Frontline World

About the Series


ANNOUNCER:  Tonight on FRONTLINE/WORLD, three stories from a small planet.

In Pakistan, President Musharraf seeks peace with India.

JUGNU MOHSIN, Publisher, "The Friday Times":  Peace is more of a possibility than it's ever been.

ANNOUNCER:  But he faces a nuclear scandal, terrorism and assassins.

EXPERT:  These extremist groups realize that Musharraf is a threat to their own existence and their own beliefs.

ANNOUNCER:  Sharmeen Obaid goes home to Pakistan to see if peace has a chance.

Next, in Kyrgyzstan, an old custom, once banned, now returns.

FATIMA:  My mom wanted me kidnapped by a Kyrgyz boy because she didn't want me to study at the university.

ANNOUNCER:  And finally, in Kenya, runners break records and social barriers.

LORNAH KIPLAGAT:  It's a way of changing the whole lifestyle of women in Kenya.  And you're, like "Wow.  It's possible."

Pakistan: On a Razor's Edge

Reported by: Sharmeen Obaid

SHARMEEN OBAID, Reporter:  [voice-over]  Spring has come to Pakistan.  And for the moment, a gate long closed has been opened.  This is the only train allowed to cross the border from India into Pakistan, bitter enemies for over 50 years.

I've begun this journey at news that India and my home country of Pakistan were cautiously moving towards peace.  I study at university in the United States now, but I wanted to see for myself what this new hope for peace means to people here.

Mrs. Arshaid lives in India.  The difficulties between the two countries left her cut her off from her daughters and her grandchildren living in Pakistan.

[on camera]  [subtitles]  When was the last time you saw them?

Mrs. ARSHAID:  [subtitles]  It's been six years.  They must be all grown up now.

SHARMEEN OBAID:  [voice-over]  She was born in this area before it was separated off from India to become Pakistan.

[on camera]  [subtitles]  Will the problems between Pakistan and India ever be resolved?

Mrs. ARSHAID:  [subtitles]  Everyone prays this will happen, the whole world.  I've prayed for the day that borders would open again.

SHARMEEN OBAID:  [voice-over]  A prayer for peace.  But still, there's tension here, suspicions and caution.  They all carry their stories of painful separation.

That evening, we arrived at our destination of Lahore, in central Pakistan.  This is the meaning of reconciliation.  And it's become possible because of this historic handshake between Pakistan's president, Pervez Musharraf, and India's prime minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee.  Their agreement to set aside differences had happened just a few weeks before I came.

I had come to Lahore for the festival of Basant.  Basant, originally a Hindu holiday, heralds the coming of spring.  But it has long been embraced by Pakistan's Muslims.  It's a celebration of what spring means everywhere- a time of rebirth and renewal.

[on camera]  [subtitles]  Do you think the peace gestures are different this time around?

WOMAN AT FAIR:  [subtitles]  From what I can see, it is different this time.  And there is some determination.

SHARMEEN OBAID:  Do you think they want peace or-

WOMAN AT FAIR:  [subtitles]  Of course!  Who doesn't want peace?  Everyone wants peace.

SHARMEEN OBAID:  [subtitles]  Do you feel that this peace is different?

MAN IN KITE SHOP:  [subtitles]  Only the bureaucracy knows that.  We are just the dumb public.  We do what we're told.

SHARMEEN OBAID:  [voice-over]  But with the hope and skepticism, there's also caution.

MAN AT COUNTER:  [subtitles]  Ask me some other time.  If this interview is aired, we will both be jailed.  This is Pakistan!

SHARMEEN OBAID:  [voice-over]  Pakistan is a country of secrets and paradoxes, still emerging from its recent past - before 9/11 - when it was the Taliban's main supporter.  It's also a country determined to be a part of the modern world.  I'd arrived here at a time of change and hope, but beneath the bustling surface, I know Pakistan is at a dangerous crossroads.

I started by seeing the publisher of The Friday Times newspaper, Jugnu Mohsin.

JUGNU MOHSIN, Publisher, "The Friday Times":  I think that there was an inevitability about what's happening in Pakistan now.  And I may be being very unconventional here, but I'll say to you that 9/11 has been very good for Pakistan.  It's been good for Pakistan because, suddenly, we had to choose which way we wanted to go.  The state decided to dump the Taliban- not a moment too soon, I can tell you as a woman.  Not a moment too soon.  But it's worked out well for Pakistan.  We've seen our economy picking up.  We've seen real estate prices, stock exchange prices, generally, confidence returning to Pakistan.

SHARMEEN OBAID:  [on camera]  Do you think that peace is a reality with India?

