Jackie Northam

Jackie Northam is Foreign Affairs correspondent for NPR news. The veteran journalist has more than two decades of experience covering the world's hot spots and reporting on a broad tapestry of international and foreign policy issues.

Based in Washington, D.C., Northam is assigned to the leading stories of the day, traveling regularly overseas to report the news - from Afghanistan and Pakistan, to earthquake-ravaged Haiti.

Northam just completed a five year stint as NPR's National Security Correspondent, covering US defense and intelligence policies. She led the network's coverage of the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, traveling regularly to the controversial base to report on conditions there, and on US efforts to prosecute detainees.

Northam spent more than a decade as a foreign correspondent. She reported from Beirut during the war between Hezbollah and Israel in 2006, from Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein, and from Saudi Arabia during the first Gulf War. She lived in and reported extensively from Southeast Asia, Indochina, and Eastern Europe, where she charted the fall of communism.

While based in Nairobi, Kenya, Northam covered the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. She managed to enter the country just days after the slaughter of ethnic Tutsis began by hitching a ride with a French priest who was helping Rwandans escape to neighboring Burundi.

A native of Canada, Northam's first overseas reporting post was London, where she spent seven years covering stories on Margaret Thatcher's Britain and efforts to create the European Union.

Northam has received multiple journalism awards during her career, including Associated Press awards, regional Edward R. Murrow awards, and was part of an NPR team journalists that won an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award.

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Business
1:00 am
Fri March 22, 2013

Google's Eric Schmidt Heads To Another Isolated Asian Nation

Eric Schmidt, Google's executive chairman and former CEO, stands near a statue of the late North Korean leader Kim Il Sung in Pyongyang in January. He's headed now to Myanmar, another largely untapped market.
David Guttenfelder AP

Originally published on Fri March 22, 2013 8:55 am

Google's executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, who went to North Korea in January, is making a short visit Friday to Myanmar, also known as Burma.

Why is the senior executive of a U.S. technology powerhouse visiting some of the poorest and least wired countries in Asia?

Schmidt will be the first top U.S. executive to travel to the Southeast Asian nation since it began emerging from decades of international isolation under a military dictatorship.

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Asia
2:34 pm
Thu February 28, 2013

At A Pakistani Mobile Library, Kids Can Check Out Books, And Hope

After decades living and working abroad, Saeed Malik (left) returned to his native Pakistan and wanted to do something to help rectify what he saw as a poor education system. He founded the Bright Star Mobile Library, which now serves about 2,500 children.
Jackie Northam NPR

Originally published on Thu February 28, 2013 4:30 pm

On a cold, rainy morning, a van pulls up outside a rural elementary school on the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan's capital. The fluorescent green vehicle provides a flash of color on this otherwise gray day. There's a picture of children reading books under a large apple tree, and the words "Reading is fun" are painted in English and Urdu, the national language in Pakistan.

This is the weekly visit of the Bright Star Mobile Library.

Volunteer Ameena Khan starts pulling books from shelves on either side of the van.

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Asia
1:03 am
Wed February 20, 2013

Controversial Cleric Stirs Protests Upon Return To Pakistan

Pakistani Muslim cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri (center), speaks to a crowd from a bulletproof box in Islamabad in January. The cleric recently returned to Pakistan after years in Canada, and his calls for an end to corruption have brought supporters to the streets in large numbers.
Farooq Naeem AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed February 20, 2013 6:34 pm

In Pakistan, a controversial Muslim cleric has been shaking up the political scene.

Dr. Tahir-ul-Qadri returned to his home country late last year, after spending eight years in Canada. Since coming back, he has ignited a disgruntled electorate and has left many people wondering what exactly his plans are.

On a recent day, a lively drum band wandered among a crowd of about 15,000 Pakistanis gathered in the eastern city of Faisalabad for a rally organized by Qadri.

