To protect certain people whose participation in the film may make them the target of threats, we made a decision to block access to the video in Pakistan.
The city of Peshawar is on high alert. The Taliban are closing in, regularly attacking police convoys, kidnapping diplomats, and shooting foreigners. The fighting across this volatile region has driven thousands of families from their homes and many have found shelter in Peshawar.
Correspondent Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy is traveling across her fractured homeland to investigate the rising popularity of a new Pakistani branch of the Taliban, now threatening the major cities, blowing up girls’ schools and declaring war on the Pakistani state.
Her journey begins at a rehabilitation center in Peshawar, where she talks with many young victims caught in the crossfire of this war.
“We saw the dead body of a policeman tied to a pole,” an articulate young girl named Qainat tells the reporter quietly. “His head had been chopped off. It was hanging between his legs. There was a note saying that if anyone moved the dead body, they would share its fate.”
Before the Taliban took control of Qainat’s village, the women in her family attended university and worked. But now the Taliban has banned girls from going to school.
Qainat is from Swat, a 100-mile-long valley in the north of Pakistan, three hours drive from Peshawar. Until recently, Swat was known as the Switzerland of the east, and had a thriving tourist industry.
Two years ago, hundreds of Taliban fighters moved into the valley from the adjoining tribal areas, when the Pakistani Army drove them out.
Driving through the streets of Swat filming surreptitiously, Obaid-Chinoy sees Swati women wearing the burqa. This never used to be the case.
The Taliban often use radio broadcasts to drive home their message.
In one typical address, a preacher proclaims:
“Sharia Law is our right, and we will exercise this right whatever happens. We will make ourselves suicide bombers! I swear to God if our leader orders me, I will sacrifice myself… and blow myself up in the middle of our enemies.“
The Taliban have destroyed more than 200 government schools in Swat since they took control of the region.
Walking through the rubble of a school that once taught 400 girls, the reporter comes across two nine-year-old girls who used to study there.
“Why did you like school?” she asks one of them.
“Because education is like a ray of light and I want that light,” she replies.
When the sound of mortar fire cuts the conversation short, the film crew leaves quickly, passing through the main square. Locals have renamed it “Khooni Chowk” (“bloody square”) for all the public beheadings the Taliban now carry out there.
Several weeks after FRONTLINE/World filmed in Swat, the Pakistani government signed a peace deal with the Taliban, allowing the imposition of a brutal brand of Sharia Law on a million people across the valley.
It’s a significant deal, reports Obaid-Chinoy. Swat lies outside the tribal area, showing that Taliban influence is growing, and the militants now have a new safe haven.
In Taliban strongholds near the Afghan border, they have been running their own schools for years, targeting poor families and often providing food and shelter.
One Swat teenager explains how he joined the Taliban a year ago, when he was 13. First it was the sermons at the mosque, then being recruited to a madrassa, and finally spending months in military training.
“They teach us to use a machine gun, Kalashnikov…Then they teach us how to do a suicide attack,” he tells our reporter.
Despite the Swat peace deal, the Pakistan Army has been battling the Taliban for several months, deep inside the tribal belt.
In Bajaur, just 10 miles from the Afghan border, flattened buildings are all that remain of this former trading hub, once home to 7,000 people.
The Army claims it destroyed the town because it was the only way to free it from militants. This hard line approach has left hundreds of thousands of refugees, many winding up in makeshift camps on the edge of the Tribal belt.
It’s the largest internal displacement Pakistan has ever seen, Obaid-Chinoy reports. Almost a million people have been forced to leave their homes.
Visiting one such camp in Peshawar, we meet two young men among the 15,000 children displaced there. Wasifullah and Abdurrahman are best friends, but they have different ideas of who is to blame for this war. Both boys fled their village when the Pakistani Army began bombing. Their district was also targeted by American missile strikes. In one of those strikes, Wasifullah’s 12-year-old cousin was killed.
“We brought his remains home in bags,” he explains with little expression. “We could only find his legs so we buried them in our village.”
There have been more than 30 U.S. missile strikes in the tribal areas in the last year. They target Taliban and Al Qaeda leaders, but civilians are often killed as well. It’s an easy recruiting tool for the Taliban, and Wasifullah is eager to sign up.
But his best friend Abdurrahman blames Al Qaeda for the destruction of their village. He would prefer to become a captain in the Pakistan Army. The two friends sadly represent the fault lines in this unstable nation.
The Army has also suffered in its campaign against the Taliban. In the last five years, thousands of Pakistani soldiers have been wounded. And more than 1,500 have been killed.
Visiting some of the wounded in a local hospital, Obaid-Chinoy asks one soldier why the Taliban hate the Pakistani Army so much.
“The American policies we adopted; that’s why the Taliban are angry at the Army.
That’s why we’re suffering,” he whispers.
Meanwhile, the Taliban are growing bolder by the day, openly inviting journalists to the heart of the tribal areas for a show of strength. As a woman, Obaid-Chinoy is told she is not welcome and that she will be killed if she goes. A local cameraman sets out to film there instead.
In a village 6 hours from Peshawar, it is the first time that the new deputy leader of the Pakistani Taliban, Hakimullah Mehsud, has been filmed.
Arriving in an American Humvee his men have just captured in an attack on a NATO convoy, he tells the cameraman, “If America continues bombing the tribal areas… and martyrs innocent people…then we are compelled to attack them.” He also sends a message to Islamabad: “If the Pakistani leaders and army maintain their stance… then we will take control of Peshawar and other cities.”
This is no empty threat. The war has already arrived in the capital and Pakistan’s largest city, Karachi.
Back in Karachi, Obaid-Chinoy finds that her native city has become a new safe haven for the Taliban. She visits one of the city’s poorest neighborhoods, which local police concede has become heavily infiltrated by the Taliban. Most of the children here already study at small madrassas.
After their lessons, some of the boys play cricket on a strip of wasteland close to school. One of them is Shaheed, which means “martyr.” He is 14 and one of 200 pupils at the school, most of whom come from extremely poor families.
The state education system in Pakistan has virtually collapsed, leaving more than 1.5 million children studying at schools like this one.
Sitting down to be interviewed, Shaheed explains what Sharia Law has taught him about women.
“The government should forbid women and girls from wandering around outside,” he says calmly. “Just like the government banned plastic bags -- no one uses them any more -- we should do the same with women.”
Shaheed’s teacher defends the school, saying it promotes only peace and harmony, not terrorism, but away from the camera, he tells another story.
When asked who he thinks will win this war, his response is chilling:
“No matter how many Muslims die, we will never run out of sacrificial lambs.”
It also confirms something Shaheed said during his interview: “When I look at suicide bombers younger than me, or my age, I get so inspired by their terrific attacks.”
Leaving Karachi, the reporter tries to make contact with the Taliban leadership in the tribal areas. She wants to talk to the men who are recruiting children from these religious schools for suicide operations.
After lengthy negotiations, she meets with Qari Abdullah, who makes no attempt to hide his face.
“We never used to fight against Pakistan, because we thought the Army were Muslims,” he tells her. “But when they started bombing us, we had to do jihad against them.”
When she asks him about using young children to carry out such attacks, he replies:
“Children are tools to achieve God’s will. And whatever comes your way, you sacrifice it.” He then reveals that he recruits children as young as 5, 6, and 7 years old.
Coming to the end of her bleak journey, Obaid-Chinoy reminds us that there are 80 million children in Pakistan, many of them living in poverty. If the militants continue to expand their war and to recruit children freely, as they do now, then Pakistan may soon belong to them.
How brutal - is this the gift to the world or humanity? why people kill their own people. What do they achieve with these killings?
Why the world is supporting this inhuman revolution around the world. If
the rulers are not able to protect their citizen's and their rights, they are not fit to rule the country and it is high time to think the people of that country. Here also, if the parents kept aware of their children and their friends, and prevented them from wrong doings in time, none of the country should have faced this situation what today they are facing...
Kim Jong II
I once read somewhere ... Pakistan is a failed state because of 3A.
Allah, Army, America in that order.
First of all the parents of those children will sacrifice their blood their kids to go blow themselves up! Just so they could get some shelter and food. Is it just me or is that major selfishness?
Awesome video the best i've seen so far!
Great work! I wish there was an easy way out for Pakistan and the World.
The point is obvious: let people live there own way in their country! Don"t support a corrupt president asking for troops!! Take care of our own neighborhoods.
If Pakistan is build in the name of Islam than why are they are not accepting the Sharia Law?
I think Pakistan is not honest in their approach to defeat the Taliban. They gave birth to the Taliban to counter India, and now they know that Taliban could act as an extra force in event of war with India, apart from them also being able to destabilize India with terrorist attacks.
salt lake city, utah
I wonder why everyone in the Western media does not mention or give importance to one point, of how Taliban came into existence into first place, and why they survived so long. It was Pakistan's wish to nurture Taliban and other extremist elements within their country to help destabilize neighboring India, which has unfortunately backfired on Pakistan. Even
during these tough times for the country, you could see Pakistan's news channels broadcasting messages from Taliban saying that they are with the country in the event of war with India. Its this sympathy for Taliban, which is also its main strength. I just hope that politicians in Pakistan stop experimenting people in extremism, and stop nurturing all extremist organizations and elements. This thing I presume will only stop if Pakistanis stand up, and ask the politicians to give up their obsession about Kashmir and India, since everything in Pakistan is done with a view point of countering India.
la palma, CA
Read "Three Cups of Tea." An American has done more for that country than all our forces. A must read.
It's very awful. As a man who has a grandfather from Pakistan, I'm very upset to know about the negative side of Pakistan. This is all about perception. Taliban always has different perception to Pak's Government. It's also bad for the Pakistani Government. Pakistani Government should be fully restricted to the Taliban. The regime in Pakistan now, doesn't care fully about the condition in FATA/NWFP. If Pakistani Government knows, it won't to be like this. The World has just become anarchy, but not at all.
Very scary to see the youth viewing suicide attacks as a form of justification for their beliefs.
None of us wants the Taliban kind of Islam, but very few of us can express this with impact. If people like Sharmeen have the courage to come up and say No to this, we must give them a warm shoulder. I think the Islam interpreted by Taliban is not only contrary to real Islam of the Holy prophet, rather it is demoralising Muslims all over the world. We must condemn them before they reach our doors.