JUGNU MOHSIN:  I think peace is more of a possibility now than it's ever been.  And the groundswell of the common people and the hope of the common people is that- you know, we want a better life.  We don't want to fight a thousand-year war with India, not least because both countries are armed with nuclear weapons.

SHARMEEN OBAID:  [voice-over]  This monument commemorates the mountain where Pakistan's first nuclear bomb was tested.  There are monuments like it all over the country, markers of Pakistan's pride in being the only Muslim country to have nuclear weapons.  And our nuclear program was all over the newspapers the week I'd arrived.  The world was horrified to learn that Dr. A.Q. Khan, the father of Pakistan's bomb, had been accused of proliferating nuclear secrets to Iran, Libya and North Korea.  President Musharraf said Khan and his team had done it for personal gain.  And that night-

[February 4, 2004]

Dr. A.Q. KHAN:  My dear brothers and sisters-

SHARMEEN OBAID:    Dr. Khan apologized to the nation.

Dr. A.Q. KHAN:  -to offer my deepest regrets and unqualified apologies to a traumatized nation.  I am aware of the-

SHARMEEN OBAID:  I was surprised he spoke English in a country where most people speak Urdu.  Clearly, this was meant for an audience far beyond Pakistan.

Dr. A.Q. KHAN:  I take full responsibility for my actions and seek your pardon.

SHARMEEN OBAID:  Dr. Khan is a national icon, revered for making the bomb that matched India's nuclear weapon.  I wondered what the reaction would be to his abject apology.

1st MAN AT CAFE:  [subtitles]  I think it was a pre-planned, deliberate move which has only caused harm to Pakistan.

SHARMEEN OBAID:  Some believed that Dr. Khan was taking the fall for others, that it was a conspiracy.  Others were uncomfortable even talking about the nuclear issue in public.  And it was unusual to hear these two young men openly criticize Dr. Khan.

2nd MAN AT CAFE:  [subtitles]  Nuclear leaks are wrong.  Dr. Qadeer Khan is a great scientist, but what he did was wrong.  He's a very good scientist, but he shouldn't have committed this act.  He's a national treasure.  He commands our respect and is our hero.

SHARMEEN OBAID:  People from all across the political spectrum turned out to show their support for Dr. Khan.  The public believed their hero had been sold out by his own government and by President Musharraf.  Musharraf called a press conference to respond to criticism in the newspapers.

Pres. PERVEZ MUSHARRAF:  "Musharraf named in nuclear probe."  This is news to me.

SHARMEEN OBAID:  Interestingly, he chose to wear his combat fatigues.  President and General Musharraf took power in a 1999 military coup, and he defended his own.

Pres. PERVEZ MUSHARRAF:  [subtitles]  No government official, no military man, was involved.

SHARMEEN OBAID:  Musharraf has built alliances with conservative Islamic parties, but he's also called a progressive, who's become America's most important ally in the war against terrorism.

Pres. PERVEZ MUSHARRAF:  [subtitles]  America is not pressuring me.  No one is telling me what to do.

SHARMEEN OBAID:  Then he ended his speech by pardoning Dr. Khan.

Pres. PERVEZ MUSHARRAF:  [subtitles]  And I, as president of Pakistan, have made a decision to pardon Dr. Khan because he is our national hero.

SHARMEEN OBAID:  A move widely viewed as putting a lid on further investigations.

AHMED RASHID, Journalist:  It's impossible, even if you think about it in the most naive way, that one man or three or four people could have carried out such acts of proliferation over 27 years involving weapons, technology, missiles, everything under the sun.

SHARMEEN OBAID:  Ahmed Rashid is a well-known journalist and critic of the government.

AHMED RASHID:  I mean, you know, the simple fact is when we're talking about a barter deal with North Korea - nuclear materials from Pakistan, nuclear technology from Pakistan, in exchange for missile technology- now, Qadeer Khan has no use for missiles.  I mean, the army needs the missiles.  So when we're talking about a barter deal with North Korea, I think it's fairly obvious who gets to benefit from it.  The military had to be involved.  And General Beg I'm sure was involved.

SHARMEEN OBAID:  General Aslam Beg was army chief in the late '80s, the man in charge of the military in the midst of Khan's proliferation activities.  I was surprised to land an interview with the former general at his home in the city of Rawalpindi.  He'd been facing a barrage of questions and was under a lot of pressure.

Gen. ASLAM BEG, Fmr. Military Chief:  Please proceed with your question.

SHARMEEN OBAID:  [on camera]  It's been said that, and allegations have been made, that you knew about the nuclear proliferation.  Why do you think that you haven't been arrested till now?