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Asia
1:52 pm
Tue February 19, 2013

Amusement Park Planned In The Town Where Bin Laden Hid Out

The Hazara Heritage Park will be built on the edge of Abbottabad, Pakistan, set in the foothills of the Himalayas.
Jackie Northam NPR

Originally published on Tue February 19, 2013 4:42 pm

Developers in Pakistan will soon break ground on a new amusement park and outdoor activity center, a private, $30 million project billed as a state-of-the-art facility that will bring jobs to a hard-hit area.

But there's one issue that's raising some eyebrows: the site is in Abbottabad, not far from the place where Osama Bin Laden secretly lived until American forces killed him.

This does not trouble Sheikh Kaleemuddin, the project director, who is effusive about the picturesque spot where he plans to build.

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Asia
4:42 am
Mon February 18, 2013

Momentum Grows For Pakistan-Taliban Peace Talks

Originally published on Mon February 18, 2013 5:02 am

Both sides say they're ready to talk, but the Taliban is putting stiff conditions on any negotiations. All previous attempts at a peace deal have failed. Analysts say the Pakistani government lacks a coordinated strategy.

Middle East
3:28 pm
Thu February 7, 2013

Pakistan Says U.S. Drone Strikes Violate Its Sovereignty

There was another U.S. drone strike in northwest Pakistan on Wednesday. At least three people were killed when missiles struck a compound in North Waziristan, near the border with Afghanistan. The strike comes as Washington debates the use of drones and not long after Ambassador Sherry Rehman said the use of drones was a violation of Pakistan's sovereignty and international law. Throughout Pakistan, popular reaction to the drone strikes continues to be vociferously negative. Robert Siegel talks to Jackie Northam.

Africa
3:12 pm
Wed January 23, 2013

Algeria Offers No Apologies For Its Tactics During Hostage Crisis

Originally published on Wed January 23, 2013 6:53 pm

The Algerian government was criticized for its handling of the gas plant hostage crisis which left 37 foreigners dead, including three Americans. But Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal told a press conference he was proud of how the security forces handled the crisis.

National Security
1:35 am
Wed January 23, 2013

Obama's Promise To Close Guantanamo Prison Falls Short

Demonstrators, dressed as detainees, march on Jan. 11 against the U.S. military detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and call for President Obama to close the facility.
Evan Vucci AP

Originally published on Wed January 23, 2013 6:13 am

In one of his first acts as commander in chief, President Obama in 2009 signed an executive order to close the U.S. detention camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

It was part of a campaign promise the president made, to close the camp and "determine how to deal with those who have been held there." But four years on, the controversial prison remains open.

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Africa
3:38 am
Sat January 19, 2013

'Algerian Style': Cooperative, To A Point

People gather Friday outside a hospital in eastern Algeria as they try to get information on those wounded during a military raid on a gas plant where Islamic extremists were holding hostages.
Anis Belghoul AP

Originally published on Sat January 19, 2013 9:19 pm

The Algerian government gave no advance notice that it was planning to launch a military operation to rescue hostages at the remote In Amenas natural gas field, despite offers of support and advice by many nations, including the U.S.

The anger and disappointment in Washington is muted, however, because the U.S. sees Algeria as a critical ally in the fight against terrorism.

Logistical Dependence

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Afghanistan
4:51 am
Sat January 12, 2013

As U.S. Starts Afghanistan Drawdown, Long-Term Concerns Linger

Originally published on Sat January 12, 2013 10:08 am

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan has concluded a four-day visit to Washington, D.C. The president met with senior administration officials, including a private meeting in the Oval Office with President Obama. Their discussions reportedly centered on the U.S. role in Afghanistan after 2014. That's when most of the U.S. and NATO troops are due to withdraw from the country. NPR's Jackie Northam has this report.

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Afghanistan
2:46 pm
Fri January 11, 2013

Obama: U.S. Forces Will Transition To Support Role In Afghanistan

Originally published on Fri January 11, 2013 4:11 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block. The leader of Afghanistan has had a rocky relationship with the U.S., but today at the White House, President Hamid Karzai and President Obama spoke of progress. As NPR's Jackie Northam reports, today's discussion on what role the U.S. might play in Afghanistan in the future.

