Want to know how it feels to be a young journalist passionate about covering one of the exotic countries of the era — like Pakistan — and then be deported?
Deportation is scary, as is brushing up against the very real thuggishness of military and intelligence services in Pakistan.
But this is Nicholas Schmidle‘s story — which he tells in a piece coming out tomorrow in the Outlook pages of the Washington Post, “Pakistan Kicked Me Out.”
Schmidle’s treatment reads like a segment of a Pakistan remake of The Year of Living Dangerously.
Nicholas Schmidle, a blonde-haired adventurer journalist and son of a well respected Marine general, grabbed his young wife and said lets have a honeymoon that won’t stop living together in Pakistan and reporting from there. . .and off they went, until he became the first American journalist deported from Pakistan in years.
Schmidle had just published this piece in the New York Times Magazine titled “Next Gen Taliban,” as well as some dispatches for Slate.com.
Schmidle contacted me from Pakistan when he was being forcefully pushed out of the country, despite General Musharraf’s assurances only days earlier that the foreign media were free to report anything in the country and to travel anywhere and everywhere.
Schmidle spoke at the New America Foundation (video above) along with Peter Bergen, Steve Coll, Flynt Leverett, and myself and then did a bloggingheads discussion — or diavlog — with me that is worth watching, even though it’s been a few weeks since we did it.
I also have copies of the deportation order given to Schmidle and his wife (here is the pdf) — though the Pakistan government now states it did not issue such an order. It’s so interesting how many government officials have read 1984 and now deploy “The Big Lie.”
I believe that Pakistan is a tinderbox and one of the most dangerous nations in the world today.
And as briefly discussed in the New America Foundation meeting above, I believe that the US is training special forces units to send in to the Tribal Areas of Pakistan on covert missions to target al Qaeda, Taliban, and other Islamist militant leaders — and that the chances of George Bush sending in those forces are running about 50-50 right now, which in the odds business on war is high.
Schmidle’s story is intriguing and gives a peek into what it takes to penetrate some of the environments we fear so much in the world.
One last comment about Schmidle’s piece. The journalist vaguely referred to as having been harassed by Pakistan’s military authorities and threatened with being “the next Daniel Pearl” was another New America Foundation/American Strategy Program colleague of mine, Nir Rosen, whose writing on the Middle East is among the most important in the field right now.
— Steve Clemons