San Diego, CA
Just watched your sobering documentary. By the way U.S. drug use funds the Taliban. U.S.A. used to give money to the Taliban. U.S. arms dealers win. Today on Google news, Reuters, CNN, BBC, etc. It's all about Michael Jackson.
Don't you all understand? The majority of people don't care. Who's to blame. Look in the mirror. Are you really a kind decent compassionate responsible human being and if so are you in a position of power? No. Welcome to the real world!
Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh
I saw Children of the Taliban documentary last night on TV. It's terrible that children are been brainwashed and schools are being bombed by the Taliban.
It was a great documentary. Hats off to Sharmeen Obaid.
I have very mixed feelings after watching this clip. One part of me feels very grateful that I was born in America, especially since I'm a girl. However, another part of me can't help but feel ashamed of being American. Conflicts like the one in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iraq, happen mainly because of American hegemony. Although America is rapidly declining in terms of global power, it helped spawn this conflict in the Middle East, and many others before that; unfortunately, there may be other ones to come.
29 Palms, CA
Although disturbing, I am thankful to this brave journalist who risked her own life to share such a sad story. I only hope that more people watch this video and realize how children are being used and abused to defend terrorists.
I was impressed by the reporting and the immediacy and timeliness (no one to two year documentary lag). The report only intensifies my fear that we have no idea what we are doing in the region and that even if we did, there are no good options. This kind of reporting is invaluable.
Los Angeles, CA
What a disturbing firsthand account of the consequences of using religion as a tool for war and violence. It is such a shame that the three Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam cannot find common ground in their monotheism and common ideologies but instead have spent the last 2000 years killing each other and using religion as a political, secular tool for personal gain.
San Diego, California
This has torn me apart inside. It is the best piece of video journalism I've ever seen. How she did this without an ounce of glib is beyond me?
It's a really hard piece to watch...i m here in the US for higher education in my late 30s... and it is a typical example of progression that we Pakistani women were going through.
I being the first from may families to go abroad alone on a foreign scholarship. I value that a lot because that is just another success story for women in general...BUT I damn well know there is going to be a drastic break in this vertical line of progression! I don't think my daughter, who lives back home, will have the nurturing environment that I shared with others.
My parents were able to fight the social system to get us our basic rights but her parents will just be frightened for her safety.
We just went back a few generations, and I blame ALL of us for not being able to see it all when very educated professional couples were taking their boys out of school for a couple of years to send to hifz (memorize by heart) the Quran. We just assumed we were being religious! But it was a seed of softer fundamentalism that we were sowing. I am a proud, very proud practicing Muslim. But I can never support a bit of what's going on in the name of Islam, because I KNOW that's not it.
From the comments I have read it appears most responses have been limited to an emotional reaction only.
Few practicable solutions, if any, have been presented, nor has the history of the problem prior to the US exit from the region, after the withdrawal of the Soviet troops, been addressed.
Like all geopolitical issues, often the external players in the game become part of the problem over a period of time, and extricating themselves from the situation becomes almost impossible. For those same players who are now entrenched and compromised, having developed allegiances and vested interests in the localised situation, they lose sight of the bigger "global" picture focusing only on the immediate here and now.
In this case 'get rid of the Taliban.' Good, let's do that. What next?
Where will they disperse to? What will they morph into? Once they have morphed, how will they present themselves in their next reincarnation? Will we be able to identify them? What have we done to protect ourselves against this 'new' monster? And this is assuming we will recognise them for who and what they are.
My understanding of global politics has taught me that almost 90% of all 'strategic' relationships eventually end in the small easily manipulated monster becoming a big one, and worse still developing its own agenda and propaganda, becoming a force unto itself, and then running amok. History is riddled with events which are an outcome of such machinations.
I write all of this NOT having seen this production because those of us resident in Pakistan have been denied access to it. I fail to understand in this world of technology how Frontline can defend a position claiming protection of its participants. Just fix the Techie stuff and bounce us to a site where necessary adjustments have been made to protect these individuals. Your excuse is exactly that - an excuse. You can and should do better.
If Frontline and Chinoy wish to raise awareness and affect change in Pakistan (presumably one or both are your goals), how do you expect to achieve this, if the very people whom you have made the subject of this footage and those around them who are impacted by this, do not have access to your production?
I await your response with interest.
I want to extend my extreme admiration to producer Dan Edge and reporter Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy for their brilliant and dangerous work in creating the May...th broadcasts "Letter from Karachi" and "Children of the Taliban." The stories are chilling almost beyond description. These two individuals found a way to let the story tell itself. I couldn't be more impressed. Thank you very much.
What is so disturbing is that even this nine-year-old knows what a mortar sounds like. That's disturbing.
Brevard, North Carolina
There are several comments from Pakistan and Pakistanis which we need to heed even more here than the well-done journalism of the documentary...among them a long passionate letter above from Lahore as well as these commonly heard words from another Pakistani:
"This documentry no doubt is a very thorough and brave work. But this also makes it clear that the Taliban do not have the means or motivation to use modern ways to get information. Someone is providing them with the equipment and the information. Pakistan is certainly not doing that. You in the US may think this is our mess but there was no such problem in our areas before American occupation of Afghanistan. And the blame for a mess created in this part of the world all lies on American shoulders. I have no sympathy whatsoever for Taliban, Al Qaeda or for American soldiers for that matter..."
Also, in my own blog today I expressed two concerns: 1) Why are the positives left off - the spiritual history of Pakistan, the leaders, the writings and ongoing work toward the rule of law, education of the poor? 2) Why in the world is Shell the sponsor?
Thank you for this wonderful piece of brave reporting....we don't see or read this in our media very often. Sharmeen is a very brave person, and has taken many risks to bring us this reporting. I am blown away by the indifference and callousness of the Taliban to have such hatred for their fellow man, because we are all walking the same path, and we all need help, not bombs.
I lived, taught and traveled in Pakistan for 7 years. I love Pakistan and all it's people. If I didn't have a mother and children here I would live there. This entire occurrence makes my heart ache. Pakistan is a very misunderstood country. I am a teacher. This could very easily happen here if we don't correct our educational system. Wake up people. Learn. Be aware. Jerry
This is undoubtedly great reporting. What I'm more concerned about is ,who is actually sponsoring the Taliban? Who is supporting them? How are they generating enough money to run madrassas, recruit martyrs and support their families. I'm pretty sure there are forces/countries involved in creating this evil regime. Someone needs to investigate and make those countries/agencies accountable.
Excellent documentary because it makes the link, even if only indirectly, between Islam and the Taliban. We see the young men becoming "Talibanized" after attending Islamic schools, after reading the Koran, after coming under the influence of Islamic religious authorities. The Taliban is just standard Islam carried out to the letter.
Last week, we read that a council of Pakistani Islamic religious leaders met in support of the Pakistani government and condemned the Taliban. However, they condemned only the Taliban's tactics of suicide bombing and beheading. The clerics all supported the Taliban's goal, namely, the establishment of Sharia law throughout Pakistan. Probably, most of Pakistan's population supports this goal, too. Or, at least, they think they do.
In all of our dealings with Pakistan, our leaders, including our ignorant president, do not understand that Pakistan is a deeply Islamic country, or what significance this has. In fact, the name of the country is not "Pakistan"; it is the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. That fact is hugely significant, but neither our diplomats nor our journalists understand that significance.
Any reader who would like to understand the importance of Islam in Pakistan (and elsewhere) should read the Koran.
This was deeply disturbing and heart wrenching. I fell in love with Pakistan and the Pakistani people while living and teaching school there for seven years, recently.
It is a complex problem that I feel is rooted in a feudal system that has repressed the poor and not encouraged education and progress for its masses. With so much poverty and lack of good public education, it is the perfect storm. I wish I could wake up tomorrow and have this all be a bad dream.
This is really something to ponder.
The Taliban is using these kids as suicide bombers, and to the American military these kids are just collateral damage. There will be no shortage of these suicide bombers so long as we continue our policy of aggression in that part of the world.
Excellent piece. Yet she still avoided the main issue, which is WHY the Taliban have such an ideology? Because they take the violent (and mysogynistic) passages of the Qur'an literally. How about interviewing some Muslim clerics opposed to Taliban ideology, such as Barelwis?
Salt Lake City, Utah
This was an incredible report about what's going on in that area. The suffering, oppression, and fear are very disturbing. I would love to adopt a child or two from that area. I'm sick to my stomach right now and my heart is broken.
Very interesting but selective reporting. It may earn a lot of miles in the U.S. due to a fascination with the Taliban, but this is less than 2 percent of Pakistan. There are many excellent schools and suburbs in Pakistan operating fine. Yes, Pakistan has a problem that they must fight and eliminate. The show painted a picture that is very different from the situation in Pakistan.
This is an excellent piece of documentary history that should be viewed by the millions of people around the world with empty concepts of the grim reality of a world beyond democracy.
It is understandable that this world of terrorism, Sharia law, and violence is not something that everyone could ever possibly experience -- nor should they have to. It is important, however, to remain open minded in an effort to find truth amid a sea of false reporting.
Whether you support or denounce the Coalition's efforts in Afghanistan, Iraq, or Pakistan matters little and should bear no weight on the comprehension of the current fight of the Taliban versus the World. This fight is not one of theological underpinnings, though it is projected as such. It is a war just the same as all for the history of time--it is a fight for POWER and MONEY.
The Taliban want both and will do anything to ensure that they get it. I have lived amongst people in fear for their lives everyday -- not knowing anything of peace, watched as NGO's from the countries of the World attempted to donate money for development, only to experience destruction and violence for the efforts.
I have fought to provide this peace and development for people who desperately want it against a group of people who want nothing more than utter devastation. Please do not be fooled into believing half-truths and lies -- the Taliban will never honor a peace accord, never accept democracy, and will use only your tolerance for personal freedoms in an effort to exploit you as weak.
This work is a bold effort to bring forth the gruesome truth that many simply wish was not a reality -- do not allow this false hope to drive rational decisions.