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Afghanistan
1:49 am
Tue January 8, 2013

Future Of U.S. Troops Looms Over Afghan Leader's Visit

President Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai greet each other during a May 20 meeting at the NATO Summit in Chicago. Karzai is in Washington, D.C., this week to meet Obama and other senior U.S. officials.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP

Originally published on Tue January 8, 2013 6:06 am

Afghan President Hamid Karzai is in Washington this week for meetings with President Obama and other senior administration officials. The talks are expected to help set the framework for U.S. involvement in Afghanistan after the bulk of American and NATO forces leave at the end of 2014. One of the key issues to be discussed is the number of American troops to remain in Afghanistan after that date.

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World
1:56 pm
Mon December 24, 2012

U.S. Has Previously Called On Sen. Kerry In Diplomatic Crises

Originally published on Mon December 24, 2012 3:18 pm

Over the past few years, Sen. John Kerry has quietly made several trips to Afghanistan and Pakistan to help defuse diplomatic crises.

Asia
3:25 am
Tue December 18, 2012

U.S. Nervous About Japan's New Prime Minister

Originally published on Tue December 18, 2012 4:07 am

The Obama administration will soon be dealing with new leadership in Japan. Over the weekend, Japanese voters returned a former prime minister to the country's top job. Shinzo Abe took an assertive stand on several issues during the election, sparking concern in the U.S. his win could stir up tension in the region.

Asia
3:59 am
Sun December 2, 2012

In Pakistan, Secrets Of A 3,000-Year-Old Cemetery

The graves were apparently opened and reopened multiple times, serving more than one generation.
Courtesy of ACT Project

Originally published on Sun December 2, 2012 1:46 pm

High on a hill overlooking Pakistan's scenic Swat Valley sits a recently excavated cemetery. Italian archaeologist Luca Maria Olivieri walks across the site and lays a sun-beaten hand on a clay slab jutting out from a high, dun-colored wall. It's an ancient grave.

Olivieri says the remains still have to be carbon-tested, but archaeologists believe the graves contain members of a Dardic community, which dominated this part of Pakistan 3,000 years ago.

It's believed Alexander the Great fought one of his battles here, in the village of Udegram.

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Asia
3:01 am
Tue November 27, 2012

In Pakistan Shooting, Malala's Friends Also Bear Scars

A bullet went through 13-year-old Shazia Ramazan's hand when a Taliban gunman opened fire on Malala Yousafzai and other schoolgirls in a van in Pakistan last month.
Anja Niedringhaus AP

Originally published on Tue November 27, 2012 5:31 am

On Oct. 9, in Mingora, Pakistan, in the country's picturesque Swat Valley, Kainat Riaz left her high school and climbed into the back of a small van. The bright-eyed 16-year-old sat near another schoolgirl, Malala Yousafzai.

At just 15, Malala, an outspoken critic of the Taliban, had already earned a name in her country — and internationally — for her courage. Kainat says there was a lot of chatter in the six-seat van as it shuttled the girls home.

Then, in the middle of a busy road, the van suddenly stopped, and a masked gunman got into the vehicle.

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Afghanistan
1:58 am
Wed November 21, 2012

Prisoner Release Shifts Pakistan's Afghan Policy

Originally published on Thu November 22, 2012 10:06 am

There has been a small but potentially important breakthrough in the faltering Afghan peace process. In what is considered a good-faith gesture, Pakistan last week released at least nine Afghan Taliban prisoners. The move is seen as part of an emerging new strategy by Pakistan as it eyes the looming drawdown of U.S. and Western troops in Afghanistan.

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World
12:58 pm
Tue November 20, 2012

Blasphemy Charges On The Rise In Pakistan

Students demand the reopening of the Farooqi Girls High School in Lahore, Pakistan, in early November. A mob attacked the school in October, accusing a teacher of insulting the Prophet Muhammad. It takes just one accusation to lead to an arrest under Pakistan's stringent blasphemy laws.
Arif Ali AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue November 20, 2012 4:14 pm

Pakistan has had 27 blasphemy cases filed so far this year, a figure that alarms human rights groups, who say the law is frequently used to persecute religious minorities.

