Clinton Identifies "Mortal Threat" In Pakistan Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Wednesday that Pakistan "poses a mortal threat to the security and safety of our country and the world." As the Taliban closes in on Pakistan's nuclear-armed capital, should the rest of the world worry?
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Clinton Identifies "Mortal Threat" In Pakistan

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Clinton Identifies "Mortal Threat" In Pakistan

Clinton Identifies "Mortal Threat" In Pakistan

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This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. The Taliban continues to expand in Pakistan, and insurgent forces now control an area only a couple of hours drive from the capital, Islamabad.

This news comes shortly after Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari made a peace deal that allowed the Pakistan to administer Islamic law in the Swat Valley, concession that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton yesterday described as alarming.

Secretary HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (Department of State): I think that the Pakistani government is basically abdicating to the Taliban and to the extremists, but look at why this is happening. If you talk to people in Pakistan, especially in the ungoverned territories, which are increasing in number, they don't believe the state has a judiciary system that works.

CONAN: As government control ebbs, Pakistani civilians are joining or cooperating with the Taliban for practical, as well as ideological or religious, reasons. And Pakistani diplomats find themselves explaining that the government, and Pakistan's nuclear weapons, are not about to fall into the hands of Islamic extremists.

If you have a personal or professional connection to Pakistan, how does the impression of a country on the brink fit with your experience? Our phone number, 800-989-8255. E-mail is You can also join the conversation on our Web site. That's at Just click on TALK OF THE NATION.

Later in the program, Bill Bishop joins us to talk about reported reductions in the mobility of American society, why we're moving less and what it means.

But first, Pakistan, and we begin here in Studio 3A with NPR's national security correspondent, Jackie Northam, and always nice to have you on the program.


CONAN: Blunt language yesterday from Secretary Clinton: abdication, mortal peril. Just how seriously does the administration take the situation in Pakistan?

NORTHAM: Oh, it's enormously serious to this administration, and you saw that actually even with President Obama was campaigning. He said look, if the U.S. felt that they had actionable intelligence, they would go in there.

The problem right now is I think everything is just spinning so quickly out of control, and this is from reports that we're getting because you can't really get into a lot of these areas. But they're just moving along so fast.

CONAN: The Taliban.

NORTHAM: The Taliban, the cancer is sort of spreading. We're also - you know, the intelligence agencies here are getting, you know, many indications that the Taliban and al-Qaida are growing in strength and numbers, planning huge sweeps across the border into Afghanistan.

It's so big, and it's moving so fast now, that it's hard to say what the U.S. can do at this point to try to somehow curb it or harness what's happening there.

CONAN: Does the administration believe the government there is in peril?

NORTHAM: Oh yes, I think that's very true. I think, you know, there's been a long time that they felt that President Zardari was - his government was just sort of wobbling around and in fact that the U.S. officials have been trying to prop up his government.

You saw this about a month ago when Nawaz Sharif tried to move into - you know, move from Lahore into Islamabad. There was, you know, millions of people on the streets in that. It took huge intervention by the main, key players in the U.S. administration to try to stop that, talk to Zardari to get it to stop, to try to stabilize his government. And I think we're going to see more of this as it goes along.

CONAN: Well joining us now from his home in Lahore, Pakistan, is Ahmed Rashid, the author of "Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia." And Ahmed Rashid, nice to have you back on the program.

Mr. AHMED RASHID (Author, "Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia"): Thank you.

CONAN: Let us ask you about the situation as you see it there from Lahore, the impression that we get, at least in Washington, D.C., of a country on the brink. Is that overstated?

Mr. RASHID: No, I don't think so. I think people here are very scared. They are deeply, deeply worried. Everybody's talking about nothing else except the spread of the Taliban. And there are signs that they're not only in the North-West Frontier Province, but they're been moving into Punjab. People have been getting threats. There have been attacks and bomb blasts here in Punjab.

And I was in Karachi recently, the southern port city with a population of 17 million, one of the largest cities in the world. That city, too, is very much a tinderbox right now, and there are Taliban active there, too.

So it's not just a movement that has confined to the northwest.

CONAN: The recent deal that President Zardari made with the Taliban, giving them authority essentially to rule in the Swat Valley, does a concession like that buy the government more time, or does it make it look weak?

Mr. RASHID: Well no, I mean as critics pointed out even then, saying that such a concession would only allow the Taliban to consolidate and spread, and that's exactly what they've done.

