Family says America’s government biased against Muslims
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – There’s a mountain bike in the hallway.
The oldest of Badar uz Zaman’s four children is contemplating
college. The parents try to fend off unsavory cultural influences.
This family 11 time zones ahead stayed with friends in Denver
last year, enjoying the same malls, aquarium and movies that
The living room of the uz Zamans might feel familiar for
Americans who also are unsettled, anxious about the recent
terrorist attacks and the possibility that violence will beget
They fear, as many fear, more trouble.
Their lives underscore the forces that connect families
But a visit with the uz Zaman family – in the quiet of a
living room rather than the tumult of a street demonstration –
also might help Americans understand how very differently some
people here view the world that now seems so conflicted.
The children, ages 11 to 16, just returned from
government-organized public rallies supporting Pakistan’s
pro-United States position in the war against terrorism. It’s a
stand that has divided the country in part because it aligns
Pakistan with a non-Muslim country that may attack Muslims in
Sitting on a red Afghan rug in their living room, where a
framed quote from the Koran – “The greatness of God has been
explained in a beautiful manner” – hangs over a Sony television,
the children blurt out what they really think: that U.S. leaders
have insufficient evidence against Osama bin Laden to justify
attacks on Afghanistan.
That America’s government is biased against Muslim people.
That pro-Israel lobbies guide the campaign against terrorism.
The television on this recent night replays images of
hijacked airliners crashing into World Trade Center towers. Badar,
47, confides he recently dreamed of F-16s flying above a horrible
“World War III?” he says. “Maybe.”
“These attacks may provide the American government another
cause, another excuse, for putting more military weapons in this
region,” 15-year-old Osama says. “These things scare us. We all
know the nuclear issue. I want a peaceful world.”
“Enmity in its heart’
Badar, giving voice to the divide political scientists see
between the West and the Islamic world, says he’s convinced that
“the West has enmity in its heart against Muslims.”
And like many on the other side of that divide, this family
wants the United States, beyond smoking out villains, to
You enter their two-story house through a white metal gate.
Hamida, 43, her head covered with a magenta veil, labors out of
sight in the kitchen.
Each day begins with hustle. Badar or Hamida drives the
children to school around 8. Hamida runs the household while Badar
buys and sells real estate, then breaks around 2 to take the
children home for a meal before returning to his office.
Thanks to Badar’s success, the family is preparing to move to
a bigger house in neighboring Rawalpindi. Everyone prays daily –
though not always five times. On weekends, they sometimes pile
into a black, four-door Toyota to visit the mountains up north.
As a boy, Badar memorized the Koran word for word. Now
Muslims around America – where Islam is the fastest-growing
religion – invite him to recite by memory during the Ramadan holy
month of fasting, a few hours each night.
Frequent trips to Denver
The family has been to Denver twice and Badar has come 13
times since 1985. He speaks fondly of Denver’s gold-domed mosque.
“There are opportunities,” Badar says of life in America.
Good universities. “Freedom.”
He considered moving his family to Denver but decided to stay
in Islamabad, the capital of this country of 141.6 million.
“In America, you are very busy,” Badar says. “Life is more
Americans sometimes felt out of balance, struggling to make
mortgage and car payments without cultivating family life. A
“cruel” interest-based banking system – the dominant global
banking system – may be part of the problem, he says.
“Islam says man’s life is more than just working and sleeping
– there must be space for the soul.”
Another issue was his discomfort with aspects of American
“Just watching television in the United States, you could see
it’s not good for the little ones – especially girls. Boyfriends
and girlfriends, those things. After 18, you have no control over
Badar is the son of a soldier who became a farmer. He grew up
in a stone house – no electricity or running water – in Waulah, a
town about 100 miles south of here.
A strict local imam spotted him at 13 and, with support from
Badar’s mother, drove him to memorize the Koran’s words. He hated
the challenge at the time, reading over and over by the flickering
light of a lantern. But he persevered.
“We want peace’
Now his children are studying too, not by lantern light but
at an elite public school where seniors aim for Oxford and Yale.
Coursework includes British history in eighth grade and the U.S.
Constitution and legal system in high school.
They adopt their critical posture toward the United States,
Badar says, because they read the two newspapers that arrive daily
at the house.
