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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Asia
3:03 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 8:34 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
3:52 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 6:42 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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National Security
3:35 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 8:13 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
5:29 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 11:19 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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NPR Story
4:38 pm
Fri January 11, 2013

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

Originally published on Fri January 11, 2013 6:11 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
3:49 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 8:06 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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Asia
5:59 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 3:46 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
5:01 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 7:31 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
3:58 am
Wed November 21, 2012

Prisoner Release Shifts Pakistan's Afghan Policy

Originally published on Thu November 22, 2012 12:06 pm

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
2:58 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 6:14 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
4:52 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 8:26 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
3:47 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 10:19 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
4:02 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 7:24 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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World
3:29 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 10:56 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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Dead Stop
3:27 am
Tue August 28, 2012

On Remote Island, The Dead Are Buried Far And Wide

Tiny Grindstone Island has only one official cemetery.
Jackie Northam NPR

Originally published on Tue August 28, 2012 8:38 pm

Grindstone Island's lone public dock is just three miles north of the U.S. mainland, a straight shot by powerboat across the St. Lawrence River from Clayton, N.Y. Part of the Thousand Islands, Grindstone Island sits in a waterway shared by the U.S. and Canada.

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Asia
3:18 am
Wed August 8, 2012

Japan's Nuclear Debate Weighs Safety, Economics

Anti-nuclear protesters carry "No nukes" banners during a march in Tokyo last month. Protests against Japan's use of nuclear power have grown in the aftermath of the March 2011 Fukushima disaster.
Koji Sasahara AP

Originally published on Fri August 10, 2012 3:28 pm

At 6 p.m. every Friday — with the kind of precision timing the Japanese live by — the protests in downtown Tokyo begin.

Thousands of Japanese — young, old, in wheelchairs and on skateboards — shout anti-nuclear slogans from behind police barricades that snake around the office of Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda. Over the past four months, the protests have swelled; at least 75,000 people turned out at a recent demonstration.

Nobuyuki Miyazaki, an office worker, says this is the first time he's ever been to a demonstration.

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Middle East
4:57 pm
Thu July 19, 2012

Russia, China Block Another U.N. Resolution On Syria

Originally published on Thu July 19, 2012 6:38 pm

Transcript

JACKIE NORTHAM, BYLINE: I'm Jackie Northam in Washington. Today at the U.N., Russia and China vetoed a Western-backed draft resolution that warned of sanctions against the Syrian regime unless it complies with a peace plan.

This is the third time those two countries have used their veto power to block a resolution on Syria. Britain's U.N. ambassador, Mark Lyall Grant, called the decision by Russia and China appalling, and said it would lead to further bloodshed in Syria.

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Middle East
7:58 am
Sat June 23, 2012

Syrian Conflict A Haunting Reminder Of Bosnia

Originally published on Sat June 23, 2012 11:07 am

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

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National Security
11:54 am
Wed June 13, 2012

Once Private, US Now Publicly Criticizes Pakistan

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, shown speaking in India last week, said the U.S. was "reaching the limits of [its] patience" with Pakistan. He is one of several U.S. officials to deliver sharp public criticism of Pakistan recently.
Jim Watson AP

Originally published on Wed June 13, 2012 2:41 pm

How bad are U.S. relations with Pakistan?

Even as ties grew strained over the past few years, U.S. government and military officials generally used diplomatic language when talking about differences with Pakistan. But nowadays the Americans aren't even bothering to disguise their displeasure with their longtime ally.

Several recent events have shown just how blunt the Americans have become.

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National Security
2:58 am
Tue June 12, 2012

As Drone Strikes Grow, So Do Concerns Over Use

An unmanned U.S. Predator drone flies over Kandahar Air Field in southern Afghanistan on Jan. 31, 2010. Drones have become the U.S. weapon of choice in the fight against terrorism. But as the technology of this new form of warfare improves, so do concerns about how others will use it in the future.
Kirsty Wigglesworth AP

Originally published on Tue June 12, 2012 10:28 am

Without question, drones have become the U.S. weapon of choice in the fight against terrorism. Counterterrorism officials say they've come to rely on the pilotless aircraft for their surveillance capability and what officials say is precision targeting. That reliance has led to greater use in the past couple of years, especially in Pakistan and Yemen.

John Bellinger, a State Department legal adviser during the George W. Bush administration, says there are increasing concerns about the frequency of drone attacks.

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World
4:50 pm
Tue June 5, 2012

On Pakistan's 'Sesame Street,' Everything's Not A-OK

Baily the donkey (right) and Munna, characters from the Pakistani version of Sesame Street, perform at the launch ceremony for the show, Sim Sim Hamara, at Rafi Peer Theater Workshop in Lahore, Nov. 26, 2011.
Mohsin Raza Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Tue June 5, 2012 7:53 pm

The U.S. is withdrawing millions of dollars in funding for the Pakistani version of Sesame Street. Officials say the decision stems from serious allegations of fraud directed at the Pakistani theater company that's producing the children's TV program.

Sim Sim Hamara, the Pakistani version of Sesame Street, is set in a mock-up of a typical Pakistani town. There's a school, the ubiquitous Banyan tree, a restaurant and a colorful cast of characters centered on a 6-year-old girl named Rani who loves the sport of cricket.

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Afghanistan
8:39 am
Sun May 20, 2012

NATO Buzzword: 'Sustainment' In Afghanistan

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin. World leaders are gathered in Chicago for a two-day NATO summit, which starts this morning. The summit agenda centers on Afghanistan, specifically figuring out how to meet a 2014 withdrawal deadline while shoring up Afghanistan's security forces. We'll hear a view from the White House in a moment. But we begin with this report from NPR's Jackie Northam in Chicago.

(SOUNDBITE OF PEOPLE CHANTING)

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Europe
3:14 am
Thu May 17, 2012

Not Your Cold War NATO: Alliance To Examine Itself

A NATO soldier aims his weapon during a gun battle in Kabul, Afghanistan, in April. NATO is holding a summit in Chicago this weekend, and discussing the future of the alliance is on the agenda.
Musadeq Sadeq AP

Originally published on Thu May 17, 2012 9:28 am

This weekend, about 60 heads of state and government, and thousands of others will descend on Chicago to attend a NATO summit. The gathering will focus on the alliance's involvement in Afghanistan — and ensuring a long-term commitment to the country.

But the meeting comes at a time of tension within NATO. Discussions will also include the future of NATO itself, and whether it can overcome its shortfalls.

Unilateral Action In Libya

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Middle East
4:22 am
Wed May 9, 2012

Annan Gives Bleak Assessment Of Syrian Ceasefire

Originally published on Wed May 9, 2012 5:04 am

Special envoy Kofi Annan says unacceptable levels of violence and abuse are continuing in Syria. He said military activities have declined somewhat but the level of violence is still too high. Annan warned about the devastating repercussions if the fragile peace plan failed.

Asia
3:30 am
Mon April 30, 2012

Trade, Security On Agenda For Obama, Japan's Noda

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda speaks during a reception at the Japanese Embassy in Washington on Sunday. Noda meets with President Obama at the White House on Monday.
Nicholas Kamm AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon April 30, 2012 10:09 am

President Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda are meeting at the White House on Monday — the first such meeting between U.S. and Japanese leaders in three years.

Political turmoil in Japan has led to a constant turnover in leadership: There have been six prime ministers in as many years.

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