They've used that concession to literally take over the entire administration in Swat, and now they have expanded beyond Swat, both south and west into adjoining valleys, and that is really creating enormous fear.

Nobody expected them to start sweeping out of Swat so quickly. But now, apparently in Swat, their numbers have gone up from about 3,000 to about 8,000 or 10,000. They've moved several hundred fighters into adjoining valleys. They're taking over these valleys.

The administration, the local officials and judges are fleeing from there, and so far, once again, the army has not moved.

CONAN: That was just what I was about to ask you. What is the situation within the Pakistani military, which has been the strongest national institution there since the country's foundation and has, several times in the past, when it thought things were spinning out of control, taken control of the government.

Mr. RASHID: Well, I mean, what people - I mean, nobody is asking for them to take power or anything like that, but certainly there are enormous questions being raised in the media every day and by ordinary people as to why the army is not combating these Taliban or stopping the spread of the Taliban.

And given now that there are so many fronts being opened, right across northern Pakistan, we might well soon reach a stage where it might be almost impossible for the army to deploy.

Anyway, the real issue is that the army is not deploying. It is not combating the Taliban, and I think that's probably what led to Hillary Clinton's statement.

CONAN: And let me ask you Jackie Northam. In the past, the United States military and the Pakistani military have had very close relationships. What are you hearing?

NORTHAM: I'm hearing completely the opposite right now, as a matter of fact. There's a very good relationship between the army, Pakistani army chief of staff, General Ashfaq Kayani, and Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff here, very close relationship that Admiral Mullen has been nurturing all the way along.

The military-to-military relationship, I'm hearing, and this is from very high levels within the State Department, is that they're at an all-time low essentially because, you know, there was a different game plan when President Bush was in power, and you had General Musharraf in power.

Now it's a different - first of all, you didn't have the extent of this insurgency in Pakistan, and also it was a much more - well, they said they're going to do something. Let's just see if they do it. And that doesn't wash anymore with President Obama right now.

I suspect now that Admiral Mullen is back in Pakistan as we speak right now, he was just there a couple weeks ago, I think he might be starting to put the push on look, you know, the paramilitary force can't do it. Your police certainly can't sort this problem out. I think you have - that's speculation on my part, but something has to be done to stop it.

CONAN: Let's get a caller on the line, 800-989-8255, if you'd like to join us. E-mail is Cynthia's(ph) on the line with us from Vernon in New York.

CYNTHIA (Caller): Hi. My question for Mr. Rashid: In your opinion, Mr. Rashid, is there more action against the United States now by Pakistani and Afghani insurgents because of the use of our drone pilotless planes there that have been killing so many civilians that I know that when civilians start to get killed, the people who live there, they want to respond to this.

CONAN: Let me just explain for listeners unfamiliar. U.S. drones have been attacking what they describe as insurgents, Taliban and al-Qaida targets near the Afghan border, about once or twice a week, we seem to get the reports, and as Cynthia says, sometimes yes, indeed, those do seem to hit civilian targets. Ahmed Rashid?

Mr. RASHID: Well, the drones have been used now for several months, and they have certainly killed some senior members of al-Qaida and the Taliban. They have provoked a reaction in the tribal areas, and certainly one of the rallying calls of the Taliban in Pakistan has been to stop the use of the drones. And they have carried out several revenge attacks against the Pakistan army and against civilians in Pakistan, saying that these revenge attacks are because the army is allowing the Americans to use drones.

But the situation now has become so critical that I think the mood in many parts of Pakistan is changing toward the drones. Basically, people are saying well, if the army is not killing the bad guys, and the Americans are, then perhaps the Americans should just continue killing the bad guys.

So I think the, you know, the attitude against the drones is changing, but that is not necessarily changing the very strong anti-Americanism that continues to exist in large sections of society.

CONAN: Jackie?

NORTHAM: Well, one of the other things, too, about the drones is up until now, they've all been used within the tribal regions, and this is sort of the ungoverned, autonomous regions of Pakistan. And there is an argument being made now that they're being so effective that they're driving the insurgents, al-Qaida, Taliban, whatever, out of that region and into the more built-up areas like Swat.

So that's an argument being made that perhaps they're so effective that they're actually creating a problem further in Pakistan.

CONAN: Let's see if we can get another caller in. This is Ali(ph), Ali with us from Chicago.