They also take in television, conversations with teachers and
parents, and words in the Koran that call for defense of Islam.
“It’s not that we hate the American people,” Osama
emphasizes. “It’s not like that. It’s a matter of government. We
can’t support the stance of the U.S. government. We like the
American people. We want peace. We want peace all over the world.”
Sore spots he and his sisters cite: U.S. policies toward
Israel, Iraq, Saudi Arabia.
Students perceive a willingness to let Muslims suffer.
Breaking down barriers
As the smells of lamb, spicy fish and rice waft from the
kitchen, Sana, 16, says the United States revealed its bias when,
in the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing, many people quickly
She and her sisters – Ifra, 13, and Sundus, 11 – take an
active role in family conversations. They don’t wear the
traditional veil. Badar “is pretty relaxed” about that, says Sana,
who wears traditional loose trousers and a flowing top.
The younger girls play cricket, baseball and badminton at
school. They’ve grown up at a time when a woman, Benazir Bhutto,
broke down barriers as Pakistan’s prime minister.
Osama, wearing khaki trousers and a blue T-shirt, talks of
studying at elite universities in Britain or the United States.
He’s inclined toward aeronautical engineering, and also is
passionate about politics, devouring this week’s issue of The
Skeptical on terrorism
A question on this 15-year-old’s mind: “How is terrorism
Without a clear, accepted definition, he says, a U.S.-led
crackdown might focus too much on Muslim groups. “Why not think
about Jews, or other people? They could be terrorists, too.”
The United States is trying to assure current and potential
allies in its anti-terrorism campaign that this is not a war on
Islam. Many here are skeptical and say they want the Bush
administration to show the proof it says it has that bin Laden is
behind the attacks of Sept. 11.
During the public “solidarity” rallies, for which class was
canceled and students were enlisted as marchers, some students
spoke in Urdu as foreign broadcast cameras beamed.
“Osama is a star. We condemn the United States,” they say
half-jokingly, Sana and Osama say.
The United States, those children say, should apply its own
principles. Osama opened a notebook and spoke about the Magna
Carta and U.S. Constitution and due process in the legal system.
Attacking a terrorist suspect in Afghanistan would be “violating
your own Constitution,” he says.
Sana says: “If America presents evidence, we are with you.”
Escaping war, facing despair
Thousands of refugees flood Pakistan to find only hunger, desperation
SHAMSHATU, Pakistan – Montana mountaineer Greg Mortenson
winced at the sight: Refugee boys as young as 4, whose families
just fled Afghanistan, labor here in an open-air brick factory to
“Sometimes no food,” 9-year-old Arnan Gul said, his bare feet
swollen and caked with clay.
The struggle between terrorists and the United States is
claiming victims here, and the situation is worsening by the day.
Fearing a U.S. assault on Afghanistan, men, women and
children crossed the border into Pakistan this week – illegally,
through mountains, because officially the border is closed.
Here, southeast of the city of Peshawar, they grip hoes and
hack out clay to earn enough money to eat.
“This world is just not fair,” said Mortenson, who has been
setting up schools around northern Pakistan in an effort funded
largely by Colorado members of the Golden-based American Alpine
Club. “These aren’t the terrorists. These aren’t bad people.”
The potential for a huge refugee crisis is growing as tens of
thousands of Afghans ignore their own leaders’ reassurances and
try to escape into Pakistan.
Some are stopped. Some make it through.
Bearded men wearing turbans and brown shalwar kameez lead the
way, followed by women in burka gowns that cover their faces, the
Some support Afghanistan’s Taliban government, which rejects
the U.S. demand to give up Osama bin Laden, blamed by President
Bush for the suicide terrorist attacks of Sept. 11.
Mostly they’re just poor, suffering already from a drought,
clinging to their Muslim faith.
Sajjad Ali Shah, a Peshawar arms importer, said Afghan
friends told him some refugees who had brought their families to
Pakistan now were returning to Afghanistan with a desperate
They will wait for U.S. aircraft to attack and then sell
metal from the bombs as scrap.
The situation, already brutal for many, could worsen. U.N.
officials say 1 million refugees could seek shelter in Pakistan if
the United States attacks.