It was such a powerful documentary that I was stunned to watch the insight of the Taliban. The problem in our Muslim societies has been the lack of logic and education. We all know that the memorization of the holy Quran is commendable and carries a lots of spiritual and moral fruits and enlightens the person's vision with the understanding of the spirit of the holy message. But we the Muslims never took the religious studies as a serious matter, instead leaving it at the helm of the Imam of the mosque who needs no qualification except having a beard on his face.
That is why whatever he tells the little kids,they believe its from the Quran. It is very unfortunate that the Imam of the mosque himself does not know the meanings of the holy verses of the Quran. This story says that Karachi has become the center of the new generation of Taliban but no one says that 99 percent of the Imams in Karachi mosques are from the tribal area or NWFP because the local Karachi residents never wanted their children to be Imams or religious scholars -- therefore, someone has to fill the gap.
This is happening all over Pakistan. In my little town in Pakistan where I grew up, only one Imam was local. We Muslims as a whole have to evaluate ourselves, what we stand for, and what we have to do. I do congratulate sister Shameen here who put her life at risk and enabled us to watch the inside story of the Taliban.
San Diego, CA
The skeptics among us believe that these journalistic efforts "grease the skids" preparing the gullible U.S. citizens for greater American involvement including: more unaccounted for tax dollars, more drones and equipment, and more military involvement, et al, as the United States flounders around with no clear goal in soverign nations like Pakistan.
The conservative right doesn't need these kinds of journalistic reports to "fire up the base" for more involvement. The right-wingers are seemingly always eager to extend American influence by meddling in other countries. No, this kind of reporting resonates with the left-wing liberals -- those who need "greater moral justification" to become involved.
Interventionists must have a devil. They must have things presented in an unmistakable black and white, good guys and bad guys framework. The devil has been clearly identified in this report. It is now Taliban. (Where did Al Qaeda go?) The bad guys are not the corrupt Pakistan ruling elite this month. Later, we may have to paint them with the "devil's brush", but not now. For the time being, we seem to need them.
How long will the U.S. keep writing big checks to Pakistan after the "devil" is defeated? Will we spend the billions and billions required for nation building? It may be in the best interest of Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, and other nations who want American money to keep a credible "terrorist threat" alive.
By playing on American paranoia to demand huge sums of support, these countries and factions could greatly damage our already fragile economy and win without ever reaching our shores.
I am amazed at this shocking video. The Pakistan government must establish schools for the children of Pakistan. In fact, just like in America, education must be free to all children until they graduate from high school. Pakistan must invest in her future by education. That's the only way to fight extremism.
Wolfville, Nova Scotia
"Imagine no religion" - John Lennon
Santa FE, NM
Is there any way to donate money to help support Qainat, and her dreams of becoming a doctor. If so, where do I sign up?
Reporters never consider examining how did it all started. I would say, UN must set up a fact-finding mission to establish the source of evil. Millions of innocent people are uprooted from their homes and living a miserable life because of this operation. But the real culprit is never caught.
We know this as fact that Talibans are illiterate people, use religion for their ulterior motives but hardly know their religious values.Somebody must have given them arms and ammunition and trained them before unleashing them on their enemies.
Patrons who started this whole mess are the real culprits and must be identified, held responsible and put to task. And if the civil society of the world fails to do that, then it's just a matter of time before humanity will suffer such disasters again and again in one part of the world or the other. Because the godfather will never cease to practice such abomination whenever it is in their national interest.
Sounds like the entire region is a lost cause. No education? The people of this region are degenerating into barbarism.
Never should have done anything but to fight an educational war against ignorance, and maybe overpopulation.
Sharmeen, a great piece of journalism. I don't think the funding President Obama will provide to the Pakistani government will be enough to defeat the Taliban. If the funding reaches the right places it will be a miracle; it is a corrupt government. My heart goes out to the children who are given a bad start in life. The Taliban can't be stopped by ill-equipped underpaid and untrained armed forces.
Why are the madrassa schools with violent and radical teachings allowed to continue?
I found this report very informative. I feel this battle is a long time coming for the Pakistani government. No matter how much funding the U.S. gives the Pakistani government, it will not go to assist in the war effort. It will be misdirected to corrupt individuals. My prayers are with the innocent ones who have no choice but to endure. Thank for a great program.
I just saw this documentary and it brought tears in my eyes. I'm basically from Pakistan, and i felt like my own house is burning and nobody is there to help me or my family members. I'm really disappointed that no Muslim country is helping Pakistan in such a terrible situation. I wish I could do something and could get rid of those uneducated Talibans. They are not real Muslims; they are just ruining the real Muslim respect and name.
I have been reading the comments posted and it's amazing to me how many people think the only answer is more interventionism. Pakistan can only rely on it's own people being courageous enough to stand against the Taliban in much the same way Iran stood against the Shah, and in the same spirit that led Jefferson to write the Declaration of Independence.
Freedom comes from within and this is what Pakistan is fighting for. In truth, I feel the biggest mistake the U.S. made in Afghanistan was asking for the weapons back from the Afghan's after Russia fled. It left them at the whim of those who chose to keep them.
The Taliban are making a compelling case for their extermination.
I am not sorry to say what a terrrible piece of journalism Sharmeen. This report is totally biased and produced with content as per the wishes of Western powers only. It is not a true picture.
You presented only one side of the picture. It is no surprise that the report comes from the middle of a great playground (the Tribal Areas) where the Western occupation along with India are playing out their dirty game.
I agree there are people who have bad intentions and hard line beliefs. But those who Sharmeen portray that way are very few among the majority of the population.
It is a great shame that for the cost of few dollars you are lobbying against the interest of 170 million Pakistanis.
Excellent Report of a Dirty Reality.
Excellent reporting. How true and how honest. As a Muslim, I pray to God All Mighty that may all Taliban go to hell. They are not Muslims. They are fanatic barbarians created by funding from Saudi Arabia. That was the missing link in your reporting. Good Work Chinoy, Keep it up.
Why aren't more international Muslims (especially those with power and influence) aggressively speaking out against these fanatics? They are disrupting the entire world and I believe them when they say they will not stop!
These people do not know the meaning of ISLAM, ISLAM will not allow you to do these kind of things.
Los Angles, Ca
Thank you so much for such a great documentary. The West built these monsters during 1979 to 1990. We used them and once the Soviets left Afghanistan, we also left them high and dry. Instead of having a plan (such as a Marshal plan) for Afghan and Pakistan, we throw them out like they are garbage.
Why do the ones recruiting and teaching kids to become suicide bombers not become suicide bombers? Because they are cowards and want someone else to die for them.
The video is restricted in Pakistan. This is what message appears... please see what is wrong.
The Pakistani Army has to take up arms and use a huge force to uproot the Taliban. This will make them run to Afghanistan where they want to go and fight us. We are ready.
Unfortunately, some hearts and minds are beyond winning. We in the West must come to understand this. We find it hard to believe that these people intend to do us harm, but through history we should understand that fanatics mean exactly what they say. Our choice is a dreadful one, but it is the choice they have forced on us. We must destroy them all. I believe it was General Sherman who stated that victory can be achieved only when the enemy is left "with only his eyes with which he can weep over the war" he caused.
what has the world come to?
Peace is an illusion as long as U.S. and NATO are there. Do us a favor, forget you created the boegy man Osama and pack your bags. Show us your balance sheet after 8 years of fighting. What good has it brought to the region? Instead invest in schools, roads and hospitals and wait for another 8 years to see any positive change. Till then, it is the killing game and humiliating images of humanity.
First Sharmeen and the FRONTLINE Team - Splendid and timely work.
Most of the world does not have PBS. Everyone needs to see this documentary.
"A miracle, perhaps. And that is when Jesus reveals Himself to them."
Give me a break...this is not the problem.
It is the fault of the WEST and I have been to Peshawar.
San Diego, CA
There is always a rush to blame the U.S. for Pakistan. Civilians are just the pawns of reporters, the Taliban, Islamists and Leftists. To be used to further their political objectives.
The Taliban deserve what they are getting from the Pakistan Army these days. Every last one of them has to be eliminated. If we are to save Pakistan as the land of the pure they have to be eliminated.
We need to develop our social services to take care of the poor so they do not fall in to the clutches of Taliban and the likes. This is where we need Global Support.
I don't understand why journalists can get close to the leadership of the Taliban but other forces can't.
The Taliban are the natural continuation of 1.400 years of the bloody Khelafat system. It's come back a couple of century ago by Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab is just another phase of the same thing. Wahabies created the Taliban and only they under pressure from the U.S. can stop it.
Amazing documentary, and fantastic and supremely brave reporting by Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy. As a frequent viewer of Frontline, this is a piece that I know will follow me for some time. I do wish, however, that Ms. Obaid-Chinoy would have dug a little deeper into the completely dysfunctional education system (if you can call it that!) of Pakistan.
The poverty of the region and utter failure of the government to provide its children with any basic education have provided the perfect vector to spread the Taliban's doctrine of hate. But why and how did Pakistan fail in this vital endeavor, despite receiving tens of billions of dollars in American aide?
My guess is that a great deal of our taxpayer dollars are lining the pockets of Pakistan's corrupt leaders, while its children suffer as a direct result of their greed.
This should have been discussed, and I hope FRONTLINE will produce a follow up film, which will focus on this sad reality. Pakistan's leaders, wherever you are, be ashamed!!
FRONTLINE/World's editors respond:
You may be interested in an interview on the FRONTLINE/World website with two reporters from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. They have just returned from Pakistan after spending six weeks there reporting on the country's education crisis.
San Jose, CA
I am not shocked at all. Pakistan created the Taliban and kept them alive to fight a proxy war in Kashmir against India. The foundation of Pakistan is based on the hatred of India because it is not a Muslim country. Extremism is like flesh eating bacteria, and as thing gets tougher in India and Afghanistan, it has to find food elsewhere -- and it did inside Pakistan.
If you live in a glass house, don't throw stones at your neighbor. The U.S. should stop all aid to Pakistan and let the Taliban take over and the war will move from Afghanistan to Pakistan. The allied forces will have 1 front to fight not 2 as now. What is really sad is that a once great religion has mutated into what you see now in Pakistan.
Was anyone else watching that city destroyed on the border reminded of the U.S. policy in Vietnam? "We had to destroy the village to save it from communists?" Then that soldier in the hospital said the Army was using 'US' tactics. And if we 'fight like this' we can't win.