ALI (Caller): Yes, hi. I have a different take on things. I believe that the language that the secretary of state, Clinton, used is exaggerated. I am concerned about some of the Sunni extremists that, they've killed some Shias in Pakistan, and I believe the government should do more to control this type of sectarian violence.

But you're not going to have the scruffy - the North-West Frontier is probably four million population, and Pakistan is like 160 million population. You're not going to have hundreds of scruffy hillbillies take over 600,000, you know, strong Pakistan army. And I want to say…

CONAN: Very quickly, if you would.

ALI: I'm sorry?

CONAN: Very quickly, if you would. We're running out of time.

ALI: Yes. I want to say that I think it's not bad that there's Islamic law there. It was - Pakistan was founded as a Islamic republic. I don't agree with some of the conservative interpretation of, you know, of some of the people in North-West Frontier, but it's a good thing. And secondly…

CONAN: I'm afraid we're going to have to cut it off there, Ali. We wanted to get a quick response from Ahmed Rashid because we have to let him go, too.

Mr. RASHID: Well, the population of the Frontier province is many millions of people. It's certainly not four million. It's about 13 million. And as I said, I mean, the Taliban have linked up with extremist groups in Punjab and in Sindh - right across the country, not just the Pashtuns who belongs to the frontier.

And the other thing is that, you know, the Taliban interpretation of Islamic law is not Islamic law. It's the Taliban's particular interpretation, which is aimed very much at women. It's aimed at minorities. It's aimed at education, at development, at anything remotely concerning modern life, and…

CONAN: Ahmed Rashid, I'm afraid we're going to have to let you go, as well. Thank you for staying up late to speak with us, but we're going to hear more exactly on that subject when we come back. Stay with us. This is NPR News.

(Soundbite of music)

CONAN: This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. Pakistan is on the front pages, along with unusually bleak expressions about its future.

Yesterday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned that the government there faces an existential threat from Islamic militants who, she said, presented a mortal peril to the United States.

Meanwhile, the Taliban has taken over the district of Buner, just a few hours' drive from the capital of Islamabad. We're talking with NPR's Jackie Northam about the fragile situation there. She's our national security correspondent.

As always, we want to hear from you. If you have a personal or professional connection with Pakistan, how does the impression of a country on the brink fit with your experience? 800-989-8255. E-mail us, You can also join the conversation on our Web site. That's at Click on TALK OF THE NATION.

And joining us now here in studio 3A is Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy. She's a correspondent for Frontline/World on PBS. Her latest documentary is "Pakistan: Children of the Taliban." Nice to have you with us on the program today.

Ms. SHARMEEN OBAID-CHINOY (Correspondent, Frontline/Word): Good to be here.

CONAN: And you spent a lot of time in the parts of the country that we're talking about. Tell us what it's like for civilians there in areas controlled by the Taliban?

Ms. OBAID-CHINOY: The civilians are helpless. There is no government. There is no police. Even if they want to stand up against the Taliban, who is going to back them? And in effect, the Taliban are recruiting now, going from home to home, knocking on the door and saying give us your 14-year-old, give us your 15-year-old. They should be fighting in the army of Islam.

And many of the residents I spoke to in Swat, in Bajaur, all these areas, said well, we have no option but to give up our children to the Taliban. We have no option but to subscribe to the Taliban ideology because the state of Pakistan has failed us.

CONAN: And that description that we heard of the Taliban ideology just a moment ago from Ahmed Rashid, would you describe that as accurate?

Ms. OBAID-CHINOY: Yes, absolutely. The Taliban have a very violent ideology. Many of the Taliban fighters absolutely know nothing about the religion, know nothing about the Koran. They've studied the Koran in Arabic, a language they do not understand. They have not been taught the tenants of the religion. They believe in killing, jihad and fighting against an infidel army as their main goal, which is very unrepresentative of the religion.

CONAN: Yet, why are they being so - why are they commanding more and more area? Why are they commanding more and more people?

Ms. OBAID-CHINOY: This is what the Taliban do. This is what I saw in Swat. They move into an area. They start their radio broadcast. The army sits in their bunkers. They rarely ever patrol. They rarely ever provide security.

The police leave, and there's a sense of guilt. They ban women from going out. They behead people. They shoot a few women. They, you know, tie up people and give them really barbaric justice. They whip people, and they create this sense of fear amongst the population, and many people feel like they have no choice but to join the Taliban, and this is what we saw in Buner two days ago, as well.