Gen. ASLAM BEG:  Just to disappoint you.  And many, my American friends and their stooges here in Pakistan, they still want to see me behind bars for sins which I have not committed.  And I am very confident that nobody can harm me because I have committed no crime.  If my government was not aware, how could I be aware?  The Americans had been monitoring our program for the last 15 years.  They should have told us.  They are also a party to the crime.  It's part of the conspiracy to destabilize Pakistan.

SHARMEEN OBAID:  [voice-over]  His conspiratorial accusations against the Americans raised important questions.  Why had America's response been so muted?  And why was India so quiet about it, as well?  It seemed to many as if Musharraf was being protected from both.

[ More about the reporter]

I'd come to visit a man who really knows the secrets here.


SHARMEEN OBAID:  [on camera]  Hello.  I've come for the interview with General Gul.


SHARMEEN OBAID:  [voice-over]  But I hadn't bargained for the conspiracy he would lay out.  General Hameed Gul was our spymaster, the head of Pakistan's Intelligence agency, the ISI before 9/11, when Pakistan was openly the Taliban's biggest supporter.  When the nuclear program was going strong, Gul had been one of the most powerful men in Pakistan.

[on camera]  It's been said in some news reports that the Pakistan army knew about the nuclear proliferation.

Gen. HAMEED GUL, Fmr. Intelligence Chief:  No, no, no.  That's not- this is incorrect.  This is fibbing.  This is speculation.  And I think this is the Western interests which are spreading these rumors.  No, Pakistan army could not have because it was never our policy to proliferate.

SHARMEEN OBAID:  [voice-over]  Gul firmly believes that the United States wants to dismantle Pakistan's nuclear arsenal.  And it's not just the U.S.

[on camera]  Do you think that the United States has designs on our nuclear arsenal?

Gen. HAMEED GUL:  [subtitles]  Oh, yes.  They have.  Israel have.  They have because they have been trained to act in a certain way and the Jewish lobbies control them, and since Israel will simply not see Pakistan a powerful nuclear country, or any Muslim country, for that matter.  Islam is the target.  Islam is the new enemy.  Islam is the challenge.  So they need Pakistan at this moment.  They need President Musharraf.  But that doesn't mean that they are going to abdicate the objective of de-nuclearizing Pakistan.

SHARMEEN OBAID:  [voice-over]  What's important about General Gul is that his deep anti-Americanism and all its paranoia is so widespread, especially in the military and intelligence services.  These are the forces that Musharraf has to keep contained.  More and more, the nuclear scandal felt like a Pandora's box.  Who knows what would happen to Pakistan if it were ever opened?

I set out for the Northwest Frontier of Pakistan to find out what one of President Musharraf's unlikely allies had to say.  He's also one of his strongest critics.  Sami ul Haq is a senator and a founding member of Pakistan's most powerful fundamentalist political movement.  Among his old friends is Osama bin Laden.

SAMI UL HAQ:  [subtitles]  Osama has got such a good character.  All his enemies have made him look like a beast.  I have not met him for some time now.  It's not possible to meet him under these circumstances.

SHARMEEN OBAID:  Sami ul Haq is certainly no friend to America, and he sees no problem in Pakistan sharing its nuclear knowledge with other Islamic countries.

SAMI UL HAQ:  [subtitles]  If we gave information to Iran, what's the crime?  If we gave it to Libya, then what's the crime?  If Europe shares this technology, it's the duty of all Muslims to share their technology.  Surreptitiously, America has forged such an elaborate scheme to strip Pakistan of its nuclear technology.  Americans have found a great opportunity in Pervez Musharraf.  They will agree to discard all issues on the condition that we assist them in the spring operation.

SHARMEEN OBAID:  The "spring operation" is a massive effort by the Pakistani army to hunt down bin Laden and al Qaeda in the tribal areas, planned and coordinated with the United States.

SAMI UL HAQ:  [subtitles]  They will carry on their military exercises and leave our border in shambles.  They want Muslims to be tied up like goats and sheep so that they can slaughter us at their will.  Why doesn't President Musharraf understand that this all part of their plot?

SHARMEEN OBAID:  President Musharraf is caught between the demands of fundamentalists at home and his promise to the West to fight terrorism.

Pres. PERVEZ MUSHARRAF:  [United Nations address]  I believe the way forward is to adopt a two-pronged strategy, a double pincer to build harmony, promote moderation, oppose extremism and ensure justice.

AHMED RASHID, Journalist:  Musharraf is under enormous pressure.  There's no doubt about it.  He's seen as toeing the American line, making peace with India, blaming the scientists for this nuclear proliferation.  He's tried to play this balancing act since 9/11.  He's tried to satisfy the West, the United States, the liberal critique inside Pakistan, and he's also tried to satisfy the fundamentalists.  And I think, you know, all these chickens are coming home to roost now.

