not excite you? this back to some extent india is very eclectic and it is enchanting, but we went to india as a vacation. >> host: not enough trouble for you? >> guest: i don't know, i feel very comfortable in muslim countries. the call to prayer -- i was in
minneapolis two weeks ago and there's a large sum of the community in minneapolis and side some of these malls that there are no windows and just very close, there are very much reflected traditional soup. in the call to prayer is going off. >> host: as our market place. >> guest: in the call to prayer is going off and struck a chord and i thought this is familiar. there is something that is very comfortable about the culture for me so we will see. but i did spend some time in bangladesh which is culturally religiously very much like pakistan. >> host: and had been part of pakistan, a partition in 1947. it's gone off after the civil war in 1971 and now is one of the poorest and most live in countries in the world. >> guest: exactly right as socially couldn't be more different than pakistan. >> host: how? >> guest: the conspiracy hawking, this sort of notion that there is a cia plot behind
every organization in bangladesh is not there so i didn't have to address a local close, before i went into the taliban areas i was dying by here to try to blend in because the fear factor was there and in bangladesh you could roll into any religion talk to people and ask questions -- it was very easy to work, very simple country, in terms of simple people that come with a lot of psychological baggage like pakistan often. >> host: a very svengali tradition which is different but in your book explains to a degree why is she is and hasn't really got trashed in there and bangladesh which is another huge muscle country. >> guest: bangladesh in 1971, many people tell you that bangladesh fought for independence to free itself of what they is on the supposition that pakistan was trying to impose on it. geographically india the second largest country in the world, third in the world was in the middle of pakistan and bangladesh so geographically it
was an untenable notion that these would be one country. pakistan establishment based in of the west wing of pakistan as we know it was trying to connecting them and all the countries together through increasingly intense is a long campaign so many people will tell you that many thought was all ready to free themselves and impose a secular democracy and the five against islam and the art about to let it happen again. so you do see a very vibrant civil reaction against the emergence of islamist parties and what not. >> host: one thing we need to talk about in this hour that has gone by quickly for you and i hope it has for years, you are a great storyteller in prison as well as on the page, is this huge desolate sometimes is threatening pakistan province of baluchistan in the southwest corner, the big boot. and you made it out there through the wilds to a port that
pakistan dreams of developing with chinese help as a world-class outlet for central asian oil and gas. >> guest: right so the sports -- so the ports is a dream. it is what the government is sort of banking on that this will become the next dubai so when i went there in that the fall of 2007 that had just built a glorious five-star hotel up on the top of a comet is a hammer head shaved bay and up on the top of this harbor. what has happened is in doing this coming in building this port and investing some much confidence the natives of the area feel very disenfranchised and they say this might be the next dubai but we're not going to get any piece of its. >> host: and i have been excluded from any real well for a long time. >> guest: totally and there was a shipping coming influential shipping magnate
their mentioned to me that the government was permitting the people from even its sweeping floors. there was no piece of this project was going to be for them. the politicians around the province had used, this had been agreed as they haven't been able locally and most recently as the nationalist parties have been able to leverage as the their drive and motivation to sever themselves from pakistan has mack. >> host: in your meeting lasted in people, fishermen being pushed out of existence. you are witnessing the destruction of an old civilization really come a fishing village, the people are attempting to turn into dubai and personally am skeptical whether they will do it again the reporting is just terrific. and as we move into the final few minutes of this interview, i wish we had more time, when a writer as good as you are finished as a book and finally sees it in printing, all was
inevitably he/she will certainly think but i did capture this or should have said that. well, i needed to get this person in -- any regrets are anything you thank you would have liked to put in or any person is -- should have been in their? >> guest: no, i don't argue . >> host: is perfect? >> guest: by no means perfect but this is a bug write about my life in those two years and a it is a piece of journalism and while it is a book obviously that i haven't written it is a reflection of the years that i've lived there and i kind of try and live by the notion that you do too did so there are certain people i wished i would have spent more time with, there are certain people i wish there were more characters for and i think the portraits . >> host: brilliant purchase. >> guest: at the wish there was another character i could have stuck to the link to really understand the mind of someone whether jihad or pakistan army
officer as so often is oversimplified. >> host: welcoming you did on the other hand in the opposite of this man you did this spend some time with senior political leaders, with the rich and the privileged in the islamabad and elsewhere. when you go from seeing the abject poverty in this rural areas or urban slums and karachi is another story in itself, to these parties -- who does that create some kind of psychological disconnect? >> guest: i often would rather -- i really tried to stay away from the party scene and tried to stay away from the beer crowds. >> host: and use it away from other expatriates'. >> guest: there was very little to contribute coming into the conversation was going to be immediately turned to how american policy is had handicapped pakistan's development, and not to totally -- america is not free of any responsibility and pakistan's lack of development by
supporting military dictatorships and what not, so the conversations with the elite for too easily predictable if you will and i think that when i first arrived in pakistan and woman said to me, a very conspiracy hawking anti-american woman said -- by sponsor, the irony of that, of course, -- she said there is no way that you like any other western journalists is going to understand pakistan because you don't speak the language, don't dress like, don't ever leave islamabad. but a year later when i was, i would rather stick with the tea boys at my office then the other fellows who were working at this institute and she came up to me and said there is no way you can be a journalist. a dress and speak locally and know what is going on with more than any other journalist so you must or for someone else. >> host: and i did find in pakistan, of course, for the plumbing breaks wherever there is plumbing the cia does get blamed. but i think innocence issue is right, nick.
sometimes the words fill us in the vocabulary doesn't pretend you can call this book to a work of journalism but it is just better than that, there is a much serious art history and maturity and objectivity. really i keep coming back to that, the amazing objectivity an american writer, a young american writers let's face it was able to achieve in a portrait of this incredibly complex society. so i do have to warn you of one thing, i thank you have made me in physical danger. not for a the pakistanis address service intelligence enzi or anyone else but from your peers who did not go to pakistan or anyone else, who stayed home on the campus and i tried to read the great american novel. and this may not be a novel and is non-fiction but it is a great piece of writing. nicholas schmidle, the book is "to live or perish forever", and as a fellow writer i am just plain jealous.
congratulations to. >> guest: thanks. >> this summer booktv is asking, what are you reading? >> hi, i am governor howard dean. in this summer i am reading the biography of thomas tillman, the first governor at the same ever on which did not join the union until the revolution was over and it is a fascinating look not just about a small state and as governess but about the revolution as a whole. told of the eyes of a say that wasn't sure it would be a state. >> to see more program information visit our web site at booktv.org.
>> up next author and historian at john ferling joins booktv for air three our live in-depth interview from mount vernon. he will take your calls. >> host: the next three hours is your chance to take part in the discussion with author and historian john ferling. join us as in step the welcomes the author of 10 books including almost a miracle: the american victory in the war of independence, a leap in the dark: the struggle to create american republic, and adams vs. jefferson: it's a multiple selection of a 200. his latest book is the ascent of george washington: the hidden political genius of an american icon. ..