• GONE TALIBAN HUNTING:: Pakistani journalist Owais Tohid checked with contacts in Zabul province, Afghanistan - an area increasingly avoided as too risky by Westerners - before venturing there. "I was told that for a Pakistani, the risk would be less than for a Western journalist."
How did he locate Taliban sympathizers? It wasn't too difficult. "I went into the main city and chatted with three young men wearing the black, Taliban-style turbans," he says.
Owais, who once worked in Kandahar for a Western wire service, knew that direct questioning would get him nowhere. That wasn't the Pashtun way. "We chatted for a good 30 minutes before I even broached the subject. We spoke Urdu. They had lived as refugees in Pakistan and picked it up there," says Owais. "I started dropping names of Taliban leaders, and mentioned my experience in Kandahar. I told them I was a reporter. They never asked for what newspaper. They told me about the living conditions and problems in the region, and eventually one of them invited me to visit his village."
While visiting that village, Owais met the farmer in the story who identified himself as a Taliban supporter (page 7).
• SUNDAY IN THE PARK: While mingling with and interviewing the demonstrators at the pro-democracy rally Sunday in Hong Kong (this page), the Monitor's Robert Marquand was struck by the atmosphere. The crowd was composed of Falun Gong members, scholars, pro-democracy activists, and church groups who brought their lunches. Vendors were hawking "People Power" T-shirts.
"There was no anger. Various church choirs would take the stage, where there was a large sign saying 'Motivate Democracy.' It felt like more of a giant political campfire than a protest."
David Clark Scott