The Taliban’s supreme ruler, Mullah Mohammed Omar, on
Wednesday tried to calm his country, where aid agencies say at
least half of the population of Kabul, the capital, has left.
“America has no reason, justification or evidence for
attacking,” his statement said, as reported by Cox News Service.
“Therefore, all those (Afghans) who have been displaced internally
or externally are instructed to return to their original place of
But refugees keep coming by the thousands.
That adds to tension in border lands where almost everybody
carries weapons and many resent the Pakistan government’s support
of a U.S.-led campaign against terrorism.
Pakistan’s border is closed partly because of security
concerns raised by U.S. officials after the attacks on the World
Trade Center and the Pentagon.
Pakistani officials on Wednesday refused to open up, saying
the country can’t handle more Afghan refugees than the 2 million
already here. But refugees who slip through anyway, such as those
who trekked over mountains south of the Khyber Pass, can stay.
Some, such as the Ullaha family, end up at this roadside
brick factory on a parched plain.
The Ullahas left their barren farm near Jalalabad because
of the “war situation,” said Shooker Ullaha, 40, the father. He
had heard radio reports about attacks on America, he said, and
then about the U.S. threat of military action against Afghanistan.
He hadn’t heard recent assurances from U.S. officials that
“there won’t be any kind of D-Day” and innocents won’t be hurt.
His voice rose in the heat.
“Afghanistan and America friends after Russia war,” he said.
“Please. I appeal to America: no attack.”
For 24 hours he led 10 family members through the mountains,
And Wednesday, their second day in Pakistan, he and his four
sons already were working – 4-year-old Uzammat pushed a scraper to
clear mud from the work area. Naqeeb, Nusherat and Amdad – all
under 8 – helped hack out clay from a berm. Men molding bricks set
them in rows on the ground to dry before hauling the bricks to a
kiln at the base of a smokestack.
They say the Pakistani owner pays them the equivalent of
$1.50 per 1,000 bricks – a day’s work for an adult.
“If the situation clears, I go back,” he said. “I can’t go
back to Afghanistan now because the situation is not clear.”
Mortenson listened silently.
He was thinking of his own two children back in Montana, he
said later, imagining them molding bricks to survive. Nearby in
the sprawling, mud-brick Shamshatu refugee camp, he has set up a
school for children – an open-air classroom with 12 teachers and
space for 420 students.
But nobody studied there Wednesday.
Pakistani police told Mortenson the Shamshatu camp was unsafe.
Traveling back and forth to northern Pakistan over the past
five years, Mortenson, 43, has set up 22 schools for children in
communities that supply porters for U.S. climbers in the Karakoram
“The need is everywhere,” he said. “The only way we can defeat
terrorism is if people in this country where terrorists exist
learn to respect and love Americans, and if we can respect and
love these people here.”
The border is jittery.
There are conflicts between those supporting Pakistan’s
government, which backs Bush’s demand for bin Laden, and Muslims
appalled at potential military action against other Muslims.
“Maybe civil war,” factory owner and trader Mohammad Arif said.
A towering painted portrait of bin Laden clutching machine
guns decorated the back of one truck. Some Pakistanis point out
bin Laden built roads and clinics in Afghanistan.
Tuesday in the Khyber Tribal Area, five men were pulled from
a car and shot in a feud.
Inside a mud-brick compound after the killings, 16 men sat
drinking tea and smoking cigarettes. They joked that they all are
cousins of Osama bin Laden.
Five more shots from a machine gun reverberated just over
the wall. In one way, people on the border, accustomed to
conflict, are not jittery: Nobody flinched.
Black-clad Pakistani police and soldiers patrol along roads
and at edges of Afghan neighborhoods in Peshawar.
Inside a fortified United Nations compound, bureaucrats
coordinate construction of new tent cities and water supplies for
up to 1 million refugees.
“Afghanistan is a human-rights and humanitarian catastrophe.
These are probably the hungriest and poorest people of the world,”
said Yusuf Hassan, spokesman for the U.N. high commissioner for
refugees. “They are trapped.”
U.N. officials want the border opened. U.S. officials say
they haven’t taken a position.
