Monday, October 29, 2001

E-Mail to my News Director from Pakistan

Just wanted to give you an e-mail update. I'm flying back to Islamabad tonight, and will phone for the six and eleven o'clock newscasts from there.

It's unlikely that I'll be able to do any feeding from the CBS at the Mariott. I'm not sure I have anything they want. I'm going to try, but it doesn't look logistically possible or promising. I also have failed in getting clearance to see Secretary Rumsfeld and Tommy Franks in Islamabad - security is tight.

The reports tomorrow will be the last before I head back. I arrive in Pittsburgh at 2:00AM November 1st.

I've shot almost ten hours of tape with about twenty interviews and visits to two refugee camps and hospitals where victims of the US bombing are coming into. The interview with the Taliban didn't work out, but I managed to talk with some mujahideen fighters.

There were a couple of incidents (I was stoned by children in one of the refugee camps) and a little stomach flu which I am still suffering from, but all in all I'm no worse for the wear and have tons of stories to tell when I get back.

I'll talk with you more on the phoners, and I hope this e-mail message got through.

Wednesday, October 24, 2001

OTTAWA DAILY TIMES: Pakistanis Distrust U.S. Involvement

It's been a day filled with activity and unexpected surprises here in the capitol of Pakistan, Islamabad.

I arrived on an Emirates Airline flight from Dubai about 2:00AM. The Islamabad International Aiport is under heavy guard. A bomb explosion over the weekend damaged several vehicles and left it's mark on the exterior. No one was injured in the blast, but security at an airport already known for it's lack if security is the top priority.

I'm staying in Rawalpindi, the sister city of Islamabad. Over the last several weeks, Rawalpindi has been the scene of several protests against the campaign in Afghanistan. So far during my visit, there's no sign of protests or any public anti-American sentiment.In fact, here in Islamabad, you wouldn't think there's a war going on less than five hundred miles away. Life goes on as normal, and people, though concerned, seem to take the miliary action in stride. Since it's business as usual here in the Captiol, I'm able to see and talk with the ordinary Pakistani about a great deal of issues ranging from refugees to food.

The general feeling among Pakistanis is resentment towards America for supporting Israel in thier subjugation of the Palestinians. It comes up in almost every conversation about the current situation in Afghanistan. There's little to connect the two states, other than religion. Both are Muslim nations, and it's the feeling in the world of Islam that, with U.S. backing, Israel is able to undermine the Palestinians. And they fear there might be no end to the trend.

They also feel that the Afghan people are the victims in America's war on terrorism. It should be pointed out that no Afghan as been charged with an act of terrorism related to the September 11th attack. It's unlikely any were involved at all. But Arab-Afghans, most notably Osama Bin Laden, use Afghanistan as a hiding place, and so that is where the quagmire begins in this part of the world.

The Pakitanis have seen this sort of involvement by the Americans before. The U.S. supported the Mujahedeen (freedom fighters) during the Soviet occupation in the 1980s. So did Pakistan, and with U.S. backing, Pakistan armed the Muhajedeen. When the Soviets left in 1989, the U.S. left Pakistan, and there's been civil war in Afghanistan ever since.

The U.S. is lifting economic sanctions against Pakistan to help the war on terrorism, and aid is slowly returning. But the Pakistanis fear that this is only a temporary arrangement with America, and as soon as the objectives in Afghanistan are met, the U.S. will once again abandon Pakistan in the wake of war on it's borders.As an American here, I don't feel that there's any security issue. Pakistan is getting a bad rap in the press, mostly because of the protests. But these protests that you see on television only represent a minority in Pakistan. Most don't like the war, but few protest against it. Those that do get air time on the news networks because an American flag burning makes for good television.

Not every Pakistani is a Muslim extremist. There's a tendency to stereotype in the wake of the attacks, and many Pakistanis can't understand the backlash to Arabs in America. It's also hard for me to explain it to them.

War creates these unfortunate byproducts that can't be rationalized. Another byroduct is the wave of human misery waiting for freedom at the Afghanistan border. Millions of refugees are trapped as Pakistans border officialy remains closed to them. There's simply no support to deal with them.And that's where I'm headed tomorrow - to Peshawar, Pakistans last outpost on the frontier with Afghanistan. For every refugee, there's a story to tell, and a face to show on television. I only have so much videotape.

The refugee camps that are set up in Pakistan are the staging ground for resistance to the Taliban. One organization recieving a lot of media attention is RAWA (Revolutionary Association for the Women of Afghanistan). To they Taliban, they're public enemy number one. RAWA works inside Afghanistan and in the refugee camps to empower and educate women. Under Taliban rule, women are brutally beaten and isolated from the rest of society. I arranged to meet with RAWA's spokesperson in secret last night here in Islamabad. She wished to remain anonymous, and hidden from the camera in our interview. Her parents still live in Kabul, and if the Taliban ever discovered this, her family would suffer. Her message is simple - let the women of Afghanitan go.

She is one voice and face in a sea of opposition to the ruling Taliban.

