Talk about Newsnight

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Wednesday, 27 September, 2006

  • Newsnight
  • 27 Sep 06, 05:09 PM

musharraf_203.jpgWe talk to Pakistan’s President Musharraf about the so-called “war on terror”; how police have been using legal loopholes to avoid speeding convictions; and Martha Kearney reports from Manchester on Bill Clinton’s speech at the Labour Party conference.

Comment on Wednesday’s programme here.

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  • 1.
  • At 06:43 PM on 27 Sep 2006,
  • GlobalCooling wrote:

I'd like to know why so many would-be and convicted Islamic terrorists appear to of Pakistani origin. Is Pakistan concerned that she might be one of the next justifiable targets in the 'war on terror'?

  • 2.
  • At 07:22 PM on 27 Sep 2006,
  • Cris wrote:

Hello, I am still waiting for lastnight's programme... you said you were going to kill the copyrighted bits and put it on the net.. any idea WHEN? at 7.30pm, I'm guessing that's no longer going to happen? After all the comments about the programme that's a real downer :( :( :(

  • 3.
  • At 08:24 PM on 27 Sep 2006,
  • TerenceW wrote:

I am not surprised in the least by the accusation that America threatened Pakistan. I am living in the US at the moment and George Bush is totally out of control, he is constantly trying to pin 9/11 on Iraq and all the government ever talk about is terrorism, as do the media. Now everyone is a terrorist. Terrorism is the new communist. If you question the policy the right wingers say you are defending terrorism, it’s like early stages of fascism.

  • 4.
  • At 11:03 PM on 27 Sep 2006,
  • Anon wrote:

Just saw the piece with Musharraf. Seem irresponsible journalism: to quote that an MOD source would like the ISI dismantled, then do an aggressive interview with Musharraf, and then present the official MOD view, which is the complete opposite of the MOD source.
Comeon Newsnight - you're above this!

  • 5.
  • At 11:08 PM on 27 Sep 2006,
  • Avi Cohen wrote:

Typical cheap BBC, you use an acadmic research paper, peddle it as semi-UK Government policy to gain points against a country that has saved your country from those who seek to destroy you.

When are we going to privatise the BBC? Please! You won't get Newsnight doing a story on the viability of the TV licence!

Don't blame Pakistan for the failures of your country's security agencies. Lets get Pakistan to stop assisting the UK, that will be alot more fun watching the UK crawl to Pakistan begging for assistance in the UK and in Afghanistan. Lets face it, without Pakistan's co-operation, the British Army would have lost yet another Afghan war - AGAIN!

  • 6.
  • At 11:13 PM on 27 Sep 2006,
  • Gordon Pye wrote:

Given that Newsnight gave plenty of coverage to the Lib-Dems and the Green Party on environmental issues last week, how can you almost ignore Labour's transport and environment conference feature. Everyone has already seen Clinton spouting on the various Muppet news earlier in the day

David Miliband could have been drawn on his idea for a carbon credit card, which is the best green scheme I have heard from any party. I expect that the annual carbon credits could be based on the average carbon consumption of an average household running an average car. If you use all your initially free annual credits you would have to buy extra credits on a new card at the going rate. If you use up that card you would have to buy another at a still higher rate, thus deterring over consumption. Rationing carbon is a far fairer way to change people's behaviour than simple green taxes on fuel or air travel, if you don't fly you can use your car more often. People in rural areas could be given extra credits as there are poor or no alternatives to the car. Its definitely a good idea and worth developing into a firm policy. Even Monbiot was impressed on the daily politics but I suspect he would set the free limit too low.

It was also stated that current transport policy would be subject to an audit for its environmental impact, which if taken seriously throws 20 Mph speed limits and traffic calming out of the window, along with lower " rural " speed limits and any other alleged " safety " policy which substantially increases emissions. Douglas Alexander also pledged to allow local authorities to regulate private bus operators, which must be a step in the right direction.

