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Reporters on the Job

November 7, 2007



Black Market Weapons: Gun smugglers, notes correspondent Nicholas Blanford, don't usually chat with reporters. But Nick has interviewed the Lebanese gun dealer in today's story before (see story). "The last time we met, he told me that most guns he sells come from a pool of weapons within Lebanon. Of course, Hizbullah [the Shiite political/militia group] has its own outside sources for rockets and missiles," notes Nick.

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But there was a trickle of guns coming from Iraq, mostly stolen from US and British forces. "He showed me an M4, which is a fancy assault rifle. This one was outfitted with a grenade launcher. He said it was taken from US soldier in Iraq and had made its way to Lebanon via the black market, says Nick.

This week, when Nick spoke with the gun trader, he said that the supply of arms from Iraq had dried up. Now, he's back to selling AK-47s. And the M4? "He told me he sold it for $10,500," says Nick.

Off the Air: Pakistan has about a half dozen 24-hour television news channels, and most first appeared in the past five years and are run by private media organizations. The newest is Dawn TV, the only 24-hour Pakistani news broadcast in English. But all are off the air due to President Pervez Musharraf's declaration of martial law.

For correspondent Shahan Mufti in Islamabad, it's been a sobering wake up call. "As a foreign correspondent, you don't realize how dependent you've become on local news media for basic information to build your stories on. They have reporters in some of the most obscure corners of Pakistan." Many of the Pakistani TV news organizations are still producing stories that are going out worldwide over satellite broadcast networks beamed from Dubai (see story). "They're reporting primarily for a foreign audience," notes Shahan.

– David Clark Scott

World editor

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