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tv   QA A Reporters View of Afghanistan Pakistan Iraq  CSPAN  September 6, 2020 8:00pm-9:01pm EDT

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afghanistan-pakistan bureau chief. after that, our ministers questions from the british house of commons. >> next on q&a, pamela constable, who recently completed a lengthy tour as the washington post's afghanistan and pakistan bureau chief, talks about her experiences in the region. after that, a bbc profile of former british house of commons speaker, john bercow, who is stepping down from that post. then the latest on the 2020 campaign. ♪ host: pamela constable, longtime foreign correspondent for the washington post. i feel like i should start off by saying, welcome home. pamela: thank you.
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i'm delighted to be home. host: all told, how many years of your reporting career or percentage have you spent overseas? pamela: i guess,close to half. first with the boston globe, i worked for a number of years in latin america. that was close to a decade. then, off and on with the washington post, it comes out to be close to a decade. host: when you decided on journalism, how did you gravitate toward a foreign reporting? pamela: well, my earliest interest in journalism was more about domestic issues. poverty, drug addiction, social ills, you might say. i did a lot of work on that in the early years. then i guess, i don't know, i traveled overseas as a tourist, to unusual places, and i began to think some of these same issues were definitely there and more and the struggles and problems were deeper and broader. and i just wanted to try that.
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host: what special skills does it take to be a foreign affairs journalist, as opposed to someone working domestically? pamela: i mean, there is a number of things i would not necessarily call them skills, but there is a number of ways you have to be. you have to be ready to change things quickly, to make decisions very rapidly, to change course, to leave if something is dangerous, to go places you were not expecting to go. you have to be prepared, depending on where you are, to go for a long time without sleep, sometimes without taking a shower or washing your hair. you have to be really prepared to be mobile and very flexible. as well as, you know, sort of intrepid. you have to be willing to go places that other people may not be willing to go because you are looking for something that is a problem, usually.
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there is a revolution, there's poverty, there is a natural disaster election fraud, something happening that is disturbing. that is generally why you are there. again, it is not for everyone. you also need to be either able to speak foreign languages or have somebody with you who is very good at speaking whatever language you are working in. because you do not want to miss things, miss the subtlety, the nuance. you can probably learn to read a headline quickly or say hello, but you really want to -- you are being immersed in a place, sometimes for the first time, where you don't know people sometimes. and you want somebody to be able to help you who can really give you the real sense of what is going on. host: that translator has to be a partner in reporting with you. pamela: absolutely.
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host: how do you find someone -- do you stay with them so that you can trust their skill level and interpretation, and also that they know the nuances of what they are translating? pamela: in many cases, there is already somebody there. there are a number of cities i've worked in where they had a full-time, one or even two, interpreters assigned, who live there, work there, know the languages. and you went out with them as a matter of course. so that helps a great deal. but if it is a crisis, a place you have never been, then you are really stuck. so one of the things i've done , over the years when i was in that situation, i would land at the airport and ask the taxidriver to bring me to the nearest newspaper. i would row myself at the mercy of the editor and ask for someone to help me out. and i would offer to pay them and sometimes they would want to go with me. that was one obvious thing to try. it didn't always work. generally, i was able to find somebody at least for the first few days that could help me out and see what happened after
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that. host: where there particular challenges as a female journalist working in muslim countries over the past few years? pamela: at first. i made mistakes. i always tried to dress modestly but sometimes it was not modest enough. sometimes i failed to cover my ankles, didn't realize i was disturbing people i was talking to. although those tended to be more when i was interviewing religious cleric or something like that and i thought i was dressed properly and it turned out i was not dressed properly enough for them. so i learned how to adjust that. one of my favorite incidents was when i was interviewing a leader of the taliban during -- when they were in power and i was with another woman, and we were interviewing this taliban official. we were both very tired, hadn't slept in a long time, and something he said or something sounded funny and we both started giggling. this is a huge mistake.
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and the man was extremely offended and got up and left the room and never came back. so you really have to be able to restrain yourself, i would say. and adapt to the circumstances and to the audience. you don't want to offend people, you don't want to disturb them. sometimes people will say things that are very critical of the united states or of the west. that is more common than somebody saying something offensive about being a woman or causing problems. people tend, generally speaking, speaking very broadly now, more helpful to a woman than to a man. they can also try to take advantage of you in various ways. but generally, my experience has been that if they are not going to like something about you, or mistrust something about you, it is not going to be because you are a woman. it is going to be because you are an american. host: you wrote you were never injured but you lost many friends, a number of friends. how did you stay safe all those years? pamela: i've been injured many times in small ways. i would not bother recounting. stuff happens. i've been covered black and blue and fallen out of humvees and all of her stuff.