  • 7.
  • At 11:18 PM on 27 Sep 2006,
  • Kris Jones wrote:

I was interested in your report on Police evading speed cameras. The report concentrated on an incident where a South Yorkshire Police vehicle had been caught on a speed camera, and yet officers had evaded prosecution because none of them owned up to being the driver at the time. One question that wasn't put during your interview with the Chief Constable, was whether any disciplinary action had been taken against those officers who were known to be in the vehicle at the time, and if not, why not. Perhaps Newsnight could make a Freedom of Information request.

  • 8.
  • At 11:28 PM on 27 Sep 2006,
  • Steve King wrote:

I am not in the least surprised about the report on double standards in the police. Forces do not want to admit to any more failures than they absolutely have to. I have had cause to make complaints about Police officers in the past and have seen the complaints handling law broken by both Chief Constables and Police authorities along with deliberate moves to exploit loopholes and manipulate outcomes with the obvious intention of ensuring that no proper investigation is completed and/or officers avoid censure - on one occasion an officer was allowed to retire before a complaint about his conduct was upheld! Am I alone in such experience? Would newsnight be willing to conduct an investigation into how complaints are handled?

  • 9.
  • At 11:44 PM on 27 Sep 2006,
  • Keith Donaldson wrote:

The leaked notes on terrorism , the ISI and Pakistan - not Newsnight's finest hour, methinks. Today Bill Clinton thanked Tony Blair for supporting the USA (NB not George W) in the war on terror (and NB NOT for invading Iraq), while wife Hilary advocated some US soul-searching about yesterday's US intelligence report on the effects of the Iraq situation on terrorist recruitment. Surely a better angle would have been to tackle some of our own Government ministers about their reaction to this report? They seem to have been remarkably quiet about it so far!

28th September 2006

Dear Newsnight,

Your first item was thought-provoking. Anyone whose name can be abbreviated as Perv Mush should watch his rear. British intelligence tends to be limited when it comes to cave-dwellers of mass destruction. Too many abbreviations: MMA, ISI. Can't catch the drift of who is hiding the laden vehicle of limping in which Santa's grotto, on which side of the border.

Is Bailey the new Columbine? Why do the Yanks need so many handguns and other easily available weapons, so that flakes can go on a Rambo-rampage? How many amendments will it need to stop ordinary citizens from handing in their Kalashnikovs to the gun-manglers?

Labour. I have to say that I was awfully pleased that Grossman had turned down the volume of his smirk to a perfectly decent ironic twinkle in his eye. Slippery Milly seemed to have recovered from yesterday's fun and games. But he's not quite as charismatic and Ole Bill Lewinsky when it comes to having the marrow sucked out of an old story.

Conference had, 24 hours after Winnie Blair had made a speech which everyone agrees was impressive, gone back to squabbling as usual. No backbone, these New Labour types.

Cop speeding: Meredydd Hughes: fall guy.

Saving your urine-flush is trivial, when water companies waste millions of gallons through leaking pipes of greater diameter.

Best wishes,

Collected Eric

  • 11.
  • At 12:14 AM on 28 Sep 2006,
  • Khandu Patel wrote:

The document rightly points out the duplicity that underpins the ISI's role in the Pakistan state as the aider and abetter of terrorism and the Talibans whilst it is enlisted in the so called "war against terrorism". What is overlooked is the ideological underpinning of the Pakistani state which its own armed forces have never been shy of claiming is jihad. Indeed, a monument at its elite army college exhorts Pakistan's army to the conquest of Dehli, Washington, Tokyo, and London. It is a mistake to be taken in by the exterior of Pakistan's trained armed forces with their display of the British gentlemen. What the document reveals is the deadly mission underneath the facade. We ignore that at our peril.

  • 12.
  • At 12:18 AM on 28 Sep 2006,
  • Simon wrote:

Wot no policies? Except that the busses and GCSEs are still run from Whitehall! But should they be? I don’t have the luxury (no really) of watching the whole conference, at least this year, or frankly the inclination to pour over the printed speeches (isn't that what Newsnight reporters are for? As well as stunts like wristbands as well of course!), but I have pickup up from various bulletins that London and Nottingham are making waves environmentally; and of course all the references to Manchester – but by people from London rather than Manchester!