The regime's days are numbered, according to President Bush. RAWA certainly hopes so, as does Pakistan. Peace on it's border means less attention from the U.S..

It also means freedom from fear. It's a fear from war that has plagued an entire generation of Afghans.

Friday, October 19, 2001

OTTAWA DAILY TIMES: Native to Report on Afghanistan Action

KANE FARABAUGH — an 1995 Ottawa Township High School graduate and a reporter for CBS News and WOWK-TV in West Virginia — left this weekend for Pakistan, where he will report on the Afghanistan refugee issue and on the war against terrorism. He covered the crash of United Airlines Flight 93 in a Pennsylvania field on Sept. 11, and left this weekend for Pakistan, where he will report on the Afghanistan refugee issue and on the war against terrorism. He offers a report below, and future articles will appear periodically in The Daily Times. On Sept. 11, Farabaugh covered the crash of United Airlines Flight 93 in a Pennsylvania field. From Pakistan, Farabaugh will teleconference with Matt Smith’s geography students on Friday, discussing his experiences and accepting questions from the OTHS students.

CHARLESTON, WV - Back in the winter of 1998 - 1999, I worked for the Jesuit Refugee Service Asia Pacific as an Information Officer. It was my responsibility to write about the strife and suffering of the Burmese refugees along the Thailand - Myanmar border in Southeast Asia. Working for JRS, I heard of the situation in Afghanistan.

Thousands, perhaps millions of refugees were streaming across the border into neighboring Pakistan, all fleeing in fear first from the Soviets, then the Taliban. I never had the chance to go and examine the situation with JRS. The time wasn't right.

But now America's at war and I'm a television news reporter. For the past several weeks I've been monitoring the situation in South Asia. I've been trying to understand why there's very little information about the Afghan refugees filtering through the media. All the attention now seems to fall on the concerns here at home, like Anthrax.

But the situation is desperate. For years, the Pakistani government has silently tolerated the influx of Afghan refugees. Now that influx is reaching critical mass, and there's no support structure to handle the wave of human misery now fleeing the rain of U.S. airstrikes and Taliban control.

I'm travelling to the region to get to the bottom of the crisis, and I'm getting there with the help of several local contacts here in West Virginia.

Mrs. Parween Qazi is a math teacher at Riverside High School near Charleston. She's from Peshawar, a town in Pakistan just miles from the border with Afghanistan. She's introduced me to one of my hosts, Dr. Adil Zareef. He's a human rights activist critical of the Taliban, and he's agreed to be my guide through the area. With his help, it's my goal to visit the refugee camps to understand thier suffering.

Before I can get there, I have to get ready. My station, WOWK, is financing my adventure in South Asia. It was a long shot to convince them to send me. Tenacity paid off, and not only does my news director Dennis Fisher back me up on the trip, my General Manager Sandy Benton is estatic we have the chance, but concerned about the risks. Because of her, the station's floodgates were opened to make sure we were equipped with a satellite phone, portable digital camera, and a visa to get in the country.

Which takes me to Washington D.C., and in a stange way, one of the places that ultimately started this trip. There's the Pentagon, a structure with a wound inflicted by terrorism, the springboard to a war far away that I'm now going to witness firsthand. There's also the Pakistani Embassy, and that's where I had to get my visa.

Visa in hand, camera at my side, and notebook in pocket, the trip is about to begin. I'm setting off for a place the some journalists are refusing to venture. Americans are warned to avoid travelling to the country, and protests flare up almost daily in different cities throughout Pakistan. I'm not scared, and I'm not really nervous. I'm excited to go, blessed to have the oppurtunity, and thrilled at the chance to cover an important story largely forgotten by the national media.

Pakistan and Afghanistan inspired author Rudyard Kipling to write "The Man Who Would Be King." In the novel, Peachy Carnahan, a thrill seeker on his way to Afghanistan, runs into a reporter for the Northern Star on a train in India. He thinks twice about robbing the man (Kipling) when he finds out the reporters a freemason. Instead, he says the magic words. "I'm coming from the East and heading to the West to find 'That which was lost'." I wonder if he ever found what he was looking for.

Wednesday, October 17, 2001

Pakistan... as Rudyard Kipling


Just wanted to give you all a heads up. I've been out of the "loop" considerably the last several weeks.

World events dictacte our complete involvement and time at work, which makes communication few and far between.

For the last several weeks, I've been preparing for a trip to Pakistan. I leave on Monday to spend ten days on the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan to document the cuurent refugee situation and produce a news series detailing my travels. I've run across incredible luck finding a support system in Peshawar, Pakistan, and my station has agreed to finance my trip there.So that means for the next several weeks, I'll be near the war zone, and probably short on communication.

For those of you in Ottawa, Illinois, I am trying to work out a daily report with the newspaper, if I can find access to e-mail. I'm also trying to work out a teleconference with Ottawa High School students live via satellite phone when I'm in the country.

I'll have a full digest of my trip upon my return.

Until then.. Peace.