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Friday, January 11, 2008

3: On the Campaign Trail in Pakistan


from: Nicholas Schmidle

"Why Should I Vote in a Pakistani Election?"

Posted Friday, Jan. 11, 2008, at 7:49 AM ET

Naiz Mohammad (in sunglasses and black turban). Click image to expand.Naiz Mohammad (in sunglasses and black turban)

QUETTA, Pakistan—Naiz Mohammad, an illiterate man who doesn't know his age but guesses he's around 50, squatted on a rocky hillside just outside Quetta and told me how he teaches his children. More than a dozen kids, caked head to toe in dust, crowded around, their bellies swollen with worms, greenish snot yo-yoing from their noses. A range of treeless mountains rose behind us, and Quetta's parched cityscape spread in front. Hundreds of rectangular mud huts, all of them inhabited by Naiz's fellow tribesmen, stood scattered along the pitched slope. Spindly desert twigs snagged shreds of plastic shopping bags, which flapped in the biting wind. New Kahan, Naiz's village, has neither phone service nor electricity or running water. There is a government school nearby, but few kids actually attend. "We have a natural cycle of educating our people," said Naiz, who wore a black turban and camouflage jacket. "For instance, you people came today in a big jeep. When you leave, my boys will ask me, 'Why we don't have a jeep like that?' I'll tell them, and then they'll understand the deprivation that the Baluchis suffer."


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