SHARMEEN OBAID:  In December, explosives ripped this bridge apart just seconds after Musharraf's car passed over it.  Then, two weeks later, someone tried to kill him again.

[on camera]  We're on the road on which President Musharraf's second assassination attempt took place.  And one of the cars came out from this petrol station and the second one came out from the one further down.

[voice-over]  He was on his way home on Christmas Day when two cars filled with explosives rammed into Musharraf's motorcade, signaled by someone within his own security force.  Fourteen people died and over forty were injured.

Pres. PERVEZ MUSHARRAF:  [subtitles]  Although a lot of debris rained down on me, again, by God's grace, nothing happened to me and we were able to get away.

SHARMEEN OBAID:  Just hours after the blast, a visibly shaken Musharraf appeared on national TV.

Pres. PERVEZ MUSHARRAF:  [subtitles]  They are hurting Islam and Muslim countries.

[ Read about Musharraf's dilemmas]

SHARMEEN OBAID:  Many say he emerged more determined than ever to shut down extremists inside Pakistan.

[subtitles]  Were you here during the bomb blast?

1st WITNESS:  [subtitles]  It all happened in front of us.  I was over there buying fruit.  It was a huge blast, with tremors felt in all directions.  If something unfortunate had happened to him, there is no one else with enough courage to take over leadership of the country.

SHARMEEN OBAID:  [subtitles]  Why does someone want to kill him?

1st WITNESS:  [subtitles]  Not everyone agrees with him.  Only a religious extremist could do this.

2nd WITNESS:  [subtitles]  I don't think it's right to blindly blame the religious groups.  We can't just claim they did it.  How do we really know?  Musharraf may be a good man, but our religious parties are not evil doers.  They are the torchbearers of Islamic values.

SHARMEEN OBAID:  [voice-over]  Their arguments reflected the heart of the struggle going on within Pakistan, the struggle between the progressive Islamic majority and a fundamentalist minority whose influence reaches far beyond their numbers.  And some hard-line extremists are actively targeting Musharraf.

In the rubble of the second blast, investigators found one bomber's cell phone with the memory chip still intact.  The phone numbers on it linked the bomber to one of Pakistan's militant Kashmiri jihadi groups, tied to al Qaeda, who are fighting inside Indian-held Kashmir, the disputed, mostly Muslim region that both countries claim as their own and site of bloody battles for its control.

But Kashmir is not just the cause of extremists.  It's a deeply felt issue, embedded in Pakistan's identity.  There's even a national holiday called Kashmir Day.  That's an effigy of Indian prime minister Vajpayee.

But there are thousands of jihadi militants doing a lot more than protesting. They've been infiltrating Indian-held Kashmir, fighting what the Pakistan government has called a "proxy war" against India.  Now, with Musharraf's peace initiatives with India, he's publicly labeled hard-line Kashmir jihadis as terrorists.  Their groups are now banned and the jihadis forced underground.

[on camera]  I'm going to meet a member of an outlawed Kashmiri fighting group who has agreed to meet me and speak with me.  The only condition is that it has to be in a secret location.

[voice-over]  Our talk began with an agreement to not name his organization and also to cover my arms.

JIHADI:  [subtitles]  In Kashmir, I witnessed the cruelty, the torture.  I saw it with my own eyes.  Hindu extremist groups can come into Kashmir.  They commit mass murder of Muslims.  They loot, rape Muslim women, set our homes on fire!  Are these not acts of terrorism?  In Indian eyes, it is not!

SHARMEEN OBAID:  There are accusations of atrocities on both sides- Muslim against Hindu, Hindu against Muslim.  But he insists that those in his group are not terrorists.

JIHADI:  [subtitles]  What terrorism?  We are not terrorists.  We are fighting a war for the liberation of Kashmir.

SHARMEEN OBAID:  [on camera]  [subtitles]  The two recent attacks on President Musharraf's life, are they not the acts of jihadi groups?

JIHADI:  [subtitles]  There are two groups involved.  One is RAW [India's secret service] and the other is Israel's Mossad.  We don't do these kinds of things, neither before, nor shall we ever.

SHARMEEN OBAID:  [voice-over]  I asked him if he could ever accept a negotiated settlement for Kashmir.

JIHADI:  [subtitles]  We are connected to the Kashmiris by blood.  Our every drop of blood is dedicated to the Kashmiri struggle.

SHARMEEN OBAID:  I left worried that the chances for peace were more fragile than I'd thought.  What chance do peace agreements have in the face of this level of conviction?  And there are thousands more just like him, ready to die for this cause.