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stuff.orts of nothing seriously damaging. i feel very, very lucky about that. and yes, i have lost very close friends. in some ways, it is the luck of the draw. one of my oldest closest friends was killed in iraq, but in a car accident. was connected to the war, it was during the war and they were probably going too fast, probably nervous. in the car was a terrible car accident. she was killed. again, it was being there but not directly connected with the violence, so to speak. other friends i've lost were people who had to get closer to the action, particularly people who worked in television. a very close colleague of mine, television journalist was killed in a suicide bombing. just last year where he had gone, it was one of those terrible situations where
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somebody reported a suicide bombing in a certain neighborhood and then they sent out the television crew in kabul to follow it up and when they got there, there was a second bomb. this happens a lot. and it is particularly cruel. but i lost other kinds of friends. in kabul, there was a wonderful restaurant where i used to go all the time with friends. it was a lovely oasis. very casual and nice. the owner was a wonderful lebanese gentleman who i had gotten to know over the years. one time, it was in 2014, i was not there at the time but i had been there the week before. i was back in washington. the taliban broke into the restaurant, set off bombs, and shot and killed everyone inside including the owner. and it was awful. it was a real turning point for me and many of my foreign friends there.
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host: turning point in what way? pamela: of feeling where is , their sanctuary for us? where can we be safe? where can we feel welcome? i mean there were other issues like some places served alcohol and that was a separate issue. it made a some places have problems. of course, there were embassies and there were people's homes, and i felt very welcome in a variety of people's homes. i still have several very close friends in kabul with beautiful, beautiful homes and offices that i could go to. but it was more the sense of feeling like -- i mean, i was in iraq. i did know what urban wherefore -- warfare was like. i had experienced urban street to street warfare. i had not expected that in kabul. that incident and several others that happened after that made it feel much more like that. host: the last three years, you
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were stationed in kabul covering the region. what was your life like? were you living in a compound, in the community with people and how did you keep yourself safe in that environment? pamela: i had lived in afghanistan for a number of different times, different periods of time. sometimes in hotels, sometimes in guest houses, sometimes in community homes. almost always shared with other journalists, other foreign journalists. but in the last several years, there were fewer foreign journalists there, and the safety became much more precarious. so, during these last several years when i was there, myself and most of the other western journalists, we lived inside the diplomatic zone. which was highly guarded, high barriers, lots of body checks. car checks, searches on the way in and out. it was much more restricted. it was still a nice house and office, but once you are outside
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the actual place you were in, you are very much in a confined area. host: so when you would go out to do your reporting from where you lived, how did you travel? did you have to take special precautions or did you blend in with society as you made your way to report? pamela: you can never blend in. somebody who looks like me would never blend in. in the early years after the taliban lost power, there were lots of westerners around in the streets going to restaurants, going out, doing things, shopping. going to meetings, not casually, but more normally. but in these past several years, because the danger was much worse and there were so many suicide bombings and so many attacks, i would go out when i needed to or when i wanted to, but not casually,
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not without letting somebody know in my office where i was going. i have not walked on the streets of kabul in a long time. always in a car, always stopping, and then leaving, staying a short time and then leaving. very, very different from the early years when you literally could just walk around. if i did walk down a main street in kabul today, i would not see anyone who looked like me. host: so, you have brought photographs along that we are going to use to help understand your experience. importantly, help americans understand this region of the world we have been so involved in over the past couple decades. before we get into that in a macro sense, in 2004, you wrote a book titled "fragments of grace, my search for meaning in the strife of south asia." and now, another decade has gone by and it has gotten more complicated. what is happening with your own search for that meaning as the situation you have been covering gets even more complex?
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pamela: it is a very good question. and one i can't answer yet. it is certainly something that i have thought about a lot. comparing before and after. i've thought about ways to write about it. one of the reasons that i felt it was time to come back from living in those countries was because i felt i was losing some of my creativity, some of my sense of something that is important and new and exciting, and how do you write about it? how do you keep writing about something that is not getting better, that is not changing, that is still -- how do you write about suicide bombings for the dozenth time in a way that is different? obviously the people are different, you can find out about them, their circumstances will be different. a recent bombing at a wedding which was very unusual.