In a case that has drawn international attention, a judge on Tuesday dismissed blasphemy charges against a Christian girl, Rimsha Masih, ending a three-month order for her and her family.

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Shots - Health News
3:24 pm
Wed October 17, 2012

How The Taliban Is Thwarting The War On Polio

Children in a Lahore slum after heavy rains. The slum has a large population of Pashtuns who came from Pakistan's lawless tribal regions; many carry the polio virus with them.
Jackie Northam NPR

Originally published on Wed October 17, 2012 6:26 pm

Pakistan is one of the remaining corners of the world where polio still lingers. Last year, the government declared a national emergency, and with the help of international institutions, embarked on an aggressive vaccination campaign.

So far, the results have been promising. The number of new polio cases is about a third of last year's total of 198.

But the new campaign, like previous efforts, hasn't been able to overcome one critical problem: getting into parts of Pakistan's lawless tribal regions along the border with Afghanistan to vaccinate the children there.

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Asia
1:47 am
Thu October 4, 2012

Faltering Economy Threatens Pakistan's Stability

A demonstrator reacts after Pakistani policemen fire tear gas during a protest against power cuts in Karachi in June. Pakistan suffers from a massive energy crisis, one of several factors contributing to the country's severe economic troubles.
Rizwan Tabassum AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu October 4, 2012 8:19 am

If you want to gain a good insight into Pakistan's economic situation, just look at a few of the country's newspaper headlines on any given day. The language says it all: prices soar, stocks plunge, budget deficit swells, foreign investment evaporates — and the list goes on.

Now, analysts are increasingly worried that the faltering economy could join Pakistan's pervasive insurgency and repeated political upheavals as another serious threat to the country's stability.

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World
2:30 pm
Fri September 28, 2012

Pakistani Minister Stands By Bounty For Filmmaker

Ghulam Ahmed Bilour, Pakistan's railways minister, has offered $100,000 for the death of a filmmaker who produced an anti-Islam movie. He says it's the "only way" to stop insults to the Prophet Muhammad.
Aamir Qureshi AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri September 28, 2012 5:24 pm

Despite international condemnation, Pakistan's railways minister says he isn't backing down from his $100,000 bounty offer to anyone who kills the maker of the anti-Islam film Innocence of Muslims.

Ghulam Ahmed Bilour, the slight, silver-haired minister, says he was angry when he saw the video and that he's a man of great faith, passionately devoted to the Prophet Muhammad.

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Middle East
3:30 pm
Fri September 21, 2012

15 Dead After Pakistan Protests Over Anti-Islam Video

Originally published on Fri September 21, 2012 4:53 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish.

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Shots - Health Blog
1:29 pm
Fri September 21, 2012

On The Road To Polio Eradication In Pakistan

NPR's Jackie Northam travels through the urban slums of Lahore, Pakistan, with Omer Feroze, a "social mobilizer," who works on polio vaccine campaigns.
NPR

Originally published on Thu October 18, 2012 2:43 pm

As one of the last three countries in the world where polio is still endemic, Pakistan has launched an aggressive campaign to eradicate the virus.

It's had good results in many places, but just last week health officials say they discovered three new cases, which they deem a serious setback in their eradication efforts.

Getting the polio vaccine to children in urban slums is a huge challenge for health workers, who face many physical and social barriers.

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World
1:29 am
Thu September 20, 2012

Father Of Pakistan's Nukes Enters Politics

Pakistani lawyers carry posters of Khan at a rally in support of him in Lahore in 2008.
Arif Ali AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu September 20, 2012 8:56 am

The man known as the father of Pakistan's nuclear weapons program, Abdul Qadeer Kahn, is a national hero in Pakistan — and a villain in much of the West.

Now, the controversial scientist is trying his hand at politics at the age of 76.

In the U.S., Khan is best known for selling nuclear technology to nations such as North Korea and Iran. In 2004, at the urging of the U.S., Pakistan placed Khan under house arrest. But in 2009, he was freed.

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