‘Monitoring’ foreign reporters in Pakistan
Scott Baldauff’s account of the ISI’s attempts to keep tabs on foreign reporters is hilarious.
Now, Iâ€™m not an especially paranoid man. Generally, I assume that anyone who listens into my conversations (and you know who you are) is in serious need of a life. But Pakistanis who know better tell me that the security apparatus â€“ led by the military intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) directorate â€“ is indeed keeping tabs on foreign reporters, aid workers, and Pakistanis alike.
One American woman I know, who happens to have an Indian name, used to get regular obscene phone calls when she and her husband were posted in Islamabad a few years ago. Her husband complained to the Foreign Ministry, who then complained to ISI. Abruptly, the phone calls stopped. (Coincidence, perhaps.)
Yet there are a few instances of spooky decency. One Indian friend, who came to Pakistan on a tourist visa, jumped into a taxi cab to go shopping, only to find out the taxi driver didnâ€™t know his way around. For 20 minutes, the taxi drove in circles, until finally, a gleaming white Toyota Corolla pulled up alongside at a stop light. A man in sunglasses motioned for the driver to lower his window. â€œMadame, please tell us where you are going, and weâ€™ll lead you there. Otherwise, weâ€™ll never get our afternoon tea.â€ [CSM]