I am trying to figure out how this happened. David Petraeus is supposed to be this big intellectual who understands counter-insurgency warfare. But somehow the message is not getting through to the actors in Pakistan.
The clearest example is her interview with the Pakistani military leader, saying those young teenage kids were "part of the problem not part of the solution." This is ignorance on a U.S.-in-Vietnam scale.
They are actively creating Taliban by their war tactics, but then pretending it is not happening, and thinking they can just level every village and forget about the refugees.
I think we have seen this movie in Vietnam, I don't know why we are using these 'missile attacks' if it is just repeating the mistakes of that war.
So thanks Rumsfeld, thank you neocons. You chased the Taliban out of Afghanistan, left them alone for 8 years so you could blow up Iraq, and now they have nukes. Way to go.
Imagine if the Khmer Rouge had nukes. They would have used them in a heart beat. And no, you don't need 'skill' to use them, just a couple of scientists you buy off or scare into launching them for you (if you don't already have the expertise ... which a lot of the Taliban do, having been educated overseas).
Who is supporting the Taliban? Who named them first? Who directed them at the very beginning? Can someone please find out?
Clearly, after watching this video, it has only strengthened my opinion that the U.S. should get its forces not only out of Afghanistan, but also, remove them from Pakistan as well. Osama Bin Laden has been deceased since 2002, per Benazir Bhutto's David Frost Interview which the BBC, which edited out the revelation about Osama Bin Laden being dead. Therefore, the legitimacy of ANY U.S. involvement in Afghanistan and indeed, Pakistan, is not only 'questionable' it is highly illegal and smelly.
The U.S. is destroying these two nations for its own energy conquests, and this must stop. The Drone attacks must stop. The squandering of U.S. forces in the region must stop. The United States needs to 'apologize' to the world for carrying out the biggest fraud of the century.
Justification of war in Afghanistan to chase a man who not only has not been proven to have attacked the U.S. on Sept. 11, 2001, but also, the major reason for going into Afghanistan has been proven to be utterly, totally false and nothing more than a 'lie' by those who have demonstrated unbelievable HUBRIS in destroying these '2' countries -- and doing so for energy conquests and wars of aggression on people who have not harmed the U.S. in any way. We must get out.
If I were in charge of Pakistan, I would first get rid of all the people in the Education Ministry starting with the minister.
The government schools in Pakistan are ghost schools. Teachers are on payroll, classes are full, salaries are given, bills are paid, but in reality there are zero classes. There is no furniture, there are no teachers, sometimes there are a few students wandering about in search of a teacher.
The Taliban are serious and very committed about their evil goals, and teach and feed and clothe for free anyone who sends their child to them. The government just takes money from the world, the U.S., etc., while the ministers and the teachers pocket the money and run their private business or hold other jobs. Until the racket is fixed, Pakistan cannot be fixed.
I feel sorry for kids. But it gives me immense pleasure, after reading the comments, that there are many people around the world who feel the pain of others. The reaction of Brittani from Utah was heart touching.
kansas city, MO, USA
Unfortunately, the Pakistani government for several decades has supported Taliban and Al Qaeda to create terrorism in Kashmir and tried to destabilize India. Now it is hurting them. The Pakistan authorities now must end ALL terrorist training camp on there soil
It is very very sad and unfortunate. I think most of the responsibility lies on the local people. I was born in Peshawar, grown up there, studied there. I had friends from Swat valley, as far as I know they are very self respectful and brave people, and every house carries large amount of weapons. So how can they allow these few terrorists to terrorize them? It's the right time to use their weapons -- they have to help themselves if they don't want Taliban there. A few terrorists come into their areas and they let them go. I cannot understand this, so I request the local people, stand up and face those cowards. Everybody, the Pakistan Army, the people of Pakistan, and the people of the world are behind you.
A few people posed the question "How could they let this situation grow?" I believe it's because of the thin line between pride/anger, enthusiast/zealot, supporter/warrior. You can teach people an ideology, religious or not, but the person providing the instruction can pervert this or not.
I can tell kids about a married man's life, but if I teach them and keep the idea that extra-marital relations is not only the norm, but encouraged, they will feel it's true. Such is the case with teaching kids solely about religion and a militant party's beliefs, and nothing else. What else was going to happen?
Pakistan is a failed Islamic state. NOW the world is realizing what the Indians have experienced for a generation. Their temples destroyed, their wealth taken, their religion destroyed, their women kidnapped. The world is now waking up to the reality of Islam.
One should love humanity. Let us unite and clean the world from these uneducated wild people from 400 hundred years ago. Let us all on the earth pray and do our best to help the innocent victims. Long live America. Please help the world, and make them vanish. May the mighty please help us to vanish them. If my sacrifices are needed, I am there. Age 64 but active.
The biggest terrorist in the world is the United Sates of America. I was growing up in Pakistan when the Russians destroyed Afghanistan and then the US abandoned Pakistan after using that nation. Pakistan's weakness is its bad location, surrounded by enemies. However, the evil the Americans have done to this world, will indeed lead to its complete disintegration. Already we are seeing signs of it. The Taliban are the ones who helped save America from the ever growing Soviet expansionism. If Pakistan would have been helped in educating its masses, extremism would never have flourished.
Why could we the citizens of Islamabad not watch and see this film? Please let us have the opportunity to see it and then comment on it. Dr Ghayur.
FRONTLINE/World's editors respond:
To protect certain people whose participation in the film may make them the target of threats, we made a decision to block access to the video in Pakistan.
This ongoing war with the Taliban will have further fallout in Pakistan and in turn more extremists will be produced to threaten Pakistan's and the world's peace. If you notice all the kids shown in the video being recruited have similar characteristics: Extreme poverty - not being able to feed themselves and their families.
No access to education other than that of madrassas and most of them not even having proper shelter. Therefore to win this war, a long term strategy is needed to eliminate the above problems in those areas
So far in this film and in many others, I've never seen even an average educated kid or adult with a stable financial family background joining or being recruited by the Taliban. Hence I come to the conclusion that the Taliban is exploiting the problems of those people and they are joining them more than any other reason just to survive poverty, hunger, disgrace and shame.
More spending is needed in that area to provide some sort of jobs and education -- that itself will enlighten people towards a moderate kind of thinking rather than hardcore extremist view. On one front the Army and its counter insurgency should be conducted to eradicate the present Taliban. But what is more important, is the long term stability of the region that will come if -- and only if -- heavy spending is done in education and the economy in that area.
Very good documentary... It's good to see the true face of terror and the true cowards they are and the shameful way they use children as weapons. I also enjoyed reading the Taliban rebuttals on this page and their pathetic transparent attempts to hide these truths... Kudos to Sharmeen for a job well done. Thank you!!
Only a country that really wants to defeat terrorism can do it.There will be a lot of international pressure to try to learn to live side by side.
Yet even if you try to come to an understanding, the terrorists will not be satisfied until they consume you completely and control the whole country. Once having done this they will want more. Power has no limit. First Pakistan, then they will want more.
Take a lesson from Sri Lanka, the only country to defeat terrorism.
As per the FBI the LTTE were the worst of the worst terrorist in the world that could not be defeated. So they thought. But a tiny country proved otherwise.
The West does not understand the mind set of the East. To the West, money can buy anything. They think that the world will dance to their tune by throwing a few bucks.
This is excellent reporting. It's a shame that the rest of our media have given up on the news business and can do little more than regurgitate each other's stories, adding only their own spin. I don't know what we would do for news these days, if it were not for PBS and the BBC.
As Sharmeen points out, this is a fight for the allegiance of the people of large portions of Pakistan and Afghanistan, and the local people have by no means given up the fight. The Taliban's tactics are not new -- we have seen them dozens of times in places all across the world -- to terrorize the adults and to indoctrinate the children. This strategy has been beaten before, and can be beaten again, if Pakistan and the rest of the world offer a consistent strategy.
The Taliban are primarily funded by Saudi money. This problem cannot be solved without involving Saudi Arabia, but so far we have been afraid of doing so. We have invested in a regime in Saudi Arabia -- the house of Saud -- and we are hesitant to weaken it by forcing them to clamp down on their own people.
Saudi Arabia itself is a nation in peril, with hundreds of princes vying for power, a population growing increasingly restive as millions of people are left out of their share of the oil money, etc. It's an extremely unstable situation, and the U.S. is necessarily cautious about putting too much pressure on it. But sooner or later we will have to do something, because so long as they can continue to export Wahabism and the money to back it up, the world will remain a dangerous place.
The Pakistani government and military are in a tough spot. On the one hand, they created the Taliban, and hope to continue to use them against the U.S. and India. On the other hand, they cannot tolerate flagrant attacks on their own authority. And now they are under pressure, because if they don't do something, America will cut off the money tap, and then how will they send their kids to Europe or America for their education, how will they continue to build their nest eggs?
I think that we in the West need to continue along the lines many people have already mentioned: support education in Pakistan, stop the flow of Saudi money, work directly with the Pakistani people (and not their corrupt government) to help them fight the Taliban. Secular schools, some sort of functioning economy, somewhat more effective police to protect them from Taliban violence ... this may well be enough to turn the tide.
However, we also need to be prepared for the worst. If not now, the time may yet come when the only solution is to split Pakistan up. This may not be such a bad thing. The Punjabis would likely keep the nuclear weapons. They are richer and more educated, and have their own wealth to protect. They are less vulnerable to Taliban influence, and could be better trusted to keep the nuclear weapons safe, simply because they have more to lose. Punjab Sindh would be a more progressive country, freed from the burden of carrying the rest of Pakistan.
The tribal areas may need to be separated, perhaps with Baluchistan in the south and some kind of Pashtun homeland in the north. They will likely continue fighting, but without nuclear weapons, they would be less of a threat to the rest of the world. The US could support the more civilized parts of the NWFP area, such as Swat, and help establish schools, hospitals, some kind of local industry. Punjab and Sindh would no doubt support this as well, since it gives them a buffer zone between themselves and the more lawless parts further west.