“We’re concerned about the humanitarian crisis,” spokesman
Mark Wentworth said from the U.S. Embassy in Pakistan’s capital,
Islamabad. “We continue to provide assistance to refugees in
Pakistan. We continue to try to provide assistance to vulnerable
Afghans across the border.”
Out on the hot plain, Mortenson watched boys molding bricks
and wondered whether America’s campaign will succeed. Leaving
Afghanistan under threat of military attack for weeks “is causing
innocent people to panic,” he said.
Children languishing in refugee camps could become prey for
terrorist recruiters in the future, he said. “What’s the
difference between them becoming a productive local citizen or a
terrorist? I think the key is an education.”
Pakistanis ready to walk fine line for U.S. effort
Chance for economic growth a strong draw for many
KHYBER TRIBAL AREA, Pakistan – Mohammad Arif can operate.
As his friend Ali Shah Kazmi guides a car among armed Afghan
smugglers openly selling hashish and heroin, carpet factory owner
Arif heads for a towering adobe warehouse crammed with Chinese
televisions trucked in through Afghanistan.
“No tax here,” Arif says with a smile as one of his
Kalashnikov-toting warehouse guards approaches. The laws of
Pakistan don’t reach into this tribal land near the border.
Arif figures he’ll operate even better under the emerging
alliance between his country and the United States. Now, says
Kazmi, a gem dealer who recently displayed emeralds at a Denver
exhibition, America “will give us more importance.”
It’s hard to envision a partnership that holds more promise
or peril than the one with Pakistan, a country filled with
economic ache and open drug markets guarded by machine guns.
The iffy alliance has advanced in recent days.
On Monday, U.S. Ambassador Wendy Chamberlin announced in
Islamabad, the capital, that terms would be eased for $379 million
of the $3 billion Pakistan owes the U.S. government. This followed
President Bush’s weekend lifting of sanctions imposed following
Pakistan’s test detonation of a nuclear bomb in 1998.
More inducements may be coming.
“At this critical time, we expect our already strong trade
relations to prosper,” Chamberlin said.
For a country of 141 million with a literacy rate of not
quite 38 percent, that’s tempting.
“Our ultimate objective is to get economic growth and reduce
poverty,” Pakistan government economist Nawid Ahsan said. Pakistan
“wants to be considered a reliable supplier of goods and services
to the U.S. market.”
Under the Bush administration’s push for international
support in its war on terrorism, Pakistan – until recently a
backer of Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban – has joined in demanding
that the fundamentalist Muslim leaders give up Osama bin Laden,
the man the U.S. holds responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks on the
World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
The quest for support is taking U.S. emissaries to places
such as Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgystan, which many Americans
know only as splotches on a map or as fabled lands of
Central to the U.S. strategy is Pakistan, which shares a
1,400-mile border with Afghanistan, where bin Laden is believed to
Pakistan offers airfields, roads and other facilities more
modern than in most countries in the region. A U.S. negotiating
team, described by Pakistani officials as a trio of military
officers, arrived Monday. U.S. officials simply said the group was
Pakistan also beckons symbolically as a Muslim country that
in the past has helped – and received help from – the Taliban. The
country, like the United States, assisted the victory of bin Laden
and Afghan tribesmen against Soviet occupation in the 1970s and
Today, not everyone here is as interested as Arif and Kazmi,
and the officials in Islamabad, in working with the United States.
On Monday in the Dhoke Najoo mud-brick shanty community near
Rawalpindi, computer science graduate Khurram Shazad, 21, warned
that America’s well-intentioned war on terrorism could degenerate
into “a nightmare for humanity” unless military efforts are precise.
And Americans shouldn’t worry whether they can trust
Pakistan, Shazad said. “Better to ask: How reliable is America as
a partner? Because America abandoned us after the Cold War.”
A teacher in the nearby Dhoke Najoo mosque, who identified
himself only as Gulistan, emphasized that “Islam doesn’t allow
But he added with greater emphasis: “A Muslim government is
not allowed to stand with non-Muslims against Muslims.”
In his Islamabad ice cream parlor, Yummy’s, Malik Sohail
Hussain said that economic and religious issues are prompting
Pakistan to side with the United States.
“The Afghans are eating us up – all our energies are fixed on
them,” Hussain, an official of the Islamabad Chamber of Commerce,
told the Associated Press. Just as in the Persian Gulf War, he
said, nations must now take sides and fight because of extremists
who twist Islam to their own purposes.