Maybe the shift away from Whitehall and the policy unit is already underway? ‘All politics is local’ is an old saw, but not yet all media ;-) But the change manager cometh, much to Jeremy’s chagrin, but presumably Bill Clinton’s approval! Maybe Newsnight’s loss is the regions’ gain, albeit to be shared with other programmes? (Shared! I hear some cry – that’s not the ‘public’ school way!) Will all media soon be local? Never all I suspect, but far more, but also a handful global. Perhaps it's a shame itv merged not so long ago? I suspect their global potential is not quite the same as Newsnight’s, for example.

Maybe next year the party conference spotlight will be on civic and county leaders, and more international (dare one suggest European – sorry for swearing, but this is after the watershed) rather than simply the Westminster cabinet? A Labour Party conference for sharing ideas, rather than handing down instructions? Sacrilege! Well, we can dream :-)

  • 13.
  • At 12:19 AM on 28 Sep 2006,
  • JPseudonym wrote:

To answer GlobalCooling msg #1 who wrote:

"I'd like to know why so many would-be and convicted Islamic terrorists appear to of Pakistani origin."

It's quite simple really. Pakistan keeps exporting Imams from the same Madrassas who founded the Taleban to Pakistani ghettos all round Britain.

  • 14.
  • At 04:27 AM on 28 Sep 2006,
  • vikingar wrote:

Ref Avi Cohen #5

As a relatively new nation, against historical tribal context, Pakistan is not a fully unified one nation, if has significant fractures & internal divisions [1]

Therefore, we should not be unduly surprises that such is reflected in its domestic & international political decision making.

Appreciate that President Musharraf & his supporters are walking a fine line (support welcome) but its rather self evident that significant sections in Pakistan, are bolstering & give succour to Islamic Extremism.

With a majority of Sunni Muslims in the population, should we be surprised that Sunni Taliban & Sunni Alqaeda find support in Pakistan [2]

Too many terrorist roads are leading back to Pakistan, too many nuclear proliferation roads lead back to Pakistan. That country needs to address its own internal problems, before it becomes known as a pariah state (though significantly long way from this).

It would be wholly naïve to assume that elements of Pakistan's agencies were not involved.

The Pakistan authorities have the right to deal with who they wish, its their country, but that does not mean that they will not be held accountable for the consequences of such decisions, esp when it affects so many others outside of Pakistan.

You say Saved? ... Pakistan needs the world, far more than the world needs Pakistan.

With significant numbers of Pakistani living abroad [1] (there approximated four million+) why have so many left the country? [3] :
- economic reasons
- political reasons?
- escaping persecution?
- other reasons?

What type of people leave? & which type of people are left :(

Also just wondering how many people are moving there (who do not have family/religious ties), presume not too many.

We can all imagine various scenarios when that country could implode …. then what will happen to their 200+ nukes & other extensive array of WMD [4] The US would not sit around for one, let alone India, in the same way Israel is not going to sit on the Iran issue. btw - the allies in Afghanistan are not fighting 'total war' as they are struggling to fight wartime threats under 'PC' & 'right on' peacetime rules in full media gaze (unlike the non restraint mantra followed by Islamic Extremists). If & when the allied gloves truly come off (regrettably) ... watch out :(

Ref Pakistan, as a country and/or as a form of national identity, do those professing allegiance to such acknowledge the significant concerns that the rest of the world has, given the clear links & association between instances of terrorism with Pakistani connections (direct/indirect) & a country harbouring so much Islamic Extremism (Sunni variety).

The Mujuhadeen could have not defeated the Soviets without a super power help (the US).

Similarly the Taliban & Alqaeda could not survive in that part of the world without regional support & Pakistan is the clear candidate for such (overtly/covertly, from public to state sources).




Regarding some of the posts above, the ISI does have a chequered past – see complete ISI timeline link.

However, this is not the issue.

Newsnight has “created” a story out of nothing. It doesn’t matter whether you’re for or against the ISI, that debate is separate. You cannot take the findings from an unpublished academic paper and suddenly thrust them into the limelight as the official stance of the MOD. This is very sloppy and shoddy journalism.

