Day 11: Security Concerns

Islamabad, April 1, 9:30 pm

A second refusal from the general. We interviewed him in an office set up for interviews. The general gives interviews every day. I've seen him on local television, talking either in English or in Urdu, or going back and forth between the two.

He said we cannot travel to the tribal areas, work with the military or even film them training. He cited security concerns.

The general had his own camera crew, either because they did not trust us or he wanted to use it on [Pakistani] national television, or both. They set up a camera next to Mal's. They were going to set up a light.

"We're not using that light," Mal said when he saw it. "It's either your interview or our interview."

They backed down. Mal moved the chairs around to change the backround. A major came in and moved one of the plaques on a wall in the backround. Mal moved the plaque. The major came in with a tiny green Pakistan flag and put it on the shelf in the backround. Mal moved the flag. There were two plants, one of which would be in the backround of the shot. Mal moved one of the plants.

The major walked behind Mal's camera and looked into the viewfinder. Cameramen are extremely territorial. With a lot of cameramen, you can never even touch their cameras. They always carry it themselves. It's always with them, even when you go and eat. You can offer to carry the tripod, but don't offer to carry the camera.

So the major looking into the viewfinder was a violation of space. I thought to tell him that Mal wouldn't tell him how to fight a war, so he shouldn't tell Mal how to set up an interview.  But I didn't. And Mal kept cool.

The general with the wisp of hair said that Pakistan was not engaged in a manhunt. He said Pakistan was a moderate country.

While he talked I sometimes looked in his left eye. Sometimes I looked in his right eye. Then I went back to his left eye. People like to be interviewed. They often don't understand the television format. They think if they talk for 20 minutes, then 20 minutes will be on television.

Interviews are often a tool to get what you want. In Afghanistan I would interview one Northern Alliance commander almost daily, sometimes even telling the cameraman to go to black. He would talk for forty minutes in front of a camera that was not rolling. But he allowed us to live in one of his houses.

This guy gave us nothing. It was an hour ride through traffic each way. We rode over the bridge where someone tried to blow up President Musharraf in December, then past a gas station where someone else tried to blow up the President. Someone in our car stunk, and must have gone several days without a shower. I rolled down the window and the warm air came in.

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