“We want to live peacefully like America, like Europe, to be
a loving place,” Hussain said.
On the streets of America’s newfound ally, towering trucks
and buses teeter while traveling at breakneck speed down roadways
clogged with horse-drawn carts and wandering cows. Open-faced
shops blare drumbeats and songs in Urdu, the national language.
All is punctated by round discs of nan bread, tea and Muslim
prayers five times a day.
Giant rocks partially melted in Pakistan’s 1998 underground
nuclear test blast are displayed as monuments in cities.
The clan-driven political system regularly produces bloodshed.
Set up by former colonial power Great Britain as a home
for Muslims in 1947, Pakistan has gained and lost prime ministers
rapidly, with frequent military takeovers – including the one that
installed ruling Gen. Pervez Musharraf in 1999.
Opposition to the U.S.-Pakistan partnership has ignited
street protests, prompting a police crackdown.
Riding through an Afghan neighborhood in Peshawar recently
with his partner Kazmi at the wheel, Arif saw a rock ping off the
windshield. Then another. Something thudded against the rear
fender. A crowd of boys was swarming.
Kazmi stopped. Arif got out and faced down the barefoot boys.
“Are you crazy?” he yelled as some ran away.
They are angry, Arif said, “because of the war with Osama and
U.S. officials insist they aren’t pressuring Pakistan to do
anything it doesn’t want to do. “We do not make demands of our
friends,” Ambassador Chamberlin said at a news conference.
But three hours’ drive away, near Peshawar, Arif and Ali
Kazmi had heard otherwise.
They recently took a drive – clicking in a Ricky Martin
cassette – north through Pushtun country to Charsadda, where they
met with Sangeen Wali Khan. He’s president of the district
People’s National Party and son of the ruling family of the
Pushtun people who live on both sides of the border.
On a veranda looking out at his garden while servants brought
food, Sangeen gave an account of how Pakistan came on board for
the U.S. effort. He said he heard it from his brother, a national
party chief, from whom Musharraf had sought advice on the matter.
Pakistan agreed to help the United States, he said, after
U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell telephoned Musharraf and told
him to choose quickly between Pakistan moving into the 21st
century or returning to the Stone Age.
“We have no choice,” Sangeen said. “This country can’t afford
any more conflicts. … If we don’t have too many innocent people
dying, then I don’t think we’re going to have too much trouble.”
Sangeen retired to the shade of wild roses and bougainvillea,
lit a cigarette and blew smoke.
Arif and Kazmi, with Ricky Martin singing again, headed back
down the road to Peshawar – through sugar cane fields, past
barefoot peasants selling stones, across the muddy Kabul River –
to marble-floored mansions.
Defiance shows difficulty of America’s mission
PESHAWAR, Pakistan – The twisting narrow street reeks of
sewage. A woman hidden beneath a black veil trudges through a
muddy backstreet bazaar in an Afghan neighborhood. An elderly man
wearing a bandolier of bullets across his chest stands with his
And 42-year-old Mohammad Ishaq, tending to bags of rice and
beans in his general store, states the neighborhood position.
“We are ready to fight. We don’t want to fight. But if
somebody attacks Afghanistan, we are ready.”
U.S. military forces are mobilizing.
Fundamentalist forces along the Afghan border seem undaunted.
This past week, thousands rallied in the streets of Peshawar
(pesh-AH-war) warning that a U.S. attack on Afghanistan, where
Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda group are based and have been
welcomed, would amount to terrorism against Muslims.
It remains to be seen how many more across the Islamic world
share their sentiments in the face of a U.S.-led retaliation
“America thinks, “I am the only one in the world, nobody
else, a superpower,'” a mullah told more than 1,000 followers who
closed down a market in Peshawar on Friday.
Henchmen raised sabers around the religious leader as he told
followers how, after the attacks on Washington and New York City
on Sept. 11, “the president … fled his house.”
After the hijackings, the destruction of the World Trade
Center towers and the maiming of the Pentagon, President Bush has
tried to enlist allies around the world to root out international
America’s most wanted suspect right now is bin Laden. The
president has said governments that harbor terrorists will be held
The military ruler of Pakistan, an overwhelmingly Muslim
nation of 141 million, is supporting Bush.
