Read through archived FRONTLINE/World
conversations around this story, including responses from
Zainab Fazalbhoy - Houston, Texas
What can I Say, Ms.Obaid, you & Frontline did an amazing
job of showing the world the "real" Pakistan. I loved the
sights, the one-on-one interviews, the unbiased and utterly
refreshing outlook that put a human face on the people of
a country that has been portrayed negatively and stereotypically
by the media for so long. I look forward to viewing more
of your work, good luck & God bless!
Fahd Chinoy - Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Sharmeen Obaid was brilliant. She has the potential to continue
providing insight on issues the American public is completely
unaware of. I salute her for her efforts.
Bapsi Sidhwa - Houston, Texas
As an American citizen of Pakistani origins, I congratulate
Sharmeen Obaid for presenting an engaging, astute and informative
documentary. The multiplicity of views reflected by a wide
range of people permitted an impressive honesty and I appreciated
it that she did not impose her interpretations on what was
said. The concise and accurate English subtitles also helped
in this regard. It is remarkable that Ms. Obaid managed
to interview so many of the key figures in today's Pakistan.
PBS and Frontline are to be congratulated for making the
documentary possible and for funding it. It will go some
ways to clear the prevalent misconceptions about Pakistan.
I hope it will be aired again.
Richard Weinstock - Ventura, California
Sharmeen Obaid's report on Pakistan was television journalism
at its finest. It's hard to believe that so much information
on the complexities of Pakistan politics and culture were
fit into such a short time span. The presentation was also
riveting. My only complaint is that the report should have
at least filled the hour as I'm sure much had to be left
out. On the other hand, next two reports on bride kidnapping
and the Kenyan runners were also fascinating. So, my hope
is that FRONTLINE/World will expand to 2 hours and that
it will be aired a 2nd time during the month so the public
has more opportunity to see these fine presentations.
Rajni Shankar - Washington, D.C.
What a brave young woman Ms Obaid is ! If only Pakistan
(and India) were populated with more like her and less like
the cowardly males who use their military uniforms as macho
props and skulk in the shadows spouting hate, paranoia and
violence, we could enjoy peace.
R. Jeremy - Austin, Texas
There is a sense of progress in the Indian-Pakistan dialogue,
because both sides are starting to accept! Acceptance/understanding
of each side's position is what starts a peace process.
This can take several decades. If the Indians and Pakistanis
can focus on their cultural similarities (and they are too
numerous to mention here), and ignore that one item that
keeps them apart (religion) then I'm confident they will
find a solution for Kashmir, and their border dispute. Just
don't let one facet of life destroy everything else. That
is called fanaticism, and we don't need that.
Udaya Bhaskar - New York, New
Like in any other part of the world where people are fighting
with each other in the matters of their borders and religions,
it's the politicians and religious heads who have divided
India and Pakistan and lead the nations into wars and hating
each other. The hate on both sides is built to such heights
[that] they don't bother about the reason[s], et al. People
who have lived like brothers just before 400 years are ready
to smash each other with nuclear bombs today. Looking at
the past, it is hard to believe both the heads of nations.
It's time to wait and see how far they go wholeheartedly
to bring peace. Musharraf seems determined to fight against
fundamentalists. It may cost [him] his life, but there will
be a page dedicated to him in the history of peace if he
can achieve victory against terrorists. On the side of India,
even the Indian prime minister should ease his folks' (they
are fundamentalists too) and see that brotherhood feeling
will develop among Indians. The recent incidents against
Muslims in India are so heinous, that [they] will definitely
hurt Pakistanis and make them suspect Indian peace process.
The current generations on both sides know nothing about
the cultures of other. Indians knows nothing of a Sufi whirling
or Pakistanis know nothing of a Tantra practice. They are
all completely engaged in their dubious patriotisms and
destructive war heroisms. A serious effort should be made
to build up these gaps.
And Ms.Obaid. What to say about
a woman journalist doing such a great job? I wish her all
[the] good luck and great achievements in future...
Karim Khan - Lahore, Pakistan
The documentary was good but one thing you left out is the
reason for hostility against India and that is Kashmir.
You made Kashmir look like a problem that Pakistan created.
India cheated Pakistan out of Kashmir and to this day brutally
repressed them. Kashmiris are fighting Indians, not Pakistanis.
Why did you show Pakistan as the villain on Kashmir? As
a Pakistani do you not believe that Kashmir belongs rightfully
Vikram D. Mello - New York, New
Hearty congratulations to Ms. Obaid for an exceedingly well
put-together, brave, incisive and revealing look into our
two nations (I'm from India) as they forge their way towards
true peace with trepidation. These kinds of discussions
and honest expositions of reality (or the semblance of reality
at least), are not just useful, but imperative in positively
influencing the opinions and views of not just Pakistanis
and Indians, but of the West as well.