There was no police. The army didn't move in. They came in, they destroyed the entire area, and very soon afterwards - now, today, two days later - the army's moved in. Well, Buner is gone now. It's already been taken up by the Taliban.

It's as if the Pakistani government and the army wake up to the Taliban long after they've already established their control.

CONAN: What is going on with the army? Understandably reluctant to battle Pakistani civilians, whomever they may be, but nevertheless losing control of the country?

Ms. OBAID-CHINOY: I think for a long time, the Pakistani army has been an India-centric army, an army that's been taught to fight other men in uniform.

The Taliban consider themselves the army of Islam. At one point, the Pakistani army considered itself the army of Islam. So now they're fighting an entire ideology, not only other soldiers. And the soldiers on the ground, the ones I spoke to, said we don't know why we're fighting this war.

CONAN: And tell us. We tend to think of these areas - we're very, very far away, few of us have been there - as a monolithic area, yet there are very different kinds of peoples there with different kinds of cultures and even different languages.

Ms. OBAID-CHINOY: Swat is part of mainland Pakistan. It was a tourist destination. It had a functioning society. Women worked as doctors and lawyers. There were girls' schools over there. It was really an idyllic paradise in some ways.

It was a functioning society. It was under the law and the control of the Pakistan government, and the people there were conservative, but they were not militant and not fundamentalist, and women had rights over there.

And so what has happened to the Swati people is actually quite tragic because they have been forced to live under Taliban rule and adopt an ideology and a way of life that is very unfamiliar to them.

CONAN: And yet there are other areas that we were talking about with Ahmed Rashid, the Sindh, further south. There's also Balujistan.

Ms. OBAID-CHINOY: Yes. I mean, Sindh is - my home city of Karachi is where the Taliban are heavily recruiting from - the small, unregulated madrasas that are spread across the city that take in very poor boys. And they feed them, they clothe them, and they teach them really to hate the West and to - they espouse such hatred that at some point when they graduate, they all want to join the Taliban.

In fact, in my latest film, I meet a 13-year-old who was recruited by the Taliban who was given all sorts of training on how to fire handguns, to make a suicide jacket, and he now wants to become a suicide bomber. This is what these children are aspiring to do. The war in Pakistan is not only killing children, it's turning children into killers.

CONAN: And we are hearing more and more reports of suicide attacks in Pakistan.

Ms. OBAID-CHINOY: By some estimates, the last 15 suicide bombings that have taken place in Pakistan have been done by boys under the age of 18.

CONAN: Let's get another caller on the line, 800-989-8255. E-mail us, Sahar(ph) is on with us from Fort Lauderdale.

SAHAR (Caller): Yeah, hi. I just wanted to comment on the reports that are coming out of Pakistan. I'm a Pakistani myself, and I've been living here in the U.S. for the past 10 years, and it's just very unsettling, the news that we're getting from there.

I recently found out that the Taliban was responsible for burning a church in Karachi, which is appalling because I have so many Christian friends are from Pakistan.

So it's like very unsettling, and I don't know what kind of Sharia law, what kind of Islamic law they're following but certainly very un-Islamic. I just - I can't really express my - like I'm very appalled right now.

CONAN: We've heard a lot of stories about the inter-sectional violence between Sunnis and Shias. That has been going on for many years in places like Karachi. Burning churches, is that something that is happening, as well?

Ms. OBAID-CHINOY: Burning churches, targeting Christians, targeting other minorities, anything that is seen as secular, anything that is seen as Western is fair target now.

CONAN: I was just going to say Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy was able to travel to a lot of places for this film inside Pakistan. Jackie Northam, you've traveled there for NPR. How easy is it to travel around the country?

NORTHAM: The last time I was there, actually, I was warned by everybody: Do not go into Peshawar. And that was in December. It was just after the Mumbai…

CONAN: That's in the North-West territories.

NORTHAM: Pardon me, yeah, and it's actually by the Khyber Pass, right by…

CONAN: The main road into Afghanistan.

NORTHAM: Thank God you're here. Thank you.

(Soundbite of laughter)

NORTHAM: But even at that point, they just said just simply do not go in because the Taliban have just come so far into the city right now, and they're watching out for this sort of thing.

I've never been allowed - you know, as journalists, we're not allowed to go into any of the other areas. We can go into the three main cities. So you know, you're stuck. You send somebody in, or you sneak in yourself, and that's about it. It's very hard to get good reporting for the Western media in Pakistan right now.