Finally, we need to do something about the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. This border is ignored by the Pashtun people, and will never be sealed unless we park 100,000 American troops there forever. But there is no reason to seal it if Pasthun parts of Pakistan are united with similar parts of Afghanistan. Then they, as a country, can sort out their own problems. There is probably no way to deal with them other than letting them live their own lives as they please, but with the threat of massive retaliation if they take their fights outside their own borders.
There is nothing Islamic about Talibans -- they are rebels, murderers and barbarians.These beasts have been and are still butchering innocent Muslims and soldiers of the Pakistan Army.They are making this religion of peace look like a something bad. These murderers should be tracked, caught and eliminated once and forever.
For a moment, step back and think what are the reasons of all this. It is the American occupation of Afghanistan that is creating these problems. But no one will bother looking at this aspect of the story because the media in America never ever focuses on this issue. To average Americans, this is a just war as it was in Vietnam and in Iraq in pursuit of WMDs. Wake up please and realise that USA is occupying a country to which it came with limited goals and those goals have not been achieved. This is the bigger failure of this occupation. The biggest failure is the failure to realise that it is an occupation and it is in no one's favor.
Dr. Mohsin Ansari
This is a typical Western funded documentary to reemphasize and accentuate the same anti-Taliban hatred once again. These ignorant individuals (Talibans) are reactionaries showing their reactions after being bombed and killed by the Pakistan Army and their masters for the last seven years. The Taliban's reactions are not only wrong and dreadful but undoubtedly non Islamic. But all these highly funded documentaries discuss the reactions and the reactionaries but not the actions and the initial and brutal and barbaric conspiracies. You all are just missing the point either intentionally or unintentionally!!!
Perth, Western Australia
I have a mix of awe and respect for Shameen because of the courage and personal risk that she put herself into to make this documentary. I pray that Shameed may continue to live and to express the views of both sides of the conflict in safety.
What I learned from this is that we (meaning the Pakistani govt as well as citizens from the West in particular) need to realize the sort of issues that go on in the rest of the world. That using purely military might to obliterate a terrorist group will never work, because when you kill innocent lives, it will only plant seeds of resentment and hatred which is the perfect environment to cultivate young and impressionable minds to become terrorists. In their minds they are only militant defenders of the poor and oppressed.
We must reach out to these people with respect and dignity, to lift them out of poverty, provide them with education and jobs and also teach them a moderate form of religion.
Mankind only wishes to live in peace and harmony, but when you have nothing and you are repressed, you accept the hand of whoever reaches out to you. Governments must also curb corruption and provide assistance to all of their citizens.
May the policy makers of the world watch this documentary.
Daytona Beach, Florida
This is certainly one of the best pieces of journalism that I have ever seen.
One of the greatest victims here is the religion of Islam. Many of the beliefs of the Taliban by themselves are idealistic in nature. How many Muslims, or people of any other faith for that matter, believe in sacrificing their lives for just causes? As an example, aren't Americans doing it everyday in Afghanistan and Iraq by fighting for what they believe to be a just cause? But the combination of these ideals with an extremist mentality is an ugly one.
It's amazing to see how easily the Taliban have hijacked the Islamic religion to their own purposes. They have taken what's good about Islam and corrupted it into a senseless war of jihadism and righteousness. Killing people is wrong. Forcing others to concede to your way of thinking is wrong. The Taliban are hateful, malicious and manipulative so-called leaders who breed nothing but more of the same. They take advantage of young, poor helpless people by providing them with the basic elements of a human life: food, shelter and sense of existence. And at such a young and impressionable age. Really, the Pakistani government should be deeply ashamed that they could not (or would not) do the same. Pakistan started as an ideology of what was good in Islam. It's incredibly hard to watch the country disintegrate into a distorted view of what Islam is all about. Kudos to Chinoy for braving such an incredible journey. I personally hope the Taliban rot in hell for their deception, hate and notorious tunnel vision.
San Francisco, California
What an amazing video, very comprehensive. One is horrified while watching. Yet, at the same time, as I listened to the commander talk about the recruitment of children (boys) and listened to the teenagers talk about guns and killing, I could see the similarities with the gun-loving, macho culture that we live in. Six and seven year old boys here would like to walk around with those with guns, feeling powerful -getting power. Don't we too have suicide killers here? Yes, it's not the same, but it's also not a world away. One can see the links. Perhaps this is one reason it is so easy to recruit and so difficult to defeat these forces. The boy says -women are like plastic bags, the music video says women are things to be bought and sold. Again, not exactly the same but not as far apart as one might think or wish.
Frightening and alarming. Clearly there is some country that helped Pakistan in securing nuclear weapons. It is incumbent upon that country to come forward and destroy the arsenal before they come into the hands of fanatics who don't care who lives and who dies. All Pakistanis should be concerned because they are sitting on a time bomb that will mostly consume from within.
An excellent but highly dangerous piece of journalism. Thanks to Sharmeen for exposing the ugly faces of Taliban. It shows how beastly fanatics can become. Fortunately, we are in India where there is ample peace and safety for everyone.
This is absolutely tragic. The U.S. is partly responsible for the current events. The U.S. has been giving money to Pakistan over the years (billions of dollars) and never held Pakistan accountable. My suspicion is that most of the corrupt politicians of Pakistan have lined their pockets.
It is not implausible that some of the Taliban/Al Qaeda are involved in looting the money given by US. It is not too late to take corrective actions. Make Pakistan accountable for every penny that has been given by U.S. If they are unwilling to control the Taliban/Al Qaeda then stop the aid. And, lastly, force them to take action.
If the U.S. does not take action now, then a disaster is waiting to happen.
1. Withdraw American and NATO forces from Afghanistan.
2. Station UNO troops from neutral countries in Afghanistan.
3. Hold elections and ensure national government in Afghanistan.
4. Build power plants in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
5. Let the private sector start businesses and create jobs.
6. Build hospitals and roads,
7. Peace will come definitely.
8. Try this recipe.
God bless everyone.
This is so sad. We should not brainwash those children. We should give them proper education so that they can become the future of the country. No religion teaches to kill people.
It is terrible what is going on in Pakistan! Humiliation, fear, a helpless situation! I am sure the people in control of that country just love it!
Watching the lives that the children of northern Pakistan are living is absolutely heartbreaking. They are wide-eyed, hopeful and full of life regardless of the horrendous circumstances that they live in.
There is talk here about "stopping the cycle of violence" and policy change where our own western governments are concerned. If policy change will halt the barbaric practices of the Taliban, then perhaps that option should be examined. Unfortunately, the Taliban have made clear by their past actions in Afghanistan that their goal is a medieval Islamic emirate. That goal existed long before September 11th.
What I'm trying to express here is this: The children in this piece are victims of the Taliban, and no one else. Pakistan is on the verge of becoming a FAILED NUCLEAR STATE, at the hands of the Taliban. I truly hope that we can all agree that the Pakistani military deserves all the support it can get.
New York, New York
Top rate in every way, especially in the disurbing accounts of the Taliban in Pakistan. One particularly harrowing moment was the child's voice singing that chilling arabic nursery rhyme of finding his body in small pieces. I don't think I can forget that.
Excellent report! Sharmeen is a very brave woman. I was horrified by this video, it shows the depth of commitment that the Taliban has and the power they command. The fear the Taliban employ is merely a window dressing for their true power: economics. Sending parents food help and even money just for the chance to "educate" their children is both brilliant and disgusting. These people are not idiots -- they know that they may never see their children again but they are destitute and the Pakistani state is powerless to help them, so they turn to the Taliban. As Pakistan deteriorates, the Taliban will gain power in a negative feedback loop, caused by economic distress and the power vacuum left by the state's collapse. The only way to stop this is a massive state building exercise designed to create local jobs and foster personal responsibility and a culture intolerant of corruption. The US may not be able to do this, due to our own problems, but I hope that someone will step in and give the Pakistani people the chance to be powerful, productive and peaceful world citizens.
This documentary has left me feeling shocked at man's brutality. It is incredibly powerful.
What a wonderful piece of journalism! Pakistan created the Taliban monster with the help of the U.S. during and after the Russian invasion of Afghanistan. Now they have turned their guns against their masters. Pakistan has to wipe them out. They cannot negotiate with these barbarians who are using the name of Islam to grab power. Pakistan needs the world's help, not finger pointing, to deal with this cancer.
This was a chilling piece of journalism. The toughts it leaves behind will not go away. What is more profound than two best friends who would kill each other when confronted with the right circumstances? It shows what religion makes us willing to do. Help us all. Having pondered this piece of news only shows me how education must be brought to Pakistan. Education free for all. That is where the world has to provide for Pakistan, anything else is useless. Only educated people with abilities to fend for themselves will be in position to oppose Talibans ignorant way of existence. Having just read "Three Cups of Tea" left me with such hope and knowledge. I highly recommend it to all of the people who have watched this documentary.
Fairfax Station, VA
This is not alarming. It has been going on for last five years and now they have taken an advantage of the Pakistani government's bad policies. Now is the time for the Pakistani government to get their act together and deal with this enormous task. Thanks for this report. It is eye opening for many people.
Los Angeles, CA
Bomb the madrassas. Imprison or execute their teachers. See how quickly the supply of child soldiers dries up.
The reporter didn't ask the politicians why the public education system has collapsed. If the only education available to the poor are the Taliban, of course the country will continue to absorb Taliban ideals. Give parents a better/well-balanced alternative and the Taliban will lose their grip on future generations.
FRONTLINE/World's editors respond:
Response from Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy
I have pointed out in the film that the public system of education has collapsed because the Pakistani government has failed its people. The Pakistani government has from time to time acknowledged this failure. I also point out that if the ordinary, poor Pakistanis were given a choice they would send their children to secular schools rather than religious ones.
Until the moderate Muslims in Pakistan stand up and take their country back, the Taliban will always be a presence. They provide what the always weak government won't: law and order, food, infrastructure. For too long, those with education and money have been ignoring what's going on right under their noses because, so far at least, it doesn't affect their day-to-day lives. They still go to parties, go to weddings, spend hours at each other's houses drinking tea and discussing how the US ruined their country. They ruined their own country. Pakistan was doomed to failure from the day it declared independence. Why? Because it was founded on bribery and greed.
When I open this link I get the message "Sorry, this video is not available in your region due to rights restriction." How discriminating.