It’s reminiscent of when the government sexed up the WMD report for Iraq. Then the BBC had some moral high ground. This time around the BBC have sexed up the report.

  • 16.
  • At 10:04 AM on 28 Sep 2006,
  • Fairwinds wrote:

The police don't need to use this "don't remember who was driving" scam to avoid speeding fines precisely because there is literally one law for them and one for the rest of us. The police have only to say that the speed they were doing was necessary to perform their duty then there is no case against them. It is literally written into law that they can exceed speed limits in the performance of their duty. It would have been instructive for newsnight to find out how many police cars have been caught by speed cameras and how many have been fined. I think you'll find the number fined is nil.

  • 17.
  • At 10:12 AM on 28 Sep 2006,
  • Fairwinds wrote:

In reply to Gordon Pye about the green card. Yes a good thing but no good setting the carbon allowance at current average. We need to reduce emissions to 20% of current average so must set the allowance at 10% lower each year until we get there.

  • 18.
  • At 10:35 AM on 28 Sep 2006,
  • JPseudonym wrote:

In answer to Avi Cohen msg #5 who wrote:

"Don't blame Pakistan for the failures of your country's security agencies. Lets get Pakistan to stop assisting the UK, that will be alot more fun watching the UK crawl to Pakistan begging for assistance in the UK and in Afghanistan."

Lets us not forget that Pakistan gave rise to the Taleban in the first place. Without them Al Qaeda would not have been able to establish its base there so there would have been no 9/11 and no 'War on Terror'.

Pakistan must bear some responsibility for starting this war on terror, as well as creating a nation so unstable and insular that its people are disliked all over the world.

Which other nationality in the world cannot be addressed by its short form? People form Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Kurdistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan can all be addressed by their shortform, but Pakistan is unique, because the shortform has become associated with bad language. Why is that?

Let us also not forget that most of the people allegedly involved in terrorist activity have been of Pakistani origin. And don't get me started on the riots of recent years.

  • 19.
  • At 11:10 AM on 28 Sep 2006,
  • vikingar wrote:

Ref Anon #15

"It’s reminiscent of when the government sexed up the WMD report for Iraq. Then the BBC had some moral high ground. This time around the BBC have sexed up the report"


But rather irrelevant since the whole situation is beyond 'sexed up' given the history of the main protagonists & the undoubted levels of collusion between such (ref my #14) … players who are now enjoying a cigarette & a rest before the next frenzied scheduled orgy of violence.

Personally, rather refreshing to see Newsnight stick its oar in - after all its what's the licence fee is for (to enable investigative journalism, shine a light at issues & ask awkward questions) - some sides in a debate will like it, whilst others will not.


  • 20.
  • At 11:15 AM on 28 Sep 2006,
  • Dan Creswell wrote:

Excellent piece on the long suspected double-standards of the police in respect of traffic cameras.

The remarks made by the Chief Constable of Yorkshire were very clearly defensive and indicated that he is in denial. His blatant attempts to mis-direct, refuse to accept responsibility and excuse his force were nothing short of disgraceful.

Surely, his force are well schooled enough to know which group of officers were in the offending vehicle at the time? After all there are issues of insurance to be concerned with, not to mention the need to track officers presence on shifts so they can be paid appropriately? I can see little excuse for not being able to prosecute one or more officers?

It wouldn't be so bad if speed cameras were actually effective which they aren't as the constant abuse of the numbers by the camera partnerships clearly demonstrates.

Speeding is not the problem - poor driving standards are. Driving requires aptitude, awareness, judgement and most importantly concentrated thought. The speed limit is the prescribed limit for average conditions, if it's icy or you're driving past an emptying school, you should be going a lot slower than the speed limit. If it's 2am in the morning, on a wide clear straight road, perhaps the limit is too low? Police drivers know all about this need for thought - it's called "appropriate speed" and that's not a policy that speed cameras can enforce. Thus cameras are a very poor substitute for a road-side chat from an experienced police driver but, of course, they earn various entities a lot of money don't they whilst officers don't.