To the west of Kashmir, the spring offensive will unleash its hunt for bin Laden.  Spring could bring yet more trouble to my country and to President Musharraf.  The pressure is on him to keep all these forces in balance.  And whatever anyone thinks of the job he's doing, it's hard to imagine the trouble that would come without him.

Back in Lahore, Basant was still going strong, filled with the hope and promise of spring.

This is the border crossing with India, just outside Lahore.  Every day, there's an elaborate ceremony here.  Crowds gather on both sides of the border to watch the changing of the guard, Pakistan's soldiers in dark green and India's in khaki brown.  Over time, it's become a ritualized shadow play of the intense cold war the two countries have been fighting for more than 50 years.

But on this day I saw something different.  For the first time, they shook hands.  And the crowd broke out in cheers.  On both sides.

ANNOUNCER:  Later tonight, in Kenya, the fastest long-distance runners in the world.

But first, in Central Asia, young women struggle with an old tradition.

Kyrgyzstan: The Kidnapped Bride

Reported by: Petr Lom

PETR LOM, Reporter:  [voice-over]  For centuries, Kyrgyzstan was a remote outpost along the great silk road to China.  Under Soviet rule, few Westerners came here, but now it's slowly opening up to the world.  My friend, Fatima, was born here.  She grew up near the capital, but now she's taking me deep into the country, to a small village just outside the ancient city of Osh.  A wedding is about to get under way here.  The groom is nervous but hopeful.

GROOM:  [subtitles]  I went to several girls but had no luck.  One seemed to agree, the other refused.  Nobody wanted me.  This one will stay.

PETR LOM:  The guests wait hours for the bride to arrive.

NORKUZ:  [subtitles]  Leave me alone!

PETR LOM:  Finally, at around 10:00 at night, she is hustled into the house.

NORKUZ:  [voice-over]  Get away from me!

PETR LOM:  The bride's name is Norkuz.

NORKUZ:  [subtitles]  I won't stay!

PETR LOM:  She's been kidnapped from her home about a mile away.  Fatima had warned me the practice was shocking, but I still couldn't believe what I was seeing.

WOMAN:  [subtitles]  We were all kidnapped.

PETR LOM:  The groom and a handful of his friends spent the day looking for a bride before they settled on Norkuz.  Now it's the women of the groom's family who try to get the wedding scarves on her.  When the kidnappers came to Norkuz's house, they negotiated with her brother.  But now Norkuz's sister, a lawyer from Osh, is upset about it.

SISTER:  [subtitles]  Don't force her!

PETR LOM:  She says that Norkuz was dating another man and was expecting him to propose any day.  She tells Fatima she's angry that her sister is being forced to marry a stranger.

SISTER:  [subtitles]  She did not know of him.  I don't know if Norkuz likes him or not.

PETR LOM:  Ideally, a bride's family commands a bride price, but at 25, Norkuz is considered old not to be married.

After about an hour, Norkuz's resistance begins to wear down.  Tradition says that once the bride accepts the wedding scarves, it's settled and the wedding can go forward.

FATIMA:  Norkuz was already 25.  She was happy getting married.  She was resisting, but they were saying, like, "Come on.  We all came this way."  In those women's eyes, I saw the kind of attitude here, "Come on.  I know everybody resists.  It's a custom."

PETR LOM:  Fatima wasn't that surprised that Norkuz stayed, but I was.  We returned to Norkuz's new house a few days later to see how she was doing.

NORKUZ:  [subtitles]  I couldn't marry my true love.  Only one in a hundred Kyrgyz girls marries her true love.  Our life is about kidnapping, accepting and living on.  Don't film me!  After the kidnapping, you've no choice.  You start loving, even if you don't want to.

GROOM:  [subtitles]  We're happy.  Keep visiting and we'll be happier.

PETR LOM:  The origins of bride kidnapping are murky.  Some say Kyrgyz men used to snatch their brides on horseback.  Now they use cars.  And if a villager doesn't have a car, he hires a taxi for the day.

[ More on bride kidnapping]

Fatima asks these taxi drivers if they've heard of any kidnappings.  One says he helped snatch a girl a few hours ago.  They all agree that kidnappings usually happen on the weekend.

During Soviet times, bride kidnapping was banned.  But in the 10 years or so since Kyrgyzstan became independent, the practice has come back, especially outside the cities.

Jumankul is 19 years old, and his parents are pressuring him to marry.  He's got a girl in mind.

JUMANKUL:  [subtitles]  I'll kidnap her today, by evening.  There will be three of us.  We live in the mountains, so I need to marry.

FATIMA:  [subtitles]  Do you like her?  Why?