There has been a conscious effort by the US and CIA to destabilize Pakistan, manifested in these last elections which were entirely a Western project.
The road map given to this new PM
is the breakup of Pakistan (to open a new front in the "War on Terror") and the surrender of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal.
This is so as to allow for a military intervention so as to break Pakistan (like Afghanistan/Yugoslavia) into a few protectorates and war zones.
The US needs a significant military presence in Pakistan, the last country that borders Iran, which is not occupied by or a client to the US.
This is all about Oil and the fact the Iran is still a free country.
Can there be a God when events like these are taking place? Women and girls are treated no better than dogs in the street. It is difficult for us in the "civilized" world to believe those that proclaim to be messengers of God would attack the most venerable among them. That young girl witnessed a policeman slain with his head hung between his legs, and the loss of several of her family members. Just think of the nightmares she must suffer! Can you imagine what would happen if these Taliban animals got their hands on Pakistan's nuclear weapons? They would hold the world hostage! The free world couldn't let that happen, can they?
I am quite amazed after reading some of this feedback that some participants are so naive as to continue to blame U.S. involvement as an excuse for this type of behavior. In order for you to understand the roots of this problem I urge you inform yourselves on the background of Abdullah Azzam (Bin Laden's Protege), author of the book "Al Jihad." It is also quite apparent that advocates for action in Darfur state claims that the U.S is aligned with causation for actions that evolve out of Pakistan and Afghanistan. Do human or women's rights in Africa take precedent over the ones that are taking place in this region? Please do some critical thinking and research before making these ridiculous claims. Is the U.S. a saint when it comes to foreign policy? Of course not. However you do have to take into account the good things along with the bad. Put your personal politics aside should you have any real concern for this situation and provide some logical solutions that might benefit the people suffering in these regions.
Why should anyone be surprised at this? Did the world forget that it is Pakistan that created the Taliban to kick the communist regime and Russians out of Afghanistan? Now do we have to feel sorry for Pakistan. Give me a break. You reap what you so.
I'm actually glad that this is happening. It goes to confirm the age old saying "As you sow -so shall you reap." America and the ISI created the Taliban who killed many innocents they didn't like in the former soviet USSR, India and elsewhere. Guess what, the party came home for America in 2001 and now its home come for Pakistan. There is a unique justice greater than that of man.
I would like to receive world newsletters.
As someone who understood the Urdu conversation, I was fuming when I head the teacher of madrassa in Peshawar mentioned that they never run out of sacrificial lambs. The Urdu sentence sounded a lot more offensive because I immediately had picture of numerous sacrifices of goats I have seen; the picture of their heads attached by thin skin and flesh. His callous attitude towards children really bothered me. Towards the end, the child singing about the kind of death he wishes shows the exploitation of children. I wish more people could understand the words in Urdu.
New York, NY
Absolutely amazing reporting in this story. Frontline/World should be commended for giving this story the time and attention it needs and for allowing reporter Obaid-Chinoy the support and freedom to investigate this troubling development. At points, I literally felt my mouth drop open in shock. Congratulations. I hope you will continue to follow the developments in Pakistan.
After watching this documentary, one wonders where the so-called Pakistani leadership was ? How could they let so much evil grow under their noses? How could they let the children be treated like this? Why did the government not have schools for these children of the poor and provide them food and shelter? All the money that has gone to Pakistan, you do not see signs of it anywhere. What a shameful situation, for a supposedly Islamic country, that the most innocent and helpless children are recruited by these mullah monsters to train them to go blow themselves up in the name of Islam. Please, the world is moving forward. These children should be learning science and technology, instead they are memorizing the Quran. The horrible, terrible, monstrous and villainous mullah should all be hanged for their crimes against women and children. I cannot imagine the Pakistani government allowing even one madrassa to function. There is no reason that this should have happened in Pakistan, where there is so much potential and so much talent and we could have been standing more strong and secure in the world. But our leadership has again and again failed, and failed miserably. Yet we continue to have the same horrible people come and rule us. Who, at the drop of a hat, will leave the country and go to their mansions abroad, which have been bought by Pakistani money illegally obtained and legitimized by NRO.
What is sad is that if we had not neglected this segment of our society for so long, things might have been much different. The Taliban seem only to be able to gain strength because of our mistakes. They could have very easily been educated citizens striving to develop their areas, rather than burning them down to the ground. I feel we cannot only depend on our government (although it is their responsibility) anymore. It is high time for the public to help stop this virus from spreading and try and do what should have been done a long time ago: close the gap between the different segments of society.
St. Louis, MO
What an incredible documentary made by this very courageous, female Pakistani journalist. A scary eye opener that highlights the stakes in the war against Taliban and how precarious the situation really is. Bravo!
An incredible video and really terrifying, especially the last line: "Pakistan may soon belong to them." In fact, I am not against Islam but the imposition of Taliban Shariah. The story was nicely told by Ms. Obaid-Chinoy, a very courageous woman. But there are still some very important questions unanswered. What do the Taliban want? What will be the end of this movement? Is it Shariah to kill innocent people in the name of Islam? How can the American's War Against Terror end? Is there any chance of Taliban leaders to sit with higher authorities and find the solution to these acts of brutality? I am really very hopeful that we can save the lives of millions of children if we can discuss it with TTP. ALLAH NIGHEBAN. God bless you, Ms. Obaid-Chinoy.
How could you put those young girls on camera talking against the Taliban. And THEN show where they live. How absolutely irresponsible! You don't think they''ll be persecuted for appearing on a Western TV program? I used to live in Pakistan. Just because they're sitting with a press crew, doesn't make them invincible or untouchable. Unbelievable.
FRONTLINE/World's editors respond:
Response from Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy
I often work in conflict zones and am always careful to hide people's identities- In this case, the girls and their father insisted on telling us their story without hiding their face- They wanted people to look into their eyes, see what they were going through- Without their compelling testimonies most people would not realize what is happening to the people of Swat- We were very careful to hide where they lived, you never see their house from outside or the street they live on- So as a journalist i felt i did my duty- And since the film has come out the family is safe and happy to hear that so many people outside the country now know that the Taliban do not represent the people of Swat.
A rare view into what it looks like in that part of the world.
When watching, I often found myself wondering whether the translations of what people were saying were accurate. I see from one of the responses that it may not have been. I'm sure the filmmaker is presenting what she thinks is the truth, but in these types of conflicts, the truth can be different things for different people.
Buena Park, CA
After seeing the boys speak, it is apparent that they must not be spared in fighting the Taliban. They have already been brainwashed and probably will always believe what they've been taught at such young ages, becoming violent men in future. I fear for the girls though. I think most of them are anti-Taliban and are suffering terribly on a social level, never mind the state of perpetual war. They lose in this situation for their present and very probably their future as well if this abomination is not stopped
This is absolutely no different then the children recruited and murdered in the name of another power hungry megalomaniac, Pol Pot and the Khemer Rouge in Cambodia. They're mind bending and holding them with just the promise of survival, food, and places to sleep, safe from the dangers of the streets.
The Taliban ("students of religion") are fanatical, using their religion as power.
The religious border school between Pakistan and Afghanistan, funded by Islamic charities (mostly Saudi), preaches the strictest form of Islam, including self sacrifice, (ie. suicide bombers) and total suppression of women's based human rights. Pakistan has nurtured these religious schools to support their Kashmir campaign, but also to make certain Afghanistan does not become an open non-aligned country and a buffer between Shia Iran.
Until Pakistan makes the hard choice to govern the border tribal areas, there will never be peace in Afghanistan and that threatens Pakistan as a state and member of the international community.
US policy to close the border in the SE, Helmand or Kandahar Provinces will not be successful until a full and complete cooperation from Pakistan.
US Army Officer/Paktia, Khost, Ghazni Provinces/2003
Excellent. This information needs to be circulated more widely. Thanks.
Salt lake city, Utah
sigh those little girls are my heroes. They are so beautiful and bright--all of them. The first girl is such a trooper for taking care of her mother. I hope the indirect care the nurses provide for her mother will be an education for her so when it is time for her to advance she will be able to do so. The two girls obviously come from a very loving family. I am glad you showed how it is not the community, but the restrictions put on the community that makes it how it is. Those girls are the cream of the crop.
It is crazy how the Taliban and Pakistani army are both playing off the vulnerability of the displaced and poor. This is how it usually is though. It's a shame. I feel so helpless. When I look at them, they are all humans stuck in a crappy situation. I want to scoop them all up, and take them home. Yet, this is idealized hope. I wish them all the best, and hope I can help them in the future.
Charlotte Amalie, VI
What a delightfully informative piece of reporting. Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy is to be commended in the form of many, many prizes for giving us an up-close and tangible assessment of conditions on the ground in Pakistan. If this intrepid reporter could uncover so much, it makes you wonder what the U.S. military top brass REALLY think of extending the U.S. presence in this region.
If you are interested in making a real difference for Swat Valley girls and their education please visit: www.swatvalleygirls.com.
anonymous, boston, ma.
Great job, Sharmeen and I commend you on your courage and bravery traveling to Pakistan and covering all the news. It is a shame what is happening there, especially with the young children who are so impressionable. I hope and pray the Pakistani government will not have to eat their words when they said that they will definitely win this war against the Taliban. Do they not see what is happening? How can any country look to a better future when their schools are destroyed?. When little girls are not allowed to go to school. When all the Taliban wants to do is use these very kids as sacrificial lambs for slaughter.
New York, New York
I think it's already too late to save Pakistan. Life as they have known it will soon end. It's only a matter of time before the Taliban completely take over the place.
The civilian leadership is too weak to order the army to do anything. Most of the aide that Pakistan receives from abroad will find its way into the bank accounts of corrupt politicians. The recent peace deal in Swat was approved by the Pakistani parliament in one day with 2 people in the assembly speaking against it. It was approved unanimously because the Taliban threatened to kill anyone opposing it. Can you imagine a situation where elected leaders are too scared to speak in parliament and will simply rubber stamp something like this?
So instead of wasting any more time, the US should quickly put plans in place to destroy Pakistan's nuclear capabilities. Once that is out of the way, we can all breathe a lot easier.
