France 24's Franck Berruyer and Laure de Matos travelled for ten days between Peshwar and Islamabad covering the restive North West Frontier Province.
'Reporters' is the weekly venue for in-depth reporting from
Saturday, Sept. 15 - Franck
We met a few journalists this evening in
Sunday, Sept. 16 - Laure
I had never heard of Maulana Hassan Jan. On reaching
This morning most of the shop-owners in Sadder Bazaar lowered the metal entrance shutters. Thousand of men with long beards have taken to the streets to pay a last tribute to the fallen religious leader. The men are traditionally dressed in white salwar kameez.
There was no place for me in this pious procession. I was dressed and veiled like any other Pakistani but I was a woman, a foreigner.
Our fixer asked me to stay in the car….far away from this crowd, remain out of sight. I was frustrated but accepted to follow his orders because I know in
I worked in
This Sunday, Pakistani women who admired the fallen Maulana were not allowed to pay homage at the Qayyum stadium. When I see the images filmed by Franck, I realize my presence could have further enraged this crowd of angry men.
Monday, Sept. 17 - Franck
Back on the adventure trail, we hit north. It was a pity to see the plight of the silk route. Impoverished workers are rebuilding roads manually on this busy highway. Battered trucks speed by ruining the recently repaired road.
The route led to Chitral. According to the local rumor, Al-Qaeda’s leader Osama Bin-Laden was last seen in this district. We headed in the direction of Swat. A few months ago this valley was a tourist attraction for the Pakistani elite. The huge villas hidden behind high walls are a clear sign.
For me the region is like
Shops selling CD’s and DVDs have been attacked at the city centre. Hairdressers have stopped cutting beards after being threatened. Schools for girls have been closed down. Other schools are under military protection. The threat is on the other side of the river- we are told.
Armed militants reign the region and enforce the law imposed by the region’s cleric. Our fixer insisted we remain discreet and not expose ourselves too. We were the only clients in a deserted hotel. A police chief in one of the villages was shot down. Each day there is a new incident. But the population we meet does not want to give in.
The Akkoura Khattak madrassa is one of the most famous Qu’ranic schools of
The madrassa is closed during the period of Ramadan.
But further down, dozens of young students sitting in a corridor were reciting verses from the Qur’an as they hand-picked raisins. This was the chore of the day.
Many avoid the camera, covered their faces. We met. During the visit to the school, Laure had to once again stay back in the car. But we met the Maulana at his residence Our host offered us tea and delicacies. Sitting behind a curtain, women engaged in conversation with Laure, in broken English.
Monday, Sept. 24 - Laure
Another day in
We went to the Supreme Court.
This morning TV news networks were reporting that an area had been sealed-off. But we passed without any problems. Policemen were seen standing in the shade of the trees. A few protestors were arrested this morning but everything seemed calm.
Many journalists were waiting for development…but nothing happened. The only event of the day – Black paint was thrown on Mushrraf’s lawyer. Around 1 pm, journalists kick started their scooters and headed back. They’ll be back tomorrow.
Date created : 2007-10-06