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there has been everything that is different. but it is the same problem that keeps recurring and recurring. i had stayed a few extra months because there was great hope that the peace talks would bear fruit. instead they were canceled. and they are now still suspended. we don't know what is going to happen with that. so, i felt as if the search for meaning as i originally called it before, was harder to find. and the title, 'fragments of grace' which i used, and if you read my book, it had a lot antidotes about people i had met who were special, or not necessarily people who had won something or gained something, but people who had touched me. peoples whose experience had touched me. in reporting about whom, i had found something uplifting. that was what i was looking for. that is what i meant by that
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title. and that has become harder and harder to find. you still find people that are doing something special, who are unusual, triumphing over adversity. my more recent book, the one about pakistan, my epilogue is about a man who was an extraordinary man, i think is actually probably the only saint i have ever met. he's dead now, an elderly man who came from a well-to-do family, could have had a normal career in business, but he devoted his life to helping the very, very, very poor. in a really unique way. he founded this ambulance service. it was basically a very nitty-gritty. one of the specialties of his work was going around and collecting dead bodies of people that did not have anybody to bury them. very, very humble.
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and literally wanting to help those who had no help. i was very inspired by him and i was glad that i did meet him before he died. host: before we look at your photographs, how did photography become part of your work? pamela: i've always loved to take pictures. everywhere i've gone, i have always taken lots of pictures. sometimes they have been used in newspapers, other times not, sometimes they have been in my books. i always feel it adds so much of the texture and richness of what you are reporting on. to show people. host: how many do you think you have now? pamela: thousands and thousands. host: what are you going to do with them all? pamela: a lot of them are -- would be hard to use now. they are in an old camera, or even before that, film. a lot of it was film in the early days. most of my work from latin america and taking pictures was
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all in film. somewhere i have the slips of glycine negative somewhere. more recently, the chips. and now it is all digital. i also have my cell phone destroyed and i lost a lot of those. i have saved precious ones but i've lost some precious ones. host: we are going to start with afghanistan. as i mentioned before we started taping, i will give our audience a very brief facts about the major countries we will talk about so they have some contract -- some context. these are from usaid. 40 million people live in the country. 25% urban. 75% rural. the median age is 19. life expectancy, 52 years. 99% muslim, 85% are sunni. per capita income, $550 a year.
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here is the u.s. connection, the usaid budget including the department of defense, all aid to the country in 2016, $5.7 billion. u.s. spending on the war since 2001, $975 billion. u.s. military casualties, 20,000 people wounded. civilian casualties estimated at 38,000. that is from brown university. that is the state of the country. who are the combatants there today? pamela: today, the war, there has been a real roller coaster with different phases and different players, you might say. it is obviously the american and nato component that is much smaller. there is really only a few thousand international forces there left. and they are basically confined to training and advising, except for the special forces who do
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participate in combat with the afghans. that is a separate program. not the major part of the war. so you still have the taliban. the taliban which came roaring back in 2006, 2007, and 2008, still remains as a full-fledged, very committed, very well armed insurgency. and it is still wreaking havoc all over the country, including the capital. you have the much smaller fraction of isis, or the islamic state, which is not affiliated with the taliban. sometimes it works with them and sometimes against them. they are internationally based, they are not domestically based the way the taliban is. they are much smaller in numbers. they are extremely ruthless in afghanistan as they have been elsewhere. they do a lot of damage, which is punching far above their numbers, especially in suicide
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bombings. they have done dozens of suicide bombings in kabul and other cities which have been extremely devastating. so, those are the two bad guy factions. and the other side, you have afghan forces, you have military, police, you have an air force and you have afghan advisors, international advisors. the afghan forces have been through a lot of difficulties, a lot of ups and downs. they have come under criticism for corruption, poor leadership, for really intrinsic problems. there is new leadership now in the afghan forces which the americans and nato leaders have a lot of hope for. they seem to be doing a better job. the war is still at a stalemate. talks are not happening anymore.