JUMANKUL:  [subtitles]  She'll milk cows.

MAN'S VOICE:  [subtitles]  You'll get wet.

PETR LOM:  On the afternoon of the kidnapping, Jumankul's parents start to celebrate.

FATHER:  [subtitles]  We can't afford the bride's hand.

FATIMA:  [subtitles]  So you're kidnapping her?

FATHER:  [subtitles]  They wanted too much money.

MOTHER:  [subtitles]  I need a bride to tend sheep.

PETR LOM:  Jumankul's father is excited about the kidnapping, but it's his mother who's really going to benefit from the extra help.

MOTHER:  [subtitles]  We'll kidnap.  We're ready for her.  We have money and a car.

TAXI DRIVER:  [subtitles]  We're going to Osh city.  Jumankul likes a girl there.

PETR LOM:  In the city, Jumankul goes looking for the girl he likes.  He's heard she works in the Osh bazaar.  Meanwhile, his friends try to get information about her at a vodka stand.

ULAN:  [subtitles]  Tell me her address.

GIRL:  [subtitles]  Whose address?

PETR LOM:  Suspecting a kidnapping, the girl doesn't want to give up her friend's address.

GIRL:  [subtitles]  Find it yourself.  I don't know where she lives.

PETR LOM:  Jumankul can't find the girl he came for.  He and his friends don't want to return home empty-handed, so just before we leave them that night, they consider a new plan, kidnapping the girl at the vodka stand.

JUMANKUL:  [subtitles]  I liked her, her looks.  I couldn't get close.  She'd be suspicious.

FATIMA:  [subtitles]  Do you know her name?

PETR LOM:  The next morning, Fatima and I return to the vodka stand.

FATIMA:  [subtitles]  Where's the girl who was here yesterday?

GIRL:  [subtitles]  She was kidnapped.  That's the rumor.

FATIMA:  [subtitles]  Is she ever late?

GIRL:  [subtitles]  Never.

WOMAN:  [subtitles]  You'll stay.  We'll bring your parents.

PETR LOM:  Her name is Ainagul.  She's been at Jumankul's house for more than 10 hours by the time we get there.

ULAN:  [subtitles]  We followed her last night and kidnapped her.

PETR LOM:  Jumankul's older brother says Ainagul's parents have already agreed to the kidnapping, but Ainagul is putting up a strong fight.

WOMAN:  [subtitles]  Cry all you want.  You'll wear it.

PETR LOM:  Ainagul is 17.  She left her village a month ago to make a life in the city and perhaps to get a degree.  She doesn't want to live in the mountains with Jumankul.

AINAGUL:  [subtitles]  I won't live with him.

WOMAN:  [subtitles]  You will.  You'll never go.  They're all watching you.

PETR LOM:  To finally get the wedding scarves on Ainagul's head, the women step up the pressure.  As Ainagul continues to resist, we're told to stop filming.

A few minutes later, to our surprise, Ainagul is free to go.  Later, the women curse Ainagul, saying her child will be a drunk and her mother-in-law will be cruel.

WOMAN:  [subtitles]  She'll go hungry.  She didn't obey.  She'll never be happy.

PETR LOM:  We found Ainagul a few weeks later, living with relatives in Osh, still shaken from the experience.

AINAGUL:  [subtitles]  Because of what people say, you think you should stay.  But no one lives your life.  You build your own future.  Follow others and you'll be unhappy.  I'd have lived in the mountains and tended sheep.  I'd be a sheep, too.  I'd be wasting my life.

PETR LOM:  The town of Balykchy is at the other end of the country from Osh.  This is where Fatima grew up.  Her mother is still a school teacher here.  One afternoon, Fatima asked her about bride kidnapping.

FATIMA'S MOTHER:  [subtitles]  It's a bad phenomenon.  But we still follow Kyrgyz customs. Though we want to stop violence against women and support gender rights, we still practice bride kidnapping.  My parents blindly followed the custom during Soviet times, as well.

PETR LOM:  Fatima's mother was kidnapped herself.  It was an unhappy marriage, but until very recently, she said, she planned to have Fatima kidnapped, as well.

FATIMA:  I had an American boyfriend, and still my mom wanted me to be kidnapped by a Kyrgyz boy because from the very beginning, she didn't want me to study at the university, so she just wanted me to go back to the village and marry a Kyrgyz boy and have babies and make bread.

FATIMA'S MOTHER:  [subtitles]  If my daughter was kidnapped by a man I didn't want or she hadn't dated, of course I'd suffer, but I wouldn't go against it because it's in our blood, Kyrgyz women's blood.  It's a custom, a mentality, that bride kidnapping is normal for us.