CONAN: Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, how were you able to get in?

Ms. OBAID-CHINOY: I'm a native of Pakistan. I speak the language, and I think now more than ever, it is very important to bring the stories of the people who are suffering from within Pakistan.

I think it's a very easy tendency for a lot of people to feel that oh, the tribal belt was always lawless. It was always a place where women were in the four walls of the home. The men always carried weapons.

But to look at the destruction and what has happened to communities. You know, the Pakistani army in the town of Luisam(ph), a town of 7,000 people, has entirely demolished that town to the ground, and now they're saying well, there are no militants there.

Of course there are no militants there. There are no civilians there, either, and this policy that has been going on - you know, it's difficult for journalists to get in, as you pointed out, but I think the onus is on people who live in the country to bring out the stories.

CONAN: Sahar, thank you very much for the call, appreciate it.

SAHAR: Thank you.

CONAN: Let's see if we can go next to, this is Sahad(ph), Sahad with us from Salt Lake City.

SAHAD: Yeah, hello. Hello?

CONAN: Yes, you're on the air. Go ahead.

SAHAD: Okay. I just want to say that I just watched Ms. Obaid's documentary on Frontline yesterday. It is an amazing documentary, obviously very unsettling and very scary, as well. My question to the panelists is that given the fact that Pakistan has such rabid, anti-Americanism among its public, would it not be appropriate for the U.S. to take a backseat for now and let the progressive people in Pakistan come forward and forge a broad-based alliance, a public alliance, to wage this war against the fundamentalist and extremist forces because at the end of the day, no war can be won or fought without public support.

So unless the public opinion slants heavily, heavily in favor of fighting the religious extremists, not much can be done. So my question is given the fact that there is such rabid anti-Americanism among the Pakistani public, would it not be appropriate to take a backseat and let progressive people move forward and form a broad-based alliance to fight this war?

CONAN: Just to say that the government of President Zardari is seen as an ally of the United States, gets support, financial support, from the United States, gets military support from the United States. It's seen by allowing the drone attacks in the areas close to the border with Afghanistan as bowing in that respect to the United States, bowing on the issue of Pakistani sovereignty, but Sharmeen?

Ms. OBAID-CHINOY: In an ideal world perhaps the people of Pakistan will rise up and say get rid of the Taliban. The problem is that a few weeks ago, videos emerged of the 17 year old girl being flogged in Swat. And we expected, the civil society, expected that thousands of people would take to the streets. Fifty people took to the streets in one city, 200 in another city, 400 in another city.

CONAN: To protest the Taliban.

Ms. OBAID-CHINOY: Yes. To protest, exactly so it seems that the people -the ones I've spoken to - have said who are we protesting to? A weak government that doesn't have a coherent policy on how to deal with the Taliban, has never had a policy. The army that takes two steps forward and 10 steps backward. Who are we going to protest to if we take to the streets?

CONAN: Jackie.

Ms. NORTHAM: Well the other problem too is that what's happening in Pakistan isn't happening in a vacuum either. Obviously you've got Afghanistan next door and a lot of the attacks on NATO and U.S. troops there are coming from Pakistan itself. And we can't forget that this is a nuclear armed nation and for that reason alone the U.S. has, you know, made it a priority to sort this thing out if they can.

CONAN: All right, here is an email question exactly on that point. By the way Sahad, thank you very much for the call. This from Max: At what point do the Taliban take control of Pakistan's nuclear weapons. I imagine this is their real goal. Have we not thought that this is much more of a prize for al-Qaida than Afghanistan. What is India's view of the situation? All very good questions, Jackie?

Ms. NORTHAM: Yes I think, you know, the thing is with the nuclear weapons there is that they're all dismantled. They're all across the country. The U.S. doesn't have full control of how these things are being stored or that they have an idea. I've always heard that it wasn't the Taliban that was going to get these and put them all together and somehow detonate them. What it would be, would be a disgruntled scientist. Somebody that actually knows how to do this, somebody like A.Q. Khan who was known for - the world's greatest nuclear proliferator and that type of thing, so that's how I - I'm not…

CONAN: Let's hear more on this from Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy.