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so, there is not a pause in the fighting but there is certainly a pause in figuring out how to stop it. host: to understand what life is like for the citizens of this country, we are going to look at your pictures. they go back in time. our first one is from 2015. this is during the elections. searching of a woman voter. you have chosen these. what does it say to us about the situation at the time and the hopefulness around elections in the past? pamela: that is a woman in the shiite hazara neighborhood of kabul, which is a large poor minority district, which has received the brunt of attacks by both taliban, particularly by isis, in the capital. she was in a long line of women voters, being searched before going to the polls. men vote separately there. i think she was sort of startled by me rather than by what she was doing.
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the shia, the hazara minority in kabul is better educated and very politically committed than a lot of other groups. they really are. a lot of them have come back from long exile in iran. so, women tend to be better educated, they have more rights, i should say more encouragement from their families and their community to do things like vote. to be out in public. to be participating in public life. in many parts of afghanistan, especially rural ones, which are pashtun or tajjik, you don't see that as much. even though she is looking sort of disturbed, she represents a very important trend of women participating in public life in afghanistan.
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despite the dangers. her community has been attacked many times, including during elections. host: for women in the cities, are there more rights? is there a rural or urban divide in how women are treated? pamela: yes. there is a rural-urban split in every social and political sense. women in the capital and in provincial capitals in large cities, women tend to go there to have jobs or get education, or because their families want them to be more involved in things. there are a lot of things that they can do. women can work and ministries, women can teach school, women have more accepted roles in urban society in afghanistan. no matter what their ethnic background. in village life, in many parts of the country, they are very circumscribed by culture and society in what they can do. in many parts of the country, they do not leave home without being fully covered, including their face, and without having a
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male relative at their side. which means their lives are very, very circumscribed in many parts of the country. the culture still does not accept that women should go to school after they reach the age of puberty. most of afghan society accepts they should go to school as young girls. but once they reach the age of puberty, which in that society is considered the age of marriage, or almost the age of marriage, or certainly the age of being betrothed, many cases they are taken out of school. host: the next photograph, this is 2016. it is titled "women mourning in a kabul graveyard." pamela: it was a particularly haunting place geographically. this is the very, very far south western edge of kabul which is on the edge of the desert.
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those women, with some children, are participating in mourning. after there was a terrible suicide bombing. this was in august 2016. there was a peaceful protest among young hazzara leaders and students and others that had to do with basic rights, had to do with electrical power access, it had to do with a variety of complaints that the community had. there were thousands and thousands gathered at a giant traffic circle in kabul. there was a suicide bombing there which was attributed to the islamic state, in which i believe 80 were killed and i think hundreds injured. it was a terrible bombing. in muslim custom, you have to be buried very quickly. this was probably within 48 hours. these were probably mothers and aunts and other relatives of some of the victims. host: so much of your work had to be centered on this.
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how have you processed all of this strife around religion and religious factions, especially in islam over the years? so much of this to westerners seems really incomprehensible. help us understand how these daily bombings people have to live with, and the constant threat of people within other sections of their religion, really don't want them to integrate or be part of their lives? pamela: it is a complicated question that you are asking. perhaps one way to answer it is to look at something as a spectrum or continuum. because there are many different factions. there is factions within both religions. we have to state from the outset that in the case of afghanistan, there are no christians to speak of.
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essentially these -- this is a muslim society. 99 point something muslim. but there is a spectrum. so, if you want to take it in terms of, i don't know, liberalism versus orthodoxy, or modern versus ultraconservative, there is everything. so you find, you know, on one end you will find -- again, hazaras who have come back from iran who are wearing clothing much like i'm wearing, not like you are wearing, but much like what i'm wearing. normal clothes with a headscarf. going to school, learning computers and, english, getting excited about the future, and on the far end of the spectrum you would have particularly in parts