But reaction within Pakistan to Gen. Pervez Musharraf’s
position shows how difficult and potentially divisive the United
States’ declared course may be.
There have been dozens of rallies nationwide, with
fundamentalists burning effigies of Bush and chanting “God is
great!” Musharraf sent soldiers to patrol Peshawar with machine
guns mounted on pickup trucks. In Karachi, two deaths were
reported as riot police suppressed demonstrations.
“We think America is doing wrong,” says Mohammed Qisam, owner
of a cloth shop in a marketplace where other merchants, displaying
vegetables and unrefrigerated meat, squat in the mud. “Osama is
nothing. He doesn’t have the power to attack America.”
Other men gather around him nodding, clamoring with demands
that U.S. officials produce proof of bin Laden’s guilt before
preparing military attacks.
Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban, too, has asked for such proof.
Bush has declared there will be no negotiation on his demand for
the Afghanistan government to surrender bin Laden. Still,
administration officials said they are preparing a report that
will link bin Laden to the New York and Washington attacks and
previous terrorist mayhem.
As U.S. combat forces ready for the war on terrorism that
Bush has declared, Muslims in this part of the world wrestle with
doubts and a starkly different view of history.
Afghan people have moved back and forth for centuries across
the border near Peshawar. United Nations officials estimated that
thousands entered Pakistan last week despite Pakistani efforts to
seal the border.
Surrounded by mountainous desert, Peshawar is a borderland
city where men and women line up, separated by a curtain, to send
messages for about $3 a minute at an Internet service. Just a
three-hour bus ride from Osama bin Laden’s terror training camps
near Jalalabad, it also is a hotbed of dissent to the central
government’s policy. “We don’t want any war,” said Abdul Jalil,
the Taliban government representative, standing outside his
consular office. “The Taliban is not against people who live in
America. Taliban is nice people.”
He wouldn’t discuss bin Laden. But he agreed to explain the
Taliban view of the world.
Followers are aiming at a pure “Islamic life” that rejects
much of modern life, Jalil said.
Modern technology such as cellphones and the Internet are
accepted as a “necessity,” he said. But Western technology also
brings problems. Television images of violence and nudity “are
totally against our religion.”
None of this means that Taliban followers hate Americans,
But U.S. policies often oppress Muslims, he said, and the
Koran calls for a jihad struggle against those who oppress
“We think America must change its policy toward Palestine and
toward Iraq,” he said. “Don’t be cruel to Muslim people.”
Inside his Taliban office, telephones ring from people
wanting to escape Afghanistan. Jalil said he’d just returned to
Pakistan from Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital, where poverty is
intense. The government opened up schools as food centers where
“thousands” of children swarm. Yet everyone is ready to fight, he
“All the people there are thinking, if there is an attack, we
must respond,” he said. “We are ready. We will respond to any
Fundamentalist fighters enjoy folk hero status. A lack of
government investment in education means most children attend only
religious schools that spread ideology. It is a movement the
United States helped create.
In the 1980s, U.S. officials working with Pakistani
intelligence officers armed Afghan “freedom fighters” to oppose
Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. Bin Laden helped finance the
resistance and reportedly participated in some of the fighting.
Training camps were established, many in Pakistan. After the
collapse of the Soviet Union, more freedom fighters trained in the
camps for another regional conflict: the battle between Pakistan
and India for turf in Kashmir.
Meanwhile, fundamentalist Taliban fighters took over most of
Afghanistan and have sheltered bin Laden, whose extremist views
include declaring a holy war to drive U.S. troops from the Arabian
peninsula. In one statement, he called on Muslims to kill
Americans anywhere in the world.
The degree to which that view is widespread will help
determine the fate of the president’s war on terrorism.
Islamic fundamentalists have clashed with – and, U.S.
officials say, have unleashed terror on – more centrist Muslims.
Bin Laden himself fled Saudi Arabia, where he was born and where
his family’s lucrative construction business was based.
Islamic leaders in the United States and elsewhere have
condemned the terrorist attacks. The president and other world
leaders have urged people to distinguish between most of the
Islamic world and what they define as the violent, extremist
fringe. On Saturday, the United Arab Emirates cut diplomatic
relations with Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers for refusing to
surrender bin Laden, the state news agency reported.