This is a brilliant documentary and explains very lucidly what is happening around us. It tries to give a holistic picture as well --a truly brave and commendable feat by the journalist. It explains much more than any voluminous report could. People are understandably worried here in Pakistan, but there is also denial which we need to come out of. We must resist this onslaught, which will destroy this nation and set it back a thousand years. It has to be done now not just by force alone (that too unfortunately will have to be used), but by rooting out the main causes that have resulted in the quagmire we are in. Education is the key but it has to be supplemented with a sound justice system and economic opportunities. Easier said than done. But we have to start now and I really mean NOW.
Amazing peace of journalism. You are a brave woman. Just to see the Taliban makes my blood boil. Too bad our army generals are in bed with them.
This is a haunting piece of work. Thanks to Frontline and to Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy.
I am from India and after watching this and several others like it, the only thing which comes to my mind is that India is going to have very, very bad decade. All of these fanatics will not come after any western countries but they will come after my country. And I hope my country's administration is closely watching and doing something about it
San Diego, CA
Centuries of so-called progress and yet this is what we get. A country with the most sophisticated and deadly weapons ever created by man, that are capable of ending the world in a real sense, are being taken over by religious zealots who would have felt right at home 2,000 years ago. Clearly, many parts of humanity have not progressed much. The real danger though is that we are all very much like the Pakistani's. All of us are just one generation away from being in their shoes. And as NAazi Germany shows, even the most civilized of countries can commit real evil and act in irrational and self destructive ways. I can only conclude, based on this documentary, that human beings are flawed beyond redemption.
I am glad I saw this video a few days back because it says its restricted in our region now. Great work. Which neighbourhood in Karachi was it?
I just don't understand Muslims killing Muslims in suicide attacks. How, under Islam, can we have justice for suicide bombers? Can we trace the family, mosque and school to make them pay for such disruption of society?
I stumbled upon this documentary on my local PBS station by accident. I am also originally from Pakistan and have been living in the USA for several years. It seems that lately all the news are full of stories about the Afghan-Pakistan violence. I did not realize the extent of this violence until I actually saw this documentary. Sharmeen mentions that people used to go to the Swat Valley for vacation. My family and I took that trip once and it was beautiful. I am extremely sad to see what is becoming of those beautiful parts of my country.
I just want to find a way to help these children who are getting all the wrong information about the religion of Islam and even the rest of the world. I come from a family that has always emphasized the importance of a good education. In my opinion, a lot of these problems are rooted in the fact that Pakistan has such a low literacy rate. I think one way to help these children break the cycle of violence is to educate them. What Afghanistan and Pakistan need are books and dedicated educators, not guns and bombs.
These people are hopelessly backwards. The USA needs to withdraw from this hopeless part of the world and devote itself to completely ending its use of foreign oil. The Taliban are like Nazis, you either crush them or get completely away from them. Since we don't have a legitimate national interest, we should completely leave the Middle East and find a way to end all involvement. They must work out their own horrible problems without us.
The parallels to other terrorist organizations around the world is very disturbing. The use of FM radio to control and direct an entire population is very similar to the role played by RTLM during the Rwandan Genocide. The brainwashing of children and their exploitation as child foot soldiers and suicide bombers is taking a page out of the LTTEs tactics in Sri Lanka. Considering these parallels, here is a wake-up call to all those who think that the Taliban/Al-Qaeda will not be able to take control of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal or even if they do, will not have the ability to operationally use it. The LTTE was able to build several rudimentary aircrafts in the jungles of Sri Lanka. Though operating a nuclear weapon is several orders of magnitude more complicated, I would not put it out of the reach of Al-Qaeda/Taliban in Pakistan. Scary thought. Hope the US and Pakistan intelligence agencies have a contingency plan in place to prevent such an eventuality!
This piece reaffirms my belief that the only way to eliminate this virus of an ideology is complete destruction. I am saddened that it has to come to this but those of us who have evolved into beings that have the ability to live together peacefully and respect each others religion can not tolerate a virus such as this that wants to inflict death upon the very basic fiber of our world. Like a virus, they destroy their host until the host dies. They do not value life and there is no reasoning with them. In WWII we dropped atomic weapons that although killed thousands of lives, mostly civilians, prevented the deaths of millions. It is time to strike once again using all means necessary. Exterminate all life in the region so the rest of us who can live together in peace move on.
I am shocked. I know for a fact that tonight i will get a disturbed sleep in my comfortable air conditioned Bombay bedroom.
Where is the Taliban getting the money from? it is important to figure out the source behind all this.
San Francisco, CA
Teaching children to love weapons and to hate other religions has an all too familiar ring to it.
I don't have much to add to what's been said beyond this question. These folks are taking starving children and training them to be killers because their parents cannot feed and educate them. If the area is so poor, where is the Taliban getting the money to do this? Unbelievably heartbreaking.
I was so moved by this doc that I had to share it with my online friends. What a brave journalist and crew! Thank you.
There is one side story, as you tells people very innocently. As the rule, every action has some reaction. Why did you people forget about the drones attack done by Americans on innocent people of tribes. Are they not humans? Ok leave it. Tell me who is responsible in Baluchistan? When you kill these innocent people on account of terrorism, what do you think they're left with? Different nations have multipurpose benefits from this region. What you don't understand is that in every war there is murder of humanity. War is not the solution to any problem. You stop drones attack, you provide basics life facilities, health and education, believe me no problem will create.
FRONTLINE/World's editors respond:
Response from Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy
My film clearly shows the devastation caused by drone attacks in Pakistan. While examining the conflict in Pakistan i do ask the difficult questions one must from the Pakistani Army, the Pakistani government as well as from the American government.
Simply amazing work. I am astounded at the courage this young woman has, and it is an inspiration to me. Only God knows what will eventually happen but I pray God will help me do something about it.
Los Angeles, CA
Thank you for your excellent, informative piece. My highest praise to your reporter for her courage and commitment. I hope the Obama administration takes heed.
How strange that you make a piece on Pakistan and Pakistanis are not able to view it from Pakistan.
Hats off to the reporter and the camera crew.
You guys have done a great work in getting close to the reality and sharing it with the world. Very brave work.
All i have to say is thank you so much. You are amazing.
As an American-Muslim woman, by this I mean I was born in America and accepted Islam as an adult, this piece saddens me. This is not the message that Islam teaches, at least not from my perspective. Bombing, blowing yourself up and taking innocent lives is not what God tells us to do. This is part of man's desire to be in power. This small group of men have hijacked my Islam and are using it to fit their own needs and personal views. I pray that Allah opens their hearts and minds to see what they are doing is wrong. Amen.
Of course this is disturbing, but not surprising at all. You'd have to have had your head in the sand to not know about the brutal tribal mentality that is festering and growing exponentially in all areas of the middle east. Unfortunately, I don't see any end in sight, nor solution. I fear for mankind and do not want any grandchildren, period.
An extraordinary film but one that is ultimately only conveying one side of the story. What is clearly missing is why this civil war phenomenon has appeared in Pakistan. The Pak Army's brutal and wholesale murder of villagers and razing their entire land to the ground is a war crime and a crime against humanity. How is that glossed over but the revenge (which I don't condone) is greatly magnified.
Also, no mention is made of the massacre of the Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) in 2007 by the Pak Army where Pakistani soldiers massacred hundreds of schoolgirls and teachers at a madrassa. This is what set off the massive wave of suicide bombing in the country as a sort of revenge by whatever and whichever means.
Also, why not mention that the Pakistani state has utterly failed, education being the first to fall? The madrassas are only flourishing because state schools have zero funding and resources by a corrupt government only interested in lining its pockets and stashing the loot in Swiss banks as in the case of Zardari and his minions.
Covering just one side of the story is not just deceptive, it also creates a false view that ultimately results in failure to solve the crisis.
Excellent report. Kind of makes all the news coverage of the economic downturn seem trivial in comparison.
Incredible. Thank you.
An incredible piece. As a student of security studies, Arabic and the media, this documentary was enlightening on so many levels. The dismal reality of Pakistan makes my stomach tie into a knot. It hurts to think about the stories you portrayed; it is excruciating to realize that they represent a tiny fraction of an expanding base of jihadism. I believe that the resources of the US government can solve the challenges we face there. I'm entirely skeptical of the Pakistani government though.
Correspondent Chinoy was awfully brave & as committed, I think, as the Taliban she reported on. But so were the civilians who responded so openly to her questions. Greed & disregard of the sacredness of life have made all sides blind to the evil inflicted on humanity everywhere. What a shame. We're all doomed if this is not corrected. And no one in power seems interested in correcting anything for the time being.
Your reporting is vivid, inspiring, frightening. I am terrified not of the evil in foreign lands, but of the evil of my own domestic leaders that continue to repeat the same mistakes that have placed the entire world on this collision course. Amen.
East Meredith, New York
From the madrassa teacher: "No matter how many Muslims die, we will never run out of sacrificial lambs... Someone who sees death as a blessing - who can defeat him?" And the man who recruits children as suicide bombers: "Children are tools to achieve God's will."
Folks, let's get real, the Taliban will succeed in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. The US's involvement in these two feudal, dreadfully corrupt societies will not change the outcome, but we're too ignorant and proud to recognize that. America is incapable of admitting error or defeat.
These brainwashed children are a just a blood-thirsty version (albeit much poorer) of the brainwashed youth at Yeshivas and Christian universities and Bible schools.
Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy's reporting was compelling and unbelievably brave. Revelations uncovered here in this 1/2 hour story were profound...this was raw - unhampered by slickness of any kind. The truth and power of this story will stay with me for a very long time.
If only the CIA, ISI and Saudis would start cooperating again and try to undo the ill-effects of the monster they created 30 years ago, perhaps we can begin to reverse this problem.
This is the 3rd generation of the Taliban. The originally brainwashed no longer need the devils that manipulated them from the outside. They swallowed the pill of hate whole and are now passing it on to the next generation. The ignorant are infecting the destitute with their ignorance and snowballing the cancer that we short-sightedly injected into that region.
Everyone needs to learn the lessons of past mistakes and not contribute to this problem any longer. We know the Russians and Indians have a prime opportunity to slap back at Pakistan and the US by surreptitiously arming and egging on the Taliban, but once these monsters feel they have settled their score with the Pakistani government, they'll quickly revert to targetting Hindu India and expanding into Russia's southern -Istan neighnors.