PETR LOM:  Fatima was not kidnapped.  Last summer, she married the man of her choice, an instructor at the American university.

FATIMA:  I realized how lucky I am, that these girls, they don't have any opportunity.  The only way for them to be treated as an equal member of the society is just to get married.

PETR LOM:  Fatima escaped, but many Kyrgyz girls are not so lucky.  Just a week before we arrived, one girl in her mother's high school class was involved in a kidnapping that went very wrong.

MOTHER:  [subtitles]  Kyal was kidnapped.  They took her in a car.  They said they were classmates.  We brought her body home.  They told us she killed herself.  She'd never do that.  What happened is a mystery.

PETR LOM:  Kyal was snatched from outside her home.  Four days later, her father retrieved her body from a village a few hours away.  She'd hanged herself.

FATHER:  [subtitles]  I'll tell you what I think.  I think they kidnapped her and she refused to stay.  Maybe she resisted and was raped.  So she hanged herself.

PETR LOM:  No one knows what happened, and the kidnapper's family says they did nothing wrong.  But Kyal's father is pushing for an investigation.

FATHER:  [subtitles]  She killed herself, but they had broken the law.  Instead of an investigation, they ruled it a suicide.  I only have her body.

PETR LOM:  Since 1994, bride kidnapping has been illegal in Kyrgyzstan, but the law is almost never enforced.  In one of the poorest countries in Central Asia, bride kidnapping is not high on the agenda for reform.

Near the end of our filming, Fatima and I witnessed a kidnapping firsthand.  It was hard, especially for Fatima.  She talked to the girl off and on for hours.  And in the end, the girl was let go.  The groom, Ulan, kidnapped another girl the next day and she stayed.  They'd been married for four months when we caught up with them at their new home in the city.

WIFE:  [subtitles]  I have a husband.  Before I got married, I was alone.  Now I have someone to take care of and to dream with.

ULAN:  [subtitles]  She's two months pregnant.

PETR LOM:  Fatima told me she felt torn.  She was against bride kidnapping and hoped the practice would change.  And yet, as we left Ulan and his wife, Fatima felt something else that was much more complicated to explain.  This couple seemed happy.

ANNOUNCER:  Finally tonight, in Kenya, women running for their lives.

Kenya: Run, Lornah, Run

Reported by: Alexis Bloom

ALEXIS BLOOM, Reporter:  [voice-over]  The farming town of Iten, in the northwest highlands of Kenya, perches 8,000 feet above sea level.  Iten is like any other Kenyan village, except for one thing.  The people here, the Kalenjin tribe, are some of the best runners in the world.

Kenya holds more records in long-distance running than any other country.  Kenyan men have been competing internationally since the 1960s.  Women, until recently, have been sidelined.  Now, breaking with tradition, more and more women train to become professional runners.

We came to Kenya to meet these new athletes, to see an unusual training camp for women, the only one in the country.

RUTH CHEBBI:  We are lucky in this area because we have a ladies' camp.

ALEXIS BLOOM:  Just a few years old, this high-altitude camp attracts talent from villages all over the highlands.  This is where they start to shine.

RUTH CHEBBI:  If you train at home, you cannot get time to train like that.  You can go to the river.  You fetch water.  You go for firewood, struggling hard.  But here, only your work is to go for training.  After training, you can relax, concentrating only for your training.

ALEXIS BLOOM:  The camp provides for those without shoes or a tracksuit, three meals a day, the freedom to run, and the chance to succeed.  The camp was started by one of Kenya's most famous runners, Lornah Kiplagat.

Lornah caught the world's attention when she won the L.A. marathon back to back in 1997 and '98.  She's broken four world records, and broken social barriers, too.

LORNAH KIPLAGAT:  I think what I've shown them, the girls, is I've given them a lot of courage because without courage, you can't stand and talk.  "Yeah, Lornah did it.  Why not us?"

ALEXIS BLOOM:  Lornah's training in New Mexico for the Olympics.  She built her camp in Kenya race by race, funded entirely by her prize money.  Lornah's created an oasis outside the strict defines of traditional roles.

LORNAH KIPLAGAT:  [subtitles]  Take care that the house is clean.  Take care that the farms are digged.  Take care that the lunch is ready.  Take care that the laundry is ready.  Take care that the cows have their own food.  And take care that your husband has food.  That's our life, every day, throughout, 365 days.

[ Read the full interview]

ALEXIS BLOOM:  People didn't think this village girl's career - or her camp - would last.

LORNAH KIPLAGAT:  And they would say, "Forget about Lornah.  She is too busy building up camps for women in Africa."  But I'll tell you, since the moment I started to build up the camp in Kenya, I won every race I entered.  But still, they think I'm crazy anyway, so- I don't mind.