That leaves just two countries that recognize the Taliban as
Afghanistan’s government – Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. The Saudis
three years ago downgraded their diplomatic ties with the Taliban,
and Pakistan now has sided with Bush and said the leaders in Kabul
should give up bin Laden.
Yet in Pakistan, a common view, not just among hard-core
fundamentalists but also mainstream businessmen, is that bin Laden
may be wrongly accused.
“Whoever did the attacks, they wanted to make a conflict
between America and Muslim people,” said shoe store manager Zashir
Shah, 21, one of a group of Pakistani businessmen who gathered to
talk things over.
Lead suspect in this conspiracy theory: Israel. The men in
the shoe shop emphasized that they condemned the attacks, which
they watched repeatedly on television like the rest of the world.
But rather than fight terrorism by trying to obliterate
global terrorist networks, the businessmen said, a more effective
strategy for the United States would be to re-evaluate policies
that put Americans at odds with much of the Islamic world.
“Toward Iraq, the policy is not good,” Shah said. “Palestine?
Not good. And the United States has troops in Saudi Arabia. In
America, there is democracy. The people of America must convey to
their leaders that these policies must be changed.”
Experts said bin Laden’s plan is to provoke U.S. aggression
against some Muslims to alienate many Muslims.
The prospect of a U.S. attack and the Pakistan government’s
pledge of support prompted Taliban officials to threaten an attack
on Pakistan. Taliban forces reportedly are massed near the
mountainous desert border. The Pakistani military is on high
alert, with F-16s purchased from the United States whooshing
overhead from Peshawar several times a day.
“If America attacks Afghanistan,” said snuff shop owner
Rehmat Gul, 50, “Peshawar will be in danger.” As for the weapons
that the U.S. gave the Afghans to fight against the Russians, he
said, “now they will use them against us.”
Pakistan’s Musharraf has estimated that 15 percent of
Pakistan’s people oppose his decision to help the United States.
He was trying to win over critics Saturday, meeting with student
protest leaders. But even some who support him hold the view that
the U.S. must rely on more than military action to prevent suicide
The underlying cause of the attacks “is the biased U.S.
policy, tilted against Muslims,” said Javaid Iqbal, manager of the
United Nations office coordinating aid programs for Afghanistan.
His advice to U.S. officials: “Research before you strike.”
And to maintain support among Muslim governments, he said,
Americans should negotiate “on the basis that you value their
ideas, not that you will impose your will and drive them around
like sheep and cattle.”
Pentagon team to visit Pakistan
PESHAWAR, Pakistan – A Pentagon team will arrive in Peshawar
this week for discussions with government officials about specific
support it needs to continue the hunt for Osama bin Laden.
The group, drawn from the Joint Chiefs of Staff and other
Pentagon offices, will meet with Pakistani military counterparts,
a senior Bush administration official said Saturday.
Pakistan has agreed to close its border with Afghanistan and
to permit U.S. military overflights in the event of an American
But the details of what appears to be a pending operation
need to be worked out.
President Pervez Musharraf has backed the U.S. in its drive
against bin Laden despite strong anti-U.S. sentiment in Pakistan.
Denver Post staff writer Bruce Finley and The Associated Press
contributed to this report.
At A Glance: Pakistan:
Country: Islamic Republic of Pakistan
Capital: Islamabad Total area: 310,402.97 square
miles (slightly less than twice the size of California)
Estimated Population (July 2000) 141,553,775
Government: Federal Republic
Climate: Mostly hot, dry desert; temperate in northwest;
arctic in north Terrain: Flat Indus plain in east,
mountains north and northwest; Balochistan plateau west
Religions: Muslim 97 percent (Sunni 77 percent Shi’a 20
percent) Christian, Hindu and other 3 percent.
Literacy: 37.8 percent; 50 percent male; 24.4 percent
Life Expectancy: 60 years for men, 62 years for women
Gross Domestic Product per capita: $2,000 (1999 estimate)
Labor Force: Agriculture 44 percent; industry 17 percent;
Services 39 percent
Sources: MapQuest; World Atlas; U.S. Government