Rahul Mehta - Detroit, Michigan
Hi! First of all my hearty thanks to Sharmeen Obaid and
[the] team of PBS who made this story possible. It's so
nice to see some[one] actually taking so much pain and challenges
to let the world know the real story. Many people including
myself have often been mislead by faulty media but I think
what Sharmeen has [done] is worth noting. Being from India
I think I can appreciate the kind of values Pakistani people
have for us. I only want to further add to what Sharmeen's
documentary has shown[;] the people in India feel the same
as the people in Pakistan and they have [a]lot of love and
affection for our neighbor across the border. The only problem
is that because of [a] handful of people the whole country
[has been portrayed] as against each other. So thanks once
again for such an incredible job. I request to forward the
message to Sharmeen too as she deserves a lot of accolade[s]
for her work. Keep up the good work, Rahul
Subramanyam Sridharan - Chennai,
Musharraf's best course of action would be to take the most
righteous course at this juncture.
From its inception, Pakistan has
engaged in deception and subterfuge to carry out its only
state agenda which was and remains an obsession with India.
In its quest to attain an impractical political and military
parity with India, it engaged in activities that eventually
brought doom for itself. Its membership in SEATO/CENTO,
siding with the Western powers in the Suez canal episode
and later the Israeli conflict, its Afghanistan policy,
the virulent anti-India propaganda in OIC and various international
fora, its willingness to let itself be used by the US, China
and other countries, its support for terrorism and jihadism,
its quest for nuclear weapons and missiles, the [I]slamization
of a professional army inherited from the British, the efforts
to disown the inseparable Indic heritage and identify with
an alien Arab culture, the paramountcy of the military in
State affairs have all been driven by the singular desire
to keep the hostility to India simmering for ever.
That is why if Musharraf is sincere
about leading Pakistan out of this morass, he has to make
a complete about-turn. This is not easy since the Pakistani
masses have been brought up on a staple diet of hatred for
India and the Hindus, starting from school textbooks to
the media. But, an effort needs to be made and that should
receive the support from all quarters. What does not, however,
inspire confidence is that he wants to ride two horses at
once and somehow hopes that he would be able to do that.
I agree with you that President Musharraf needs to decide
who to support, he cannot support the West while supporting
radical Islamic parties. But it is easier said than done,
and I know from being in Pakistan that he cannot do an
about turn immediately. There have been 2 serious attempts
on his life and countless other ones and he knows that
he has to handle jihadi organizations and radical Islamic
parties delicately. In all honesty, he is trying. He has
banned jihadi organizations and his government is trying
to change the madrassa (Islamic religious schools) system
of education. But he needs time to do so and the support
of the west as well as India is very crucial to him right
Aamir Ali - Peshawar, Pakistan
Mr Sridharan, you yourself sound like a brainwashed person,
constantly spewing the hatred that has been taught in
your textbooks. Pakistan's only beef with India is Kashmir,
otherwise they don’t care about anything else about
India. You will notice when the Indian cricket team and
visitors came on the recent tour, they were treated warmly
and respectfully. How can Pakistan,a nation that you claim
as haters of Hindus, suddenly change like that? The answer
is that remove Kashmir, and Pakistanis don’t have
any problems with Indians. However I have noticed that
Indians have HUGE problems with Pakistanis in particular
and Islam in general.
Peter Anderson - LaGrange, Georgia
For the near term, the potential for a radical leadership
to emerge in Pakistan, Islamic or otherwise, is low. The
present Pakistani establishment is firmly in charge and,
with enhanced technical and military assistance from the
United States, is able to ensure its dominance is not effectively
challenged. Pakistan probably has a "grace" period of five
to ten years to solve its internal political legitimacy
crisis before an explosion occurs. It is undeniable, however,
that radical forces are growing, especially the Islamists,
that social chaos and demographic, economic and natural
resource pressures are mounting and that many of Pakistan's
mainstream liberals are increasingly frustrated. Unless
this is checked, this last group could turn to Islam. Moreover,
if anything happens to disrupt the Army's cohesion--an unlikely
but not impossible occurrence--a radical Pakistan could
emerge because no alternative exists; nor has one been allowed
to develop. Unfortunately, the current American policies
are only likely to speed up Pakistan's march ineluctable
march towards a modern version of the stone age.
Alan Toy - Guelph, Ontario
Dear Frontline: First off, let me commend you on your excellent
piece on Pakistan, with kudos to Ms. Obaid, for courageous
& edifying work. President Musharraf is indeed walking a
political tightrope here, but he must continue to 'stay
the course', neither fearing the Muslim extremists, nor
kowtowing totally to U.S. foreign policy. As Canadians,
we currently have a strong troop commitment in Afghanistan,
with a view to reconstruction & one hopes this area can
One final thought: Pres. Musharraf
ought to invest heavily in secular primary state education,
thus lessening the influence of the fundamentalist schools.
