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Reporter’s Notebook: Renee Montagne On Her Travels In Afghanistan

Reporter’s Notebook: Renee Montagne On Her Travels In Afghanistan


It’s HERE AND NOW. Terrible news out of Afghanistan – 2,000 people pronounced to be blank after a landslide in a remote range buried 300 homes. We’ll follow that story for you. But before to this new headline, Afghans were rapt with a runoff choosing that will confirm who will reinstate President Hamid Karzai, who has been in energy given 2001.

None of a possibilities in a country’s presidential choosing final month could secure 50 percent of a vote, so a tip dual contenders will contest for a respect in June. You substantially listened NPR’s MORNING EDITION co-host Renee Montagne roving by Afghanistan to take stock. She’s combined many benchmarks to magnitude that country’s progress. This was her 10th outing given 9/11.

So we’ve asked her to open her reporter’s cover now that she’s back. And Renee, usually start with your overarching clarity of where Afghanistan was when we visited.

RENEE MONTAGNE, BYLINE: My clarity from going around a nation was that this is a new moment. It’s a new era. It is time for – that Afghans can start looking forward as arrange of owning their country, and this choosing was unequivocally a good start. And I’ll usually contend one thing unequivocally quickly. When we was headed there, utterly literally in a days that we was entertainment myself and even packing, there was a clarity that we was going to nowhere though Kabul since there had been attacks.

Foreigners and reporters were being targeted. we consider it says a lot about a nation and about a weakness, really, of a Taliban that in fact we was means to transport utterly widely – delicately though utterly widely – during a choosing and a week or so afterwards.

YOUNG: Well, we do wish to ask we about a Taliban, though initial let’s speak about this arriving runoff since we spoke to both of a frontrunners. Abdullah Abdullah is one. Here is a small bit of your speak with him.

ABDULLAH ABDULLAH: we was asked in one speak that who is your rival. we contend that my initial opposition is fraud. And my second opposition is also fraud.


MONTAGNE: That was a small bit of a fun on his part. There was indeed a campaign, a outrageous debate print adult in Kabul, where he’s station in front of a large crowd, and that was a motto: My biggest opposition is fraud. Abdullah Abdullah was a male who mislaid to Hamid Karzai in 2009, and that was widely viewed as a hurtful and fraud-ridden election.

There was a large concentration on that in this election, and a integrate of engaging things. First of all, many of a candidates, Abdullah Abdullah being a categorical one, had opinion watchers during all a polling places that they could get them in. He had something, we know, in a thousands of opinion watchers among his supporters.

But it is during this indicate flattering well-considered that a opinion was pretty giveaway and fair.

YOUNG: Well, a other candidate, a other frontrunner, Ashraf Ghani. He got his doctorate during Columbia University, taught during Johns Hopkins, lived in a U.S. for many years. Here’s a impulse from his review with you.

ASHRAF GHANI AHMADZAI: Nobody can demeanour and contend there goes a Johns Hopkins professor. What they contend is there goes a male of a people.

YOUNG: Do they, Renee?

MONTAGNE: Well, he became most some-more of a male of a people this time. Ashraf Ghani ran in a final election, and he came in with about 3 percent of a vote. And one of a reasons was this. He is a technocrat. He worked during a World Bank for a integrate of decades. He was a male who helped spin a Afghan banking into a complicated currency. He managed to sell a aged records for a new records in some stunningly brief time, like a couple, 3 weeks.

He’s deliberate someone who’s fit though also somebody who was cold in a approach that a scientist competence be. And so he had to reconstitute himself for this election, to put on internal dress, even lowered his voice to some extent. One thing about him, he was deliberate by one and all as substantially a claimant who could attain in creation changes since he was a can-do kind of guy.

So Ashraf Ghani is a unequivocally clever candidate, and that’s what he was articulate about. we theory he’s not a Johns Hopkins highbrow to Afghans anymore.

YOUNG: Well Renee, we also, as we said, went out and met typical people and some that you’d famous for now 12 years since you’ve been going to a nation so many times. Take us to a villages of Istalif, as we do. It’s a encampment that has potters, and there’s one man, one family there that we initial met in 2002 when a Taliban had totally torched a village. What does his arc, his story arc and what you’ve schooled over this 12 years of visiting him, what does that tell we about Afghanistan?

MONTAGNE: Well, this potter, his name is Abdul Wakil, and yes, he went by a Soviet epoch as a immature man, as a boy. He went by a Taliban time as a father of a immature family. He was a initial chairman to come behind to a encampment who was a potter, and as we said, it was torched. There was zero there.

As someone told me there during that time, since we talked to a lot of other villagers, a Taliban had even killed a songbirds in their cages since this was a front line, and they were removing punish when they finally finished it into Istalif and a farms around Istalif.

So when we met him, there was roughly nothing. He was hungry. His family was still skinny from gauntness over a prior years. And we have watched him over several visits, I’ve usually finished a integrate of stories, though I’ve left there when we haven’t finished stories, and watched a whole encampment grow adult around him and him prosper.

And we pronounced a prolonged time ago, and this has incited out to be true, that if all of Afghanistan could have prospered a approach Istalif was successful already in those early days, afterwards Afghanistan would be a smashing place.

YOUNG: And what did we see about a standing of women? It struck us that we didn’t hear women’s voices in that reporting, though you’ve told us it’s since – simply since his mother usually was bashful and didn’t wish to be recorded. But we also listened of, we know, immature girls roving bicycles, bicycle racing. So what did we feel has altered or stayed a same about a standing of women in Afghanistan?

MONTAGNE: Well, one thing that has been a large worry, and it’s a legitimate worry, is that after 2014 and infantry are drawn down that women will be in a initial line to be hurt. But in fact, and this was unequivocally exciting, women’s issues were on a lips of each candidate. Now some of this was politics, and that’s even a unequivocally good thing since it meant that a woman’s opinion counted.

And I’ll contend one other thing unequivocally quickly. When we speak about during polling places where there were all these opinion watchers, in a women’s sections there were lots of women who had volunteered on a day when everybody approaching assault and attacks. There were women examination a voting booths, carrying their babies to this choosing that was ostensible to be so violent. It incited out it wasn’t, though that’s a turn of aplomb and joining that they had.

YOUNG: NPR’s Renee Montagne, what pulls we to Afghanistan, 10 trips, 12 years?

MONTAGNE: For one thing it’s a pleasing country, a arrange of extraordinary and thespian country, and also they are people that we can get around, and we can spend a whole dusk shouting and revelation stories, and we have never laughed so much, actually, as a day spent in Afghanistan articulate to a villager, articulate to them. They have a unequivocally dry clarity of humor.

They finished jokes about a Taliban. You consider since can we fun about a Taliban. People will tell we a funniest stories about a Taliban, how foolish they were. And also a approach of revelation their stories that is poetic, often, and this is ongoing. You know, so we have a lot of faith in a nation because, we know, it’s kind of filled with people like that.

YOUNG: MORNING EDITION’s Renee Montagne on her new revisit to Afghanistan. Thanks so much.

MONTAGNE: Robin, appreciate you. It’s been a pleasure.

YOUNG: Renee from MORNING EDITION, ALL THINGS CONSIDERED in a afternoon, and here we are right in a middle, HERE AND NOW, gripping we adult on a news. You’re listening to HERE AND NOW. Transcript supposing by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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