ALEXIS BLOOM:  Lornah's camp has changed the lives of many young athletes in Kenya.  Twenty-five-year-old Nancy Kiprop is the most recent arrival.  Nancy's goal is to make the Kenyan National Team.

NANCY KIPROP:  Here women run to stop asking your husband each and every day, "Give me something.  I need to buy this. I need that,"  because as women, we have some other things that maybe men - we don't like men to know.  Maybe I run, I get my own money, I am free.  I can get whatever I want.  Yeah.

ALEXIS BLOOM:  Another woman we met was Ruth Chebbi.  Her mother raised eight children alone.

RUTH CHEBBI:  I hope to be a good runner in future.  I get my own properties, so that I can be independent of myself, not depending on my parents.

ALEXIS BLOOM:  Nancy invited us back to her village, a two-hour drive along bumpy tracks skirting the edge of the Great Rift Valley.  At home, Nancy has a husband and a baby named Victor.

NANCY KIPROP:  The biggest challenge now, as a runner and being a woman, is maybe the burden of bringing up children, and at the same time taking up the career of being an athlete.

ALEXIS BLOOM:  [on camera]  You don't remember?  She's been training for so long.

NANCY KIPROP:  So that's a great challenge.

ALEXIS BLOOM:  [voice-over]  Seven people live in this two-room house.  Pictures of champions adorn the walls.  Nancy's husband is the rare Kenyan man.  He cares for their child and lets Nancy run.

[on camera]  Do you feel proud of Nancy when she's running?

HUSBAND:  [subtitles]  Sure, I am very proud.  Yeah.

ALEXIS BLOOM:  So it's OK with you that she will run and you look after Victor at home?

HUSBAND:  Yeah.  It's difficult to refuse somebody to go with this talent.  That's a gift from God.  Who am I?  Am I God?  I'm not God.  Let somebody go and use their talent.

ALEXIS BLOOM:  [voice-over]  Back in Iten on a rainy Saturday, it was the first qualifying round for the national team.  People speculate wildly about why Kenyans are such good runners, but Nancy believes running is just a way of life.

NANCY KIPROP:  Why Kenyans are running so fast?  Because our schools were located very far away from our homes.  You run very many kilometers away from your home, maybe six kilometers.  You run lunchtime, then you come back six kilometers again.  And then you go back to school for classes, evening classes.  And evening, you come back again.  So we used to run, run, run in order not to miss the lessons.

ALEXIS BLOOM:  For Nancy and Ruth, both running today, there's much at stake.  A top runner can win thousands per race, huge rewards when over half of Kenyans live on less than a dollar a day.  The winners of this 8K race will move one step closer to the national team.

[on camera]  Go Nancy!  Come on Ruth!  Nancy's just been overtaken.  But it's really, it's neck and neck.

[voice-over]  Running with the best in the district, Nancy places third, qualifying to move on.  Ruth comes in sixth, also qualifying, but just barely.

RUTH CHEBBI:  I have some worries about my future, if I cannot train hard.  So I have to struggle hard because if I have nothing, what kind of a life am I going to live?  So I am worrying about my future.

ALEXIS BLOOM:  Back at the camp, Ruth struggles to keep up, while Nancy pushes forward.

NANCY KIPROP:  To run, you have to sweat.  You will not win if you will not sweat.  You have to sweat because you have to train hard to win easily.

LORNAH KIPLAGAT:  The girls will not all make it.  The girls at the camp, for sure, not all of them have good talent for running.  But the good part of the story is they have talent for something else, so that at the end, it's not only about running, it's a way of changing the whole lifestyle of women in Kenya.  At the end, all of a sudden, you see a different face, a different life.  And you're, like, "Wow.  It's possible."  Yeah.




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ANNOUNCER:  There's more of the world to explore on our Web site, including interviews with leading Pakistani political figures on the pressures facing Musharraf; a photo essay of life in Kyrgyzstan; a chance to step into the shoes of a Kenyan woman runner in an on-line game, and a guide for teachers.  Discuss the world and tell us what you think of our Stories From a Small Planet at

Next time on FRONTLINE:

VOICE:  Everybody knew what was happening in Rwanda.

ANNOUNCER:  They watched while nearly a million people were slaughtered.

VOICE:  It made no difference what you said or how you said it, the world just didn't care.

ANNOUNCER:  They watched while the world looked away.

VOICE:  When the genocide was over, I was so angry at America- America the beautiful, America the brave.


ANNOUNCER:  Ten years later, why are they still haunted by The Ghosts of Rwanda?  Next time on FRONTLINE.

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