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Argument ensues between Afghan security personnel and Pakistani journalists at press conference
Friday, January 5, 2007
Islamabad --- The Pakistani journalists who visited Kabul this week, as part of the prime minister's entourage, saw that an uncertainty about the future possessed the average Afghan's mind. They found hostility towards Pakistan in the Afghan capital as chilling as the cold there.
Conversations with journalists showed the prolonged stay of the Nato troops had started to sow doubts about the West's long-term designs on Afghanistan.
A senior government official told Dawn that the Taliban's demise had been welcomed by people in Kabul, but the Pakhtun heartland in southern Afghanistan nursed fond memories of the militia's rule.
He conceded that the Karzai administration has failed to win hearts and minds of different linguistic and ethnic groups. He also admitted that the country's finances were a shambles.
Another official was critical of the government for, as he put it, not co-opting Pakhtuns in the power-sharing edifice. He also criticised the government for ignoring the Taliban and Gulbuddin Hikmatyar Hezb-i-Islami in decision-making.
Hostility to Pakistanis is pervasive. The Pakistani journalists got an early taste of the animosity when they were herded into the presidential palace for the news conference addressed by Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz and the Afghan president. They were one in defying orders to face the wall for a security search.
Barbs flew between the journalists and the security personnel who insisted that if the Pakistanis were interested in attending the press conference, they will have to go through a security check.
Pakistani journalists however proved a hard nut to crack, threatening to return to their hotel instead of undergoing the humiliating search. The security men were however persuaded by an astute presidential palace media coordinator to drop the idea altogether.
But more hostility awaited the visiting journalists when they entered the press conference hall. The media coordinator brusquely asked them to vacate a row of seats for the local media.
Pakistani journalists were joined by a diplomat in confronting the officials, who appeared to be itching to humiliate the guests.
However, sanity prevailed and the abrasive officials were told to show restraint.
Date Posted: 1/5/2007
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