[Sorry, the video for this story has expired, but you can still read the transcript below. ]
JIM LEHRER: Next, the Pakistan story. The country’s president is supporting the U.S. campaign, despite vocal popular support for the Taliban in neighboring Afghanistan. We have two reports from ITN correspondents in Pakistan. The first from Tristana Moore in Quetta.
TRISTANA MOORE: A city under siege, hundreds of demonstrators venting their anger against the west and the Pakistani government. The crowds attack a police van. The authorities hadn’t expected so much trouble. Cars were set on fire, and shops were looted. This was the skyline of Quetta. Violence started after morning prayers. Pro Taliban supporters didn’t need much encouragement to take to the streets. And from these men, a chilling warning to President Bush that they will exact their revenge. As journalists were prevented from leaving the hotel for our own security we were told outside police tried to control the crowd with tear gas. But we managed to escape. All morning we drove around Quetta. Shops were closed. Fires were burning everywhere. Even cinemas showing American films were attacked. Well, most journalists have had to spend the entire day at the hotel because police haven’t allowed anyone out at all. They’ve now imposed a curfew and set up roadblocks across the city. We took refuge in a hospital where already the casualties were being brought in. This 12-year-old boy was shot in the arm. Many more were injured. An Afghan doctor living here in Quetta tried to get through to friends in Banyan. They told her hundreds of people were already on the move. This was her reaction to the strikes on Afghanistan.
SIMA SAMAR, Doctor: To be honest, I was upset. I really did cry last night for the poor people in Afghanistan. I mean, nobody knew that… When it will happen. So they were not prepared.
TRISTANA MOORE: Reporter: Just across town demonstrators were burning the UNICEF headquarters. The building was evacuated in time but it was enough to frighten local U.N. officials who have now moved out of all their offices and, like foreign journalists here, are restricted by the authorities.
IAN WILLIAMS: Tear gas greeted the holy warriors in the frontier town of Kashawa — riot police forcing several hundred mostly religious students off the streets, showing little patience for their calls for a holy war against America. While in the capital, they chanted “war will continue until America’s destroyed” — egged on by hard-line religious leaders for whom last night’s bombing provides the green light for the Jihad.
MAN ON STREET: And now the holy war has become obligatory for every Muslim and people should go for a Jihad against the American attack.
IAN WILLIAMS: Islamabad’s police were also braced for the worst — though the crowd of no more than a couple of thousand was watched by onlookers with bemusement rather than fear. Pakistan’s military ruler has sacked two top pro Taliban generals — together with his intelligence chief. Nothing out of the ordinary he insisted.
PRESIDENT PERVEZ MUSHARRAF, Pakistan: Well, this is a normal military activity, which has gone on. It has no relationship with events that are taking place, absolutely.
IAN WILLIAMS: He said his support for Washington was backed by most Pakistanis and that he’s been assured military action won’t last for long.
PRESIDENT PERVEZ MUSHARRAF: And I have got definite assurances that this operation will be short. It ought to be targeted. And also it should not be having collateral damage.
IAN WILLIAMS: He’s aware of how protests could be inflamed by a long conflict with civilian casualties.
JIM LEHRER: Late today Gwen Ifill talked with the New York Times correspondent in Islamabad, John Burns.
GWEN IFILL: John Burns, welcome. What has been the reaction so far in Islamabad and throughout Pakistan to yesterday’s strikes?
JOHN BURNS: Well, as I’m sure you’re aware and your viewers will be seeing, there have been some fairly serious street protests today — much more vehement than we have seen in the past three weeks since the planes hit the twin towers and, worryingly, have turned to violence– considerable violence in one city, the city of Quetta– in the southwest of Pakistan, which is significantly the gateway to Kandahar in southern Afghanistan. That is to say, Quetta is only about 150 miles from Kandahar, and the explosions that we all saw last night in the night sky around Kandahar have a very direct resonance in Quetta where there are people who trade across the border and who have families across the border. These protests have been seen also in every other major city of Pakistan and it’s, at the moment, something of an open question as to whether they will build from there and threaten the stability of Pakistan and of its military government, or whether they will turn to more short term. I’m rather inclined to think myself that the government will maintain control and will steady the ship.
GWEN IFILL: Who are these protests directed against? Are they directed against General Musharraf or are they directed against America?
JOHN BURNS: It’s an interesting question. In the main, they’re directed against the United States and for the Taliban, and no less for Mr. bin Laden. It has to be said that these protests are mounted by what you might call, the usual suspects. That is to say political groupies in Pakistan. It’s a bit too much to call them political parties, since most of them have never competed in an election, and Islamic militants have never gained more than 5% or 6% in any general election here. These are people who are committed to replicating in Pakistan what the Taliban did in Afghanistan — that is to say, establishing a hard-line, militant repressive Islamic state. This will absolutely play into General Musharraf, Pakistan’s military ruler, is correct in saying that from all evidence available to those of us who are here, that this position is not supported by more than a marginal group of Pakistanis; he puts it at 10%-15%.
GWEN IFILL: Right.
JOHN BURNS: And I think that’s correct. But they do have a potential to cause quite a lot of trouble.
GWEN IFILL: Colin Powell, the Secretary of State, is heading to Islamabad later this week. What does he expect, what should he expect to hear when he gets there?
JOHN BURNS: I think what he’ll hear from General Musharraf is what General Musharraf told us in his news conference today. He finds himself in a very interesting position. He completed today the most important military shuffle in Pakistan in many years, and I think as of today he’s probably the most important powerful political leader Pakistan has seen in 20 years. He now has a firm grip on his own army, which he has not had in the two years since he became the military ruler of this country, and so on the one hand he’s a more confident man– he feels he’s taken the right track– but these street protests make him very uneasy, and so he will be telling General Powell– general to general, I would imagine, since he loves to speak in military terms– that the operations in Afghanistan must be short, they must be very carefully targeted to avoid collateral damage, they must be brought to a conclusion early so that the United States and Pakistan and their allies in this venture can move on to rebuilding Afghanistan, in particular, to rebuilding Afghanistan’s government. It’s assumed in this that the Taliban is history, and Pakistan is very keen to see that a new government is installed in Kabul that is friendly to Pakistan and you only have to look at a map to see why that is so.
GWEN IFILL: Yesterday we saw Osama bin Laden basically send out a call to arms to all Muslims in other Muslim countries to rise up against the United States. Has that had any impact in Pakistan?
JOHN BURNS: It certainly would have an impact in the sense that Osama bin Laden has an enormous appeal throughout the Arab Muslim world to certain kinds of people. He’s on the front pages of every popular magazine, his name is scrawled on highway overpasses, in Pakistan no less than any other country. So, asked if his support is broad, I believe it’s rather shallow. I think that the people who go into the streets waving his placard, his portrait, will tell you that they were shocked by what happened to the Twin Towers, and they… It’s very, very rare to find anybody… Even, by the way, in the Taliban, who will tell you that they support what happened. This has been a tremendous shock– and even the Islamic militants find themselves, as we all do, in a new world, so my guess here is that the issue really is not so much Mr. bin Laden for the people to take to the street, it’s certainly not Mr. bin Laden for the great middle class or the great working masses of Pakistan. I think it’s rather more a sense of unease about the Taliban and the overthrow of a government in a neighboring country, which some people would say for all its repressiveness, and for all its harboring of terrorists, was the only government in Afghanistan in 20 years that created any kind of peace in the areas in which they ruled.
GWEN IFILL: Well, John Burns, thank you very much. We’ll be reading what you write, and stay safe.
JOHN BURNS: It was my pleasure. Thank you very much.