  • 21.
  • At 11:23 AM on 28 Sep 2006,
  • Joel wrote:

With respect to the headline that UK personal, unsecured debt levels are double those of other EU countries, it was curious to see government advertisements promoting student loans for higher education. The adverts told students not to worry about the cost of education, as they could freely borrow money, and didn't need to repay it until some indeterminate time in the future. Is it any wonder we are developing new generations of credit addicts?

  • 22.
  • At 11:41 AM on 28 Sep 2006,
  • vikingar wrote:

Ref the clear relationship between ISI & the Taliban, its no good Pakistan via President Musharraf or whoever denying any historical link or discounting 'possible' current collusion from Pakistan side.

Taken from Afghanistan Ambassador statement to the UN in 2001

" ……. Mr. Anthony Davis of the Jane's Defence Weekly in his analysis of September 26 this year, referring to the Pakistani military intelligence (ISI) well-defines the case: I quote: "How far the (Pakistani) ISI's field officers will wish to cooperate in the destruction of a force (The Taliban) they helped create and sustained, is uncertain" [1]

Back in 2001, The Daily Telegraph ran interesting story

" …… A SMALL group of officers from Pakistan's intelligence services visited Kandahar without permission from the government at the end of last month, reportedly to help the Taliban prepare their defences and a strategy against US attacks, according to retired military officers "[2]

But what of the history of the Taliban (translates as 'student's) a movement started by predominantly Pashtun Madrasa students & the part played by Pakistan [3a] [3b] [3c]




  • 23.
  • At 11:54 AM on 28 Sep 2006,
  • P Healy wrote:

I liked the way Newsnight presented the story of the MoD report on Pakistan's ISI. There appears to some dislocation between the available source material and the official MoD view. Of course the MoD have their knickers in a twist because of this story - the only view they wish us to have is the official one!

A realistic appraisal of a situation, however unpleasant, is the basis for making improvements. The head-in-the-sand approach only works for politicians, civil servants and lick-spittle cronies.

  • 24.
  • At 12:55 PM on 28 Sep 2006,
  • Giulio Napolitani wrote:

Not surprising that links between the ISI and terrorism are coming to light. Surprising that it took so long, since it has long been known that former ISI Director-General Mahmud Ahmad facilitated the transfer of $100,000 to Mohammed Atta prior to 9/11:

Interesting coincidence that the claims should surface again now. Follow on from the Crawley trial? Or 'payback' for Musharaf's revelations about US threats to bomb Pakistan "back to the stone age" immediately post 9/11.

  • 25.
  • At 08:28 PM on 28 Sep 2006,
  • Someone wrote:

At 10:48 AM on 28 Sep 2006

Written by Steven Schwartz.

You have a depth of understanding regarding the postion of Pakistan and the ISI and I agree with everything you wrote except one error, an error in my opinion.

"Whether in Britain, the US, Canada or elsewhere, these zealots silence moderates through slander and intimidation, stir militancy and intrigue against their most hated enemies: Shia Muslims first, then Jews and, of course, Christians.

The error is in the order, it should read:

Jew first, then Christian and, of course, Shia Muslims.


  • 26.
  • At 11:39 AM on 29 Sep 2006,
  • Baby Almie wrote:

Last night's journalism on the Pakistan piece was really scraping the barrel. To use an academic's own set of notes and then try to peddle it as "Government policy" is lazy at best. If this is something that Newsnight journalists and editors feel is worth wasting three nights in a row discussing then I'd like to know what other interesting new developments you'll be planning to waste my licence fee on - I'm sure there are all sorts of papers written by 15 year old GSCE politics students that you'll be able run stories about. After all, if they're written by pupils in state schools, their content must represent government policy, right?

  • 27.
  • At 12:23 PM on 05 Oct 2006,
  • heather bolton wrote:

Reading between the lines, it was apparent "The West" has been putting great pressure on Pakisatn to aid its engagement with "terrorism". Musharraf explained exasperation of the situation in his region by the west previously funding groups to fight Russian occupation in Afghanistan.
The tragedy is the West's, again short term vision, funding military in Pakistan, to fight its war when Pakistan position also excasperated by refugees, from previous Afghan wars struggles to eke out an existence for its bulging population.

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