Conspiracy Theories Permeate Pakistan

The views on the Pakistani streets are very different from those being expressed through diplomatic channels. That from Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep, who talks with guest host Rachel Martin from a market area in Lahore, Pakistan.

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We turn now to NPR's Steve Inskeep. He is in Lahore, Pakistan, where he'll be hosting MORNING EDITION next week.

Hey, Steve.

STEVE INSKEEP: Hi there, Rachel.

MARTIN: Steve, we just heard Congressman Rogers say that the U.S. is hoping to, quote, shame Pakistan into a more open and transparent relationship. You've been in Pakistan now for a few days. Based on what you're hearing from the public over there, is that likely to work?

INSKEEP: Well, not at first blush. The first reaction from Pakistanis is actually to take offense. People will remind any American who comes within earshot that actually Pakistanis have suffered in the war on terror, that thousands of people have been killed. That's the first response.

I'm actually standing tonight, Rachel, in a market area, a little bazaar street that was bombed at the end of 2009. Many people have personal experiences like that. So that's the first thing you hear.

But with that said, there is a quiet acknowledgement that there is a serious, serious problem, and perhaps even within the military and intelligence services, there is concern about their own ranks, not just because of the bin Laden episode, but because of another episode in recent days in which a naval base was attacked and people are raising questions about whether there was some kind of inside help there.

And so people really are asking questions about the national security establishment in Pakistan and whether everyone is on the same side.

MARTIN: Have you heard whether or not there have been calls for those top military and intelligence officers to step down in the wake of all this?

INSKEEP: There has been nothing. Now, we do know that in the past, when people have gotten in trouble, they're quietly disposed of or moved out of their jobs or put on trial and we don't really hear much. There has been no suggestion of that.

As you know, the head of the intelligence service offered twice to resign, we're told. And his resignation was twice refused.

MARTIN: Steve, I know you're working on a series of stories for MORNING EDITION next week. What can we listen for?

INSKEEP: I think that at this moment, Americans are completely perplexed by this country. They're wondering what are they thinking over there and I thought I'd come over and ask.

And we're listening to some of the most interesting Pakistani thinkers as well as people on the street to try to get that point of view. Whether you dislike or like this country, it's important to understand what people are thinking over here, and we're going to hear that in a number of different ways in the coming days.

MARTIN: That's NPR's Steve Inskeep, speaking to us from Lahore, Pakistan.

Thanks so much, Steve.

INSKEEP: You're welcome, Rachel.


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