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pashtun parts of the country, ultra, ultra restrictions on social behavior. in terms of the right to marry, which is all arranged and which has nothing to do with what you are interested in, but it is not just about women. that is why it is hard to answer that question. look at the taliban. the taliban are sunni muslims. they are from the dominant muslim sect in afghanistan. what's the difference between them and non-taliban sunni muslims? the difference is not that great. what they actually believe in -- and what they observe is not that different. in many cases, it is coincidence. it's the same. praying five times a day, observing the religion in the same way, the difference is that most people, most afghans do not want to see violence and extreme
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cruelty used to propagate or to enforce their religion. host: back to photos. the next 1, 2016, also from kabul. a scavenger boy gathering garbage near the palace. pamela: yes. when i was looking at this picture the other day, it is good to show it. that palace has now been completely renovated. it is undergoing this massive renovation. it's very beautiful now. that was built in the 1920's. by king amanoula. he lived there and it was a beautiful old palace that was destroyed in successive wars. it stood for years as an emblem and an eyesore of all the terrible violence that has destroyed kabul over the years. when i took that picture which was about three and a half years ago, i really thought, it really said so much. there is a little boy who can't go to school, he's got this
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ragged bag in which he is collecting garbage, and that's what he does all day. and he happens to be near this extraordinarily once magnificent building that has been destroyed by all the wars in his country. i thought that picture said a lot. host: next is with someone you call your best friend. this is 2016. king kong. [laughter] king kong is my best friend and i hope he lives a long life and continues to be. is he here in the states? pamela: he is in kabul. he is an old fighting dog. i try to help animals in my private time, especially animals that have been injured or ill. i work with afghan people who try to help them as best they can. king kong, again it's another , suicide bombing. this was about five years ago. there was a terrible suicide
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bombing in a neighborhood. at that time, i was going out more in the streets and i went to this bombing site with my translator and driver. and we were talking to people. we saw in this alley, this wretched looking heap of bones that was a dog that was almost dead. it was covered with sores and wounds and was starving to death. believe it or not even though is a very large dog, i picked him up. i picked him up with my driver and we put him in the car. children were throwing stones at him. he was almost dead. and we picked him up and put him in the car and took him back to a place where we were keeping and trying to help animals. in these past five years has recovered to be the healthy, , happy, loving dog.
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no one had ever loved him. he now loves people. he now is a joy to be around. he is a gentle giant that is i think emblematic of a society emblematic of a society, where so many things have been badly harmed. he is a symbol of hope. susan: two more from afghanistan. this is 2017. it is kabul or cobbler. his modest life in a war-torn country. pamela: i really liked him. you cannot quite see. that is a niche in a wall that he has made in his cobbler's shop. he sits there all day long every day and i used to drive by it most every day on my way somewhere because it was near my office. i started to stop there from time to time. with my translator, and chat
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with the guy. then i got him to fix my shoes once, and i could see that he would be paid a dollar. this old gentleman represented a different era of time in that country. everything was personal and quiet. all of his customers were just friends who would come and have a cup of tea and get their shoes fixed. but the other aspect of the story that is not obvious from looking at him is that, as i decided to do the story and spent more time in that neighborhood, i discovered every man i met, every shopkeeper had been affected by the wars in some way. they had all lost someone. they had all either been bombed or someone disappeared. just in this tiny crossroads, of modest little shops everybody , there had a story to tell about what had happened to their family in the past 30 years of war.
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and that is what the story was about. susan: the last 2017 as well, one, this is stormy. a donkey. pamela: stormy. i actually did get injured. i had forgotten about that injury. i was on a military base. i am not the strongest person but i was carrying a heavy pack and i had body armor on and i had a helmet on. and it was dark at night. i was walking into this military base and i tripped and fell on a cement parking lot. that is the result. so nobody hurt me. it was just bad luck. anyway stormy was a donkey. , i worked with veterinarians who were treating donkeys there.
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donkeys in many parts of the world they carry heavy burdens. they carry bricks, dirt and stones on their backs. they get no rest. they often do not get well fed. they almost never get medical treatment. if you saw stormy under that blanket, you wouldn't be able to show it. covered with sores and wounds. bleeding. just the saddest creature. so we took care of him for a quiet long time. it took six months until his wounds were healed. we didn't have a place to keep thenwe didn't have a place to keep him. we sent them to live with a nice farmer that somebody knew. now he is living on a farm a half hour from kabul and we send them some money each month to make sure that he eats well. susan: pakistan. 207 million people in pakistan, 36% urban, the median age is 24. life expectancy, 68.
