I was arrested in down town Kabul by nervous soldiers for violating a night curfew I was not told about by the receptionist of my hotel who did not speak English. But instead of being driven the next morning to be shot or spend Christmas in prison I found myself in the presence of the one time coup plotter and school teacher President Hafizulla Amin. It soon transpired he was more keen to interview me than being interviewed but little did we know at the time the seismic changes awaiting not just Afghanistan but the whole world until that very day.
I met Mahatir Mohammad, the Prime Minister Of Malaysia, at the top floor of the Abu Dhabi Hilton during a state visit to the UAE in March 1984 and I have followed his fortunes since. If he is really interested in leading the Islamic World then he will have no contenders. If he can achieve a fraction of the success he achieved in his country then the Islamic World and the whole World with it will be a safer and better place for all. Isn’t that what everybody wants, including the Jews?
“You seem to have a bigger name internationally than small Austria”, I asked Bruno Kreisky, the Chancellor Of Austria in December 1981, ” does that worry you?”.
The 70 plus Kreisky looked suddenly very uncomfortable but I never knew for certain whether it was because of the stupid question or the stupid questioner his propaganda assistants cajoled him to meet. One of the greatest black and white politicians of his era.
was warned so I did my homework thoroughly and prepared all the right questions and additional ones to answers I predicted Mrs.. Margaret Thatcher (The Iron Lady, for some) would give to me or to one of my other six colleagues. I looked young and confident and the pool meeting (April 1981 in 10 Downing St. ) was relaxed but when I played the brand new tape recorder in the taxi taking me to my hotel I was shocked. I had inserted the batteries the wrong way and the machine was extremely hot but the tape dead cold.
One of the mysteries of history is how a certain great era produces certain great politicians. The reverse is true but also ironic. Those who succeed great politicians inherit only the shadow and it shows in most things they do. Fred Sinowatz, the successor to Bruno Kreisky, was aware of the predicament but he fended off the impression with a gentle nature.