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'Who is the ideological mastermind behind the new Taliban?'

February 20, 2008
Nicholas Schmidle went to Pakistan in February 2006 on a fellowship from the Washington, DC-based Institute of Current World Affairs to study and write about Pakistani society and the state of affairs in a country beleaguered by terrorism and lack of democracy.

Schmidle, 29 -- who has written extensively for the American media from Pakistan, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, Truthdig -- had to abruptly return to the US last month after the Pakistani police came for him 'on a cold, rainy Tuesday night in January,' virtually threatening to oust him from the country.

'My visa listed no travel restrictions, and less than a week earlier, President Pervez Musharraf had sat before a roomful of foreign journalists in Islamabad and told them that they could go anywhere they wanted in Pakistan,' Schmidle wrote in The Washington Post on his return.

In many of his dispatches during the past two years sent from far off locations in Pakistan, including the North West Frontier Province and Baluchistan -- the hotbed of violence and killings -- Schmidle described in detail the rise of what he calls the next-generation Taliban or neo-Taliban in Pakistan.

He, however, does not know for sure why he was told by the police that night 'to take him to the airport.' Schmidle has been widely complimented for his in-depth reporting from Pakistan and spoke about Pakistan at the Asia Society in New York during a town-hall type meeting recently.

Image: Pakistanis wait to evacuate the conflict area of Charbagh, a town in the Swat valley in the North West Frontier Province on October 28, 2007. Army gunship helicopters pounded hideouts of militants loyal to a radical cleric after several days of clashes. Photograph: Tariq Mahmood/AFP/Getty Images. Inset: Nicholas Schmidle

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