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96% muslim. u.s. aid in 2019 was only $280 million. by comparison to what we saw in afghanistan. and you wrote a book in 2011 about this country playing with fire, "pakistan at war with itself." what is the thesis of that book? pamela: the thesis of that book is that, when you live in pakistan, you would see that it is a country with tremendous potential. it has everything a country could want or need to develop or mexico ora south africa or turkey. it has a huge population to do work. it has lots of industrial development, huge cities and huge agriculture. it has natural resources. it has everything it could need to get ahead except for the fact
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that it has a very entrenched feudal elite. i say feudal as a state of mind, not in terms of property owning. the gap between the rich and poor is still too big. there is a real ceiling. you cannot get ahead in that country. it is very difficult to rise above poverty unless you have a connection of some sort. the public systems of welfare and health and education is very, very limited. what that has led to, among other things, is the increasing popularity of extreme forms of islam. the radicalization of islam, particularly sunni islam, and that country, particularly allied with the taliban. allied with al qaeda. allied with these other groups. it has been in many cases, because young people have very few options or ways to get ahead. so you have preachers everywhere
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, and radical, exciting meetings and opportunities and come join us and go to heaven. so it is very appealing. the picture on the bottom, that is a rally. that is a rally by young pakistanis supporting a man who assassinated a governor. he was the governor's bodyguard and he assassinated him because he believed the governor was sacrilegious because he had defended a woman accused of blasphemy. and so this bodyguard murdered his own boss, killed him with 26 shots and he became a hero and a saint to hundreds of thousands of pakistanis. maybe even millions. on two photographs. 2016, this is a bakery. how large is the refugee community in pakistan?
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pamela: it's much smaller now. during a succession of wars, the soviet time and then the civil war and then the taliban time. three successive waves of refugees fleeing afghanistan across the 2000 mile border into pakistan. for a long time, there has been sofor a long time, there has been an enormous refugee , population, because of the wars, many just settled there. this is a bakery that has been in pakistan for a long time. maybe 20 or 30 years. it is very successful. but there are constant disputes between the two countries. and pakistan is always trying to send the refugees back. and the refugees are always trying to stay. it's a long, complicated tale. i like that bakery because it has become an institution. now, in it's on way. people know it makes good bread and they go there. susan: another young person.
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taylor pakistan in 2017. you write millions of school aged children work in low-paying jobs. pamela: the public education system is very limited in pakistan. there are lots of great schools for those who can afford it. but for millions of families, most children work part-time or full-time. many go to school in the mornings and work in the afternoons. being a tailor is a typical form of child employment. many girls work in weaving carpets at hand looms. that's is very backbreaking work. others work in brick quarries, making bricks, which is backbreaking work. there are number of jobs they do. there are many scavengers. i thought that boy was particularly poignant. susan: are there western factories there that make clothes for the u.s.?
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pamela: well, for the west. textiles is one of the biggest industries, but it takes a lot of skilled labor. the textile mills are a large employer of adults, but not so much children. susan: back to women. this is probably pending, rawalpindi, pakistan women in burkas , shoppping. a lot of colors. pamela: that is a bazaar that specializes in weddings. clothes.lose -- there are a lot of ribbons and bangles. those women are mostly shopping for bangles and light jewelry. weddings are a huge business in pakistan and are the premier social activity. there are constant weddings, large families everyone is , always getting married. getting married is sort of the
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main social act of the society. it's a way for women to get out and socialize and shop. and it is very intrinsic to society. but as you can see, they are covered when they go out. susan: we often hear of those bombings happening at weddings. it sounds like there are plentiful targets. pamela: there have only been a handful that i know of. it is pretty rare that a wedding would be bombed. just a handful of times. but yes. susan: those are the things that seem to make their way through the filter to us. pamela: there are a lot of weddings that have been bombed mistakenly in pakistan by nato and american forces. that's the other side of the story. ,usan: another photograph pakistan, 2018. pamela: i told you my hair was a mess. [laughter] that's me. with a whole bunch of sheep.
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i was with the vet and treating some donkeys in the area. susan: for your nonprofit? pamela: yes. we happened upon this flock of sheep. i waded into it. i love that picture. susan: back to rawalpindi. this is recent. 2019. anti-polio campaign. pamela: that's one of the sad thing is happening. going back to the enormous potential it has that it hasn't measured up to, polio is making a comeback. it was almost eradicated. there were all kinds of campaigns. public campaigns, advertising campaigns, motorbike campaigns. this woman is administering drops in the school. thousands of people administering antipolio drops all over the country for the past decade. they were making great progress.
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they had several huge obstacles. one of which is that very conservative fundamentalist groups opposed polio vaccines including the taliban and , accused them of being a western plot to sterilize muslims. that was a big obstacle to the campaign. a lot of families got scared by that. also there is a lot of poverty and misunderstanding and fear in some of these communities that generally has made it harder to reach everyone. the government has worked hard to reach every child. this campaign which i wrote about in the past year, they're going door-to-door in school to school. susan: we are moving onto india. you have one photograph. this country has 1.4 billion people. the median age is 28. i looked up the u.s., in the u.s., it is 38.
