May 28th, 2009
09:05 PM ET

Pakistan in chaos?

Editor's Note: Pakistan looked like it might be descending into chaos over the past 48 hours. Several bombs went off in two major cities on Thursday, just hours after the Taliban warned people to flee. That's on top of attacks in another city the day before that killed more than two dozen people. All this despite - or because - the Pakistan army launched an offensive to push militants back from the capital. Is Pakistan - a nuclear power and key U.S. ally, with an army long focused on India, not on an insurgency - in imminent danger? We spoke with CNN's Reza Sayah, in Islamabad.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/05/28/pakistan.peshawar.blast/art.lahore.amath.afp.gi.jpg caption="Pakistanis look Thursday at the rubble of a police building in Lahore hit by a suicide bomb on Wednesday."]

1. Reza, what is the latest.. is Pakistan's stability deteriorating?

A: Taliban becoming more daring..and dangerous.. stepping up bombings of govt buildings..of civilian targets.. in key cities that were thought to be under control.. showing how much power and control they wield by threatening bombings, and carrying them out, with the government or military unable to stop them

2. It wasn't supposed to be this way, right? Pakistan launched a major offensive against the Taliban, and push them back from the capitol. Isn't it working?

A: The Pakistan military did attack the Taliban in the Swat Valley, northeast of Islamabad. The problem is the Taliban isn't a conventional military.. they don't wear uniforms.. they look like civilians.. so it's not clear who the enemy is.. So the army has just swept hundreds of thousands of people from their homes.. setting off a massive refugee crisis.. the army SAYS it has killed 1200 militants and captured more.. but if you look at the pictures, you can't tell who those people are.. there's no proof they're Taliban..


Filed under: 360° Radar • Pakistan • Reza Sayah • Taliban
September 25th, 2008
01:13 PM ET

It’s getting ugly in Pakistan

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/09/25/art.pakistan.marriott.jpg caption="Pakistani workers clean the debris from Marriott hotel following last week's suicide bomb explosion in Islamabad, Pakistan.]
Reza Sayah | BIO
CNN Islamabad Correspondent

It’s getting ugly in Pakistan.

Last week a massive suicide truck bomb killed more than 50 and destroyed the Islamabad Marriott. Extremists are getting more aggressive and sophisticated than ever. Instead of working together against militants, U.S. and Pakistani troops are firing shots and accusation at one another.

On Thursday the Pentagon said Pakistani troops opened fire on a U.S. chopper flying in Afghan airspace near the Pakistani border. The Pakistani Army said they fired at the chopper because it violated Pakistani airspace. The chopper fired back, they said. Washington and Islamabad are supposed to be partners in the fight against extremists. It doesn’t take a military genius to know partners don’t shoot at one another.

The Pentagon called the incident a misunderstanding, but what’s clear is escalating tension between Washington and Islamabad and rising anti-Americanism among average Pakistanis because of incidents like this.


Filed under: Global 360° • Pakistan • Reza Sayah
August 6th, 2008
08:25 AM ET

Under the Iranian cloak – designer clothes, hip-hop and tears

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/08/05/hijabhijab.jpg]
Reza Sayah
CNN Islamabad Correspondent

The tears came pouring. They belonged to a 29-year-old Iranian man who drove me to a story shoot. I’ll call him Amir to protect his identity. He started crying next to me in the car, midway through a song about Iran’s soccer team. “I cry every time I hear this,” he said.

Amir tells me Iran’s soccer team represents the freedom he and millions of young Iranians yearn for, a freedom to let loose, celebrate and scream in public, a freedom to dance, a freedom to hold a girlfriend’s hand on a city street, a freedom to follow dreams.

When the Iranian soccer team made it to the world cup in 2006, tens of thousands poured onto the streets of Tehran and danced. “There’s a lot of emotion built up inside,” said Amir, “we need to let it out. Soccer is how we let it out.”

Amir’s tears reminded me how different my life could’ve been. I was born in Iran but left with my family when I was 10. We took a few suitcases and started a new life in Philadelphia. That same year both Amir and Iran’s Islamic Revolution were born. Amir never left. He grew up with the revolution. They’re the same age.

The revolution changed everything in Iran.

Filed under: Global 360° • Reza Sayah
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