This is a psycological and socio-economic war more so than anything else. There needs to be a mass propogation of moderate, mainstream, AUTHENTIC Islam both on the airwaves but also by the seizure and building of alternatie madrassas for these poor children.
Instead of feeding feudal land families and obese military generals with the billions we send in military and economic aid, we need to start using it to build infrastructure and opporutinites in the ravished regions.
Anyone that says America should just forget about this region will be in for a rude awakening soon.
Emerson, New Jersey
This was a brilliant piece of journalism. Very informative, though at the same time scary.
I wanted to write an opposing view but am afraid to put my name or email address so not sure if it will get posted (so much for freedom of speech) like there are foreign invaders in their country and Taliban are the people who are resisting it. Obvious thing to ask will be to find out that if they are so brutal, why do they have such a huge following? (It's propaganda 101 to use education/kids/girls to show how brutal these people are.) Just like in their propaganda, they use Jerry Springer to show how women are treated in the West. I speak both Pashto and Urdu and it's pretty obvious that the translation was twisted. It's a little more complicated than as black and white it's shown in the documentary.
Superb and courageous reporting. We all owe a debt to Sharmeen. Thank you Sharmeen.
The piece raised a question for me that I had not previously considered: What happens inside families, perhaps those newly coming under Taliban influence, where boys are brainwashed in militants' madrassas while their sisters' schools are destroyed? Internally, families must have clashing views sometimes. Maybe son turns against parents' liberal secular views, and daughter learns to hate the Taliban, even as her brother joins them?
How can the Pakistani government empower liberal, courageous and peaceful voices? ...It must provide security, services, and speedy justice. But all these are so difficult for a corrupt, bankrupt government with selfish leadership.
They and we must try, though, because there's no alternative. And we should begin by helping and protecting the youth, as this piece so rightly makes clear. That's the take-away for me: this problem is growing among the youngest generation. The unstated parallel argument is: The solution must grow among the youngest generation, as well.
I think this reporting builds on common stereotypes filled through western media. It reaffirms to many Western viewers who are quite ignorant when it comes to politics outside their regions, the context with which these events happen.
It seemed the whole documentary was designed and play upon fears and negative views towards people who are Muslims, believe in the Koran, and are from Pakistan.
What a fabulous piece of journalism. Obaid-Chinoy's courageous piece opened my eyes to the reality of the region. I would be surprised if she doesn't win an award for this piece.
The focus on the plight of girls brought heart and soul to the piece that illustrated the future at stake for their lives.
You cannot deny from this piece that the Taliban is following a winning strategy. Start with the children. School the next generation and soon you have taken over the whole country. Frightening!
New Brunswick, NJ
An eye-opener ... but no one is talking about the root of this hatred which can be seen in the eyes of those young boys,, they have lost ther families and property at the hands of American drone strikes and Pakistan army offensive ... they are way too easy targets for Talban to recruit, there is a need of change in policies ... otherwise you can't control this anger ... this is in there blood to take revenge
Very powerful and insightful coverage into the victimized isolated life of innocently brainwashed people. I don't know if I feel fortunate to be not living in this war-torn area or unfortunate to be living in same times as these!
Solution is :
Education should be made COMPULSORY and FREE untill class 10 in Govt school for every Pakistani school and world should help Pakistan in this regard.
Then Madrassah will have have no children to brainwash.
These kids go to madrasssah because they can not afford schools.
The documentary is insightful in what it covers. What remains is the fact that the Pakistani military has no real interest in fighting the Taliban, who were their favored party in the first place. The Taliban enjoy huge popularity in the Punjab, where the vast majority of Pakistani army and its elite hail from. The Pakistani opposition party (Nawaz Sharif's Muslim League) tried to bring Shariah Law all over Pakistan when it was in power last time but was blocked by Benazir Bhutto's party in the Senate (which has equal representation from all provinces).
The Swat was a liberal area, autonomously ruled. It had a very high literacy rate for women, hospitable people, women wore no veil has the story indicates, a tourist destination with a ski resort and ancient statues of the Buddha. It was forcibly annexed by Pakistan in 1969 and has now been abandoned to the Taliban.
West Lafayette, Indiana
From this excellent yet frightening piece, its obvious childhood indoctrination is the key to Taliban's survival.
US and Pakistan must learn as soon as possible to combat this and stop bombing indoctrinated people. The amount they've spent in bombs, had it been spent for infrastructure to provide for jobs and education, this problem could've been lessened.
The world should put pressure on the Pakistani government to carry out the proposed madrassa reform. Former president Musharraf talked about it but did not actully do it. The madrassa curriculum needs to be regulated and government needs to dispatch inspectors to check its implementation. Also, if the US is sincere about peace, which most Pakistanis don't think they are, then should help Pakistan build schools (to replace the madrassas) rather than giving blank checks to the Pakistani military
It is shocking to see Taliban are using small children for their evil deeds. No religion teaches you suicide bombing or destruction. I am surprised by Pakistani Government, they are not doing enough to stop Talibanisation. Please Stop destroying our lovely Pakistan from these extremist people.
My husband is from Lahore, Pakistan. This video is so true. He went to Swat Valley on vacation a couple of years ago it was so beautiful. It was a place with simple people who were friendly. This is a sin against these people and against Islam. This is not the Islam which normal people believe in. These are people who are hijacking the religion for there own benefit. I blame the Pakistani people for allowing these government to be in place. It started with Musharaff and Continue with the current government.They are robbing the country and sending the money to Swiss bank accounts. The people of Pakistan need to put their differences aside for the good of Pakistan. Under the spirit which it was founded on, rise up as one people, as good Muslims, and start with the children. Give them education. I am so upset because I know what Pakistan once was and now what it has become. Pakistani are not bad people but the leadership are the ones who are bad.
Recruit process toward brainwashing: Mosque Madrasa Memorize Koran=Jihad. And the peace is where?
We are in control of Pakistan. This anti-Pakistan campaign launched by America with the connivance of India and Israel will be defeated. We are in effective control of our teritory our nuclear weapons are safer than any nations on earth. Our pilots didnt take off with loaded nuclear missiles. The US should back off Pakistan and let it handle its mess albeit the mess was created by the US.
Another reason to get our forces out of these quagmires and concentrate on our own problems. Let these people settle their own differences, which would only be lessened without the U.S. fueling their hatred. We are the root of the problem. The Taliban will turn to dust with time, but we cannot be the force to bring about such change.
This is very, very scary as it's so true. I hope we can get rid of all these kind of people from Pakistan. The only one way to win the war against the Taliban is to keep your morale high and our Army can finish them off.
New York, NY
This is both chilling and awe inspiring. Chilling that this is happening not in the backwaters of Afghanistan but close to the heartland of Pakistan and being closely watched by groups in India and Bangladesh. The potential social damage is catastrophic in the region. It is also destroying Islam and the centuries of scholarship and jurisprudence that went into developing it - its like going BACK to the Dark Ages (I'm a medievalist so I hate the term but its figurative) once you've had a Renaissance. The courage and quality of reporting is awe inspiring and I hope that the "moderate majority" in South Asia finally speaks out against this in the highest halls of political and social power. See for example: www.themangodiaries.blogspot.com
E. Sosa Lerin
Absolutely superb, thought-provoking and solid journalism.
We desperately need more journalism stories like this one, and especially they need to be more widespread.
I certainly appreciated the focus given to the relevant role children play in conflicts, not only as victims, but unfortunately as potential actors, and as statetic military commodities. I find that that one of the few people who has actually discussed this last issue to a greater extent has been General Romeo Dallaire in relation to the genocide in Rwanda. Children aren't viewed as human beings, but as cost-effective, easy-to-persuade, and abundant objects for battle.
Although it was hearbreaking to listen to the boys declaring how they'd eventually join the Taliban, there were glimpses of hope and resistence in the girls testimonies, who desperately want to be given a chance at education. However, they were just glimpses. As children however, there isn't much they can do; just like the boys have no educational options, but the religious indoctrination, the girls have no choices either.
Saudi Arab is exporting their version of Islam to the world. There are no other options left for Pakistan but to fight it out with them. Ok, they may have a lot of supporters but there are lots of people who hate the Taliban and their policies. If it is to be civil war to root them out, so be it. Saudi Arab has made a mess out this world this, wahabism is just destroying every thing. Lets see where it will take us from this point..
This documentry no doubt is a very thorough and brave work. But this also makes it clear that the Taliban do not have the means or motivation to use modern ways to get information. Someone is providing them with the equipment and the information. Pakistan is certainly not doing that. You in the US may think this is our mess but there was no such problem in our areas before American occupation of Afghanistan . And the blame for a mess created in this part of the world all lies on American shoulders . Ihave no sympathy whatsoever for Taliban, Al Qaeda or for American soldiers for that matter .... for these are the parties playing these bloody games in this region .... may they all perish in humiliation and defeat .... but that is for now only a wish for me ...
San Francisco, CA
Incisive and revealing reporting. Thank you Frontline/World for providing the means for these stories to be told. It is a sad thing to see the children suffer such grim fates.
Its is so sad to see what has happened to this beautiful valley of Swat. These madrassas are actually bomb factories except the bombs are these innocent kids. I don't think corrupt and unstable Pakistani government is capable to handle this crises. Again USA and Pakistan can't use force to curb this movement, its a long fight where they have to win hearts.
Incredible piece of journalism, and it can't be stressed enough how inspiring Sharmeen's courage is - not only in risking her life but in exposing herself to an ideology that ranks her in importance next to plastic bags. As singularly horrifying as the Taliban movement is, I've seen more Christian fundamentalist groups than I'd like in the United States preaching a fire with fire approach of militarizing faith to battle Islamic extremism. I'm afraid violence and suppresion are the inevitable results of religion or any system of belief that places superstitious values above human life,and the fact that some of religion's most ruthless minions are close to having access to nuclear arms is very frightening.
This was a power story. Reminds me when I was a child in Cuba and how manipulation of children was imposed by governments. Thanks for sheding some light about the situation thru the eyes of children.
I, too, experienced difficulty sleeping after watching this. We are witnessing the de-evolution of a society that