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life expectancy, 69 years. 35% people live in cities. 21% of the population is below the poverty line. the united states gave the country $300 million in aid. we have one photo. allahabad, all the way back in 2000. why did you choose this? pamela: your producer asked me to find some pictures of me at work. i so rarely have pictures of me at work. i am a pre-selfie and a post selfie person. another journalist took this picture. a picture of me at an incredible hindu ceremony. i have never been to anything like it. i had not slept in days. this was it's a gathering held , every number of years. everybody who can go, goes. i think that were 5 million people there camping on the banks of this river, including
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me. that was one of the hindu priests or gurus. and i don't know why he was patting me on the head but there he was. i thought that was a hilarious picture. susan: we are reading so much about the rising tensions between india and pakistan, both nuclear states. how concerned are those of you who are on the ground in that region about nuclear conflict? i don't think, i would be astonished if a nuclear conflict were to break out between india and pakistan. there have been points in the past where it seemed like it might have happened, and everyone pulled back from the brink. i had to say that the rise of prime minister modi in india has ratcheted up the rhetoric, the
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belligerent rhetoric on both sides. it has made muslims in india and pakistan more worried about their rights. their freedom and i think india has the second or third largest muslim population in the world, there number of muslims so it is not like they are living in different worlds. it's not just country to country. there's cashmere, the border issue that has been flaring up recently. i don't think it could escalate into nuclear war. i don't think either government wants that to happen. i don't think the world wants that to happen. lots can happen short of that. but susan: we will move on to iraq. we could spend a whole hour on iraq. we have one photograph. it is a country of 40 million before thatit is a country of 40
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million people. , 70% are urban. which is interesting. per capita income is $5,000 last year. u.s. spent $3.7 billion, $2.1 of which wasn department of defense spending. overall the u.s. has spent $1.06 , trillion since 2003 in the region. u.s. casualties are 32,000 wounded. estimated 182,000 civilian casualties. help us understand those numbers in context of where it is today. pamela: that is a whole other story. iraq is a much wealthier country. it's an oil exporter. it had a much larger middle-class than afghanistan and proportionally pakistan. it's a more sophisticated country. but yet still it is divided , violently between the major to
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wo religious sects and the war against saddam hussein unleashed these forces and it was a very bloody conflict. it's going way back to u.s. policy and the decision to invade, which is past history and it is what happened. i guess today, i would say that there are still terrible problems there, partly because of the neighborhood what is happening , in syria and around them. iraq is making a comeback. it is coming back to its old self in terms of culture and society. i remember when the bookstores, they all got bombed and shut down and they are opening up again. the same with the cafés. there is a resurgence and revival.
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there is a real government in power now and it governs. so it is a state that is rebuilding itself. a society that is rebuilding itself. but again so much was destroyed. ,and there is still so much tension there religiously. -- this is not going to end soon, but it is in a much better position. to stabilize its future, then say, afghanistan. susan: our photograph is from 2005. i want to show you some video of a youtube documentary from the same theme. pamela: i was wondering if i sent you that. that is apache. he is a dog that i rescued in fallujah. i was embedded with the marines. susan: how do you remember him with all of the animals? pamela: he was the only dog i rescued in iraq. that makes them stand out.
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i found him in an abandoned car. he had been abandoned. he spotted a mark immediately and followed me around. so i ended up adopting him. and by hook or by crook, i got him back to baghdad and eventually found somebody who was willing to take him back to the states. i'm not quite sure what eventually happened to him but it certainly made me a happier person. pamela: let's look at this video. [video clip] >> during the most ferocious period of fighting, it was embedded with u.s. troops. wasmala constable embedded with u.s. troops. >> i went out in the day with some patrols. 4, 5 or six times. you follow them exactly. i would always put myself right behind one marine and i would step every step he took and stay in his shadow.
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he had a big weapon. because it was not a guarantee of safety, but it made me feel better. susan: that is a documentary from journeyman pictures. both of these are the time of intense u.s. conflict. over the course of your career, all these years spent in that region of the world, how much of it was in conflict zones as the conflict was happening? pamela: a great deal. i started in central america, in the covering the war in el 1980's, salvador, the country -- the contra situation in nicaragua. also, honduras. i spent a great deal of time in chile, covering the pinochet dictatorship. for many years. colombia with drug trafficking. korea -- guerilla. the same with peru. sri lanka, the civil war.