Shahbaz Ashraf - Montreal, Quebec
Excellent interview - to the point yet in-depth answers.
[It]shows [that you] don't need to be old to have a depth
in your vision. God bless Sharmeen and may He protect her
and may people on both sides of the planet comprehend what
she is really trying to convey as Moses had prayed to God
when he was sent to speak to [the] Pharaoh.
Roy Watts - El Mirage, California
Excellent, Excellent, Excellent, this is the most informative,
intelligent, unbiased, honest report I have seen in many
years. I'm a producer and editor, this segment put real
faces and comments on real people. Unbiased, it gave us
the opinions of many different people's ideals. Honesty,
the report was not controlled by any state, corporate, or
personal censorship. The major news networks could learn
a lot from this type of reporting, show us the story in
an honest format and let us, the people decide the value
of the content. I found it refreshing to see that Pakistani
people by the most part want peace with not only India but
with the rest of the world. For most of us in the West,
Pakistan and India have very little value in the news media
here in Los Angeles, one man kills his wife and unborn child
here in California, and the media goes wild for months,
many people die in a flood or train crash in Pakistan or
India, and we don't even hear about it. We need many more
segments like the program tonight, but on the national news
media, both morning and night. Congratulations for an excellent
Saira Ahmad - San Jose, California
This was an excellent piece of journalism. I was so taken
by this documentary on Pakistan. Kudos to you for putting
this piece together. I will continue to look forward to
seeing more of your work out there!
Faraz Wasti - Glastonbury, Connecticut
While it's true that Sharmeen has done an excellent job
in portraying the views of the people of Pakistan and the
rest of the world, she could not have achieved it without
the help of the Frontline crew and media expertise. Nevertheless,
she needs to be congratulated for her achievement in producing
the piece and portraying the views of a moderate culture
that really exists in Pakistan. In reaction to the world
forces acting upon the (inseparable Indic) peoples of [the]Sub-continent,
the current emergent of exchange in ideas is more important
than a violent solution. Though it might be true that majority
of the peoples of Pakistan and India suffer from similar
heritage/background, the conscious selection or the freedom
to select future is important.
In with "new" ideas and out with
the old "status quo" should be tried, where peoples have
thousands of years of ritualistic practice has lead them
Isabelle Miller - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Nowadays, trying to shoot a report in Pakistan is an extremely
dangerous endeavor. The book of French author Bernard-Henri
Levy about the assassination of Daniel Pearl ("Who killed
Daniel Pearl?") depicts a very hostile and dangerous country
I am impressed that Ms. Obaid took the challenge. Even
if she is Pakistani born - which might have helped her -
she is still a woman. With the [rise] of fundamentalist
Islam, a report done by a woman in a highly dominated male
society is an act of courage.
I was very surprised though that Ms Obaid did not have
her face covered during interviews with religious leaders.
I was disturbed hearing street interviewed Pakistanis
suggesting the Israeli Mossad could have planned the 2 assassination
attempts on President Musharaff. This is again a sign of
pure dis-information that runs in Muslim countries and how
ideological brainwashing operates successfully. If Musharaff
is an ally of the US and the Western world in the war against
terror, why would Israel want to kill him???? It makes no
sense! Sadly, in those countries, Israel is always the root
of all evils, which is an incredible distortion of truth!
At the end of the report, Ms Obaid interviewed a religious
leader. I was petrified by his hatred for the West, the
Americans, The Israelis and his misconception about us.
He said: "America and the Zionists want to make the Muslims
like sheep and kill them all. We won't let it happen and
we will fight until our last drop of blood!"
Strangely, our perception is exactly the opposite. We,
in the western world, sense that radical Islam wants to
eliminate us because we are infidels and not Muslims like
How are we going to break this ideological wall between
those two civilizations? It will take time and human lives
Sharmeen Obaid responds:
the Kashmir jihadi fighter blamed the assassination attempt
on President Musharraf on the Israeli agency of Mossad,
most Pakistanis I interviewed on the streets believed
that it had to be the work of an extremist Islamic religious
Aamir Ali - Peshawar, Pakistan
That Levy fellow was a fraud. He only spent 2 weeks in
Karachi and came up with his crazed theories about who
killed Daniel Pearl. Two months after his book came out
the US developed an alternate theory that Khalid Sheikh
killed him. But for 2 months Levy was able to spew his
hatred against Pakistan. His book is now discredited.
Paul Simons - Philadelphia,
I'm interested in the psychology behind the hatred of Jews
and Israel coming from the most militant and fundamentalist
Pakistanis interviewed. I guess it shows the link between
negativity and paranoia.
And many generations of Muslims
will grow up [with] the hatred of the Western civilization.
After decades of communism and repression,
the Berlin wall has [fallen]. So there is hope.