Ms. OBAID-CHINOY: Well, I think that the real threat is the nuclear weapons at the end of day. But yes as Jackie pointed out, its not that the Taliban are going to get hand, you know, their hands on it and then put it together. They're not even that smart I think. But I think the real threat is that someone disgruntled either within the army, you know, someone ex-army, or someone who has access to these weapons and the scientist, would have done it. But I think the Pakistani government prides itself in keeping its nuclear weapons very, very safe and it has for a long time. So in the immediate future I don't think that, that is a threat, though I'm sure the Taliban would love to get their hands on anything that would bring destruction.

CONAN: We're talking with Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy who's Frontline/World correspondent for PBS. Her documentary "Pakistan: Children of the Taliban." She's with us here in 3A along with Jackie Northam, NPR's national security correspondent. You're listening to TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News. And Jackie if the Obama administration is deeply worried, the government in New Delhi must be alarmed.

Ms. NORTHAM: Oh yes. And, you know, I think the - again the administration is spending a lot of time in Delhi or with the officials in Delhi trying to smooth, smooth relations there and especially after the Mumbai attack I think it was - you know, there was a lot of pressure on the Delhi government to go in and do something about this to Pakistan. The Obama administration people pulled them back at that point. Next time we're not certain that this going to happen but oh yes I'm sure there's an enormous amount of pressure. And there's huge Indian lobby here in Washington to that exerts a lot of, you know, sway with this administration. So I think we're seeing a lot of - a lot of U.S. involvement in South Asia on all sides right now.

CONAN: Let's talk with Roy(ph). Roy is calling us from Boulder, Colorado.

ROY (Caller): Hello.


ROY: So, my - my business is actually based in Karachi. We've been working in Pakistan for the last 10 years and the problems in the infrastructure, you know, go beyond just the immediate moment of the politics in Pakistan. The electrical capacity has not been improved in the country substantially in 25 years while the population has tripled. The military maintains its own generating system and yet the civilian population sometimes shows up for work and at most - and this is my experience - can work may be two hours a day.

The load shedding, the rolling brown-outs, that are experienced mean that people trying to support their families aren't able to. And they watch the military able to keep functioning, you know, as a class by itself in a society - has created a great deal of resentment. It impoverishes, you know, the working class in Pakistan and it just makes the whole situation a little more unstable and little more ripe, you know, for the insurgency that we see growing very rapidly.

CONAN: Sharmeen he is talking about your hometown, is that right?

Ms. OBAID-CHINOY: Absolutely. There are cracks in the infrastructure that have been there for a long time. Corruption is rampant. The court system in Karachi - people have to wait for months, if not years, before their cases are brought in front of court. So the whole apparatus, the state apparatus, has been crumbling for a long, long time. And of course that creates a certain type of vacuum, but by no means do I think that in Karachi the Taliban can capitalize on that vacuum.

I think the larger cities are much harder and more difficult to look at. I think it's easier for them to capitalize on that may be in areas like Swat or in small villages in the tribal belt. But people in Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, in Faisalabad and the larger cities are vehemently opposed to the Taliban. They might not be taking to the streets but they do not subscribe to that ideology. And the more suicide bombings that take place, the more attacks that take place, the more you find a resolution amongst the people that the Taliban need to be defeated.

CONAN: Roy thanks very much for the call and good luck to your businesses.

ROY: Thank you.

CONAN: Bye, bye. And we just have a little time left Sharmeen. What do you think is going to happen?

Ms. OBAID-CHINOY: You know, for me personally I live in the country. I look at an entire generation of Pakistanis who are growing up in war. And I'm looking at how the Taliban are capitalizing on it and are recruiting children as young as five, six, seven to fight this war. So the next generation of Pakistanis are definitely going to have a much worse outlook in life and going to be really part and parcel of this war.

And what - this war I fear is not going to end tomorrow because the roots of this war are not being addressed. And neither is the fact that the circumstances that lead to these people to become radicalized are being addressed. And you can kill 10,000 people but 20,000 will rise from those very homes.

CONAN: Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy joined us here in studio 3A. Her Frontline/World documentary, "Pakistan: Children of the Taliban" can be seen at Thanks very much for being with us today.

Ms. OBAID-CHINOY: Thank you.

CONAN: And Jackie Northam also with us here in studio 3A. She had to be, we pay her. She's the national security correspondent here at NPR.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: Stay with us. Coming up one more affect, the down economy is having on the country. People are staying put. According to the U.S. census bureau the number of people relocating has plummeted. That's next. Stay with us. I'm Neal Conan. It's the TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.

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