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a lot of the work has been in conflict areas. and that is by choice. no one forces you to do this. i felt it was important. i felt that the struggles people were going through with repression, with revolution, with poverty, with trying to just survive were important to write about and bring back to western readers who might otherwise not know about them. susan: you wrote a column about your country and how it seems different to you since you were here last time. what are your observations and how this country has changed in the last several years? i guess we will close on some of your big thoughts about your transition back into our society. susan: it's a difficult topic.
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obviously when you are overseas, covering a war, you grateful to grateful to be alive, and you are grateful to be protected, you try not to take sides. you are trying to do your job and trying to bring home the human side of a conflict without stating a policy or prejudice. but it's dangerous. it's physically dangerous. and you have to be on your toes all the time. as i said at the very beginning of this interview you always , have to be ready. you are always tense. as i had contemplated coming back to united states, i had really, obviously i follow the news like everyone else. but i had not been immersed in american society for a number of years. and what i was seeing and hearing in the news made me worried.
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because it made me feel as if these same kind of tensions are building up. and when you are overseas and people are critical of the u.s., you tend to say, you're not to -- supposed to take a position, but you feel like you want to represent something you are proud of and that you can tell people that we are doing our best. in the world and that i represent an independent newspaper i don't represent the , government. but i am an american and i am proud of that. it matters. and it means something special. and in these past several years, as there is much more controversy abroad about american government and policies and much, much more angry and violent argument in our country about basic issues, basic understandings of our laws and our government and way of life
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and what it means, it felt very alien to me. it felt, it was the first time i felt like after all these years coming and going that i was coming back to a society that was markedly different than the last time i had come back and that i wasn't sure what i would find. susan: one thing i'm sure that struck close to home i read your , biography and one of your first jobs was at the annapolis newspaper where five journalists lost their lives last year. pamela: that's right. how did you process that? pamela: it was very strange. as i wrote in that piece, i was sitting in my office in kabul, surrounded by high bunkers walls and razor wire. it really is a fortress. i'm sitting there looking out the window and i saw something online about something about annapolis. so i checked it. and, indeed, this angry young man had burst into the doors of the first new paper i had worked
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at out of college. my first paycheck, $125. it was a nice little paper, i made good friends there. nothing terrible ever happened. obviously there was crime and , there were political arguments, but it was a lovely town and lovely place to work. and some of my closest friends i met during that time, early 1974. and to have somebody burst in the door of that newspaper, and just shoot a spray of gunfire. it might have nothing to do with anything else, but it certainly has something to do with the times we live in, the availability of weapons and the ease with which raw, angry emotions, can turn into violence even in a place that matters a lot to you. susan: that is all the time we have. thank you for bringing your photographs in. will we be seeing more of your
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all you haverocess observed and observe our own country? pamela: i hope so. i will be writing from time to time and working on some longer writing projects that will hopefully see the light of day. >> thanks for being with us the last hour. >> you're very welcome. ♪ >> all q&a programs are available at our website or as a podcast on c-span.org. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2020] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] c-span, day weekend on madea it a car p.m. eastern, former white house chief of staff to pass for presidents -- past four presidents on how they did with crises during their administrations. >> the processing of
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information, always important to our president or any leader becomes extraordinarily important when you are dealing with crises. you have to stick to the process the chief has created and hopefully the president has empowered you to make sure the president is getting all the information they need to make the right decision. > watch c-span labor day weekend. >> tuesday, a campaign event with president trump at the winston salem north carolina airport. live coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. eastern on c-span. officialsd security speak tuesday at an annual cybersecurity summit. other speakers include security experts from amazon, whose allen hamilton, raytheon and cisco. live coverage begins at 9:30 a.m. on c-span2. --
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>> you're watching c-span, your unfiltered view of government, created by america's television companies as a public service and brought to you today by your television provider. >> british lawmakers return to the house of commons following their summer recess. british foreign minister restaurants and spoke with lawmakers about providing relief for the tourism and hospitality industry amid the coronavirus pandemic and addressed allegations that the government reversed course on covid-19 pandemic measures. this runs about 40 minutes. >> can i wish the leader of the opposition a happy birthday, as well? >> question number one. prime minister. >> thank you, mr. speaker. i shall have

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