India Diaspora
US will have to pull out of Iraq: Time bureau chief
Apr 9, 2007 - 2:33:27 PM

New Delhi, April 9 - Whether in three months or two years, the US will have to pull out from Iraq, and when that happens civil war in the war-ravaged country will spill out in the open, says Aparisim 'Bobby' Ghosh, the India-born Baghdad bureau chief of Time magazine.

'Indeed, the US will have to pull out from Iraq,' Ghosh, currently in India from perhaps the most hazardous of journalistic assignments, told IANS.

Asked what is the best way out of Iraq for the US, the senior international correspondent of Time said; 'I don't know what is the best way out for the US. The political winds in the US are changing. I don't know when the pullout will happen... three months, six months, one year, two years down the line. But it will happen,' he said.

He added that once the Americans move out of Iraq, 'the civil war between the Sunnis and the Shiites is going to come out in the open'.

Ghosh said he wants to go back to Iraq, as there is a story in there. 'But am still scared of that flight.'

Talking about his hazardous assignment, Ghosh said: 'You don't follow up one story at a time. You follow up at least five stories. You don't know which one you will manage to do. You don't know whether the contacts you have today will be alive tomorrow. Of the five stories you try to do, you might end up doing two. Or even one.'

And any positive stories? After all, Ghosh had told CNN last year that there are little or no positive stories coming out from Iraq. Is the scenario the same today?

'Well, even if there are positive stories, they get overtaken by the negative ones. For example, in Baghdad, the situation has relatively calmed down after more US troops came in. That is a good story. But at the same time, the violence has gone up in other places. So that overshadows the situation in Baghdad.'

When asked whether being an Indian put him at an advantage or disadvantage in Iraq, Ghosh said; 'Iraqis are positively disposed towards Indians.'

'Many of the older Iraqis, in the 40-45 age group, grew up watching Shammi Kapoor, Asha Parekh movies. They fondly recall these movies,' the 39-year-old journalist said, adding that Indian consumer products like those of Dabur and Fair & Lovely cream are a hit with the Iraqis.

He said there were 'quite a few' Indians in Iraq. Thousands, I would say, most of them working as contract labourers.'

Asked how his family takes towards him taking a posting in Baghdad since 2002, Ghosh answered: 'Well, my wife, who is based in Singapore, watches the TV channels whenever she hears of a suicide bomber attack or an explosion in Iraq. I, on my part, call her up whenever I hear an explosion or am told that an incident has happened, to assure her that everything is okay.'

Ghosh's much-acclaimed cover story 'Life in Hell: a Baghdad diary' in August 2006 has put him in line for a National Magazine award, the magazine equivalent of the Pulitzers in newspaper journalism in the US. The story has been shortlisted under the General Excellence category.

He is also a recipient of Time's four Luce awards in recognition of his stories on the siege of Jenin in the West bank, the 2003 Madrid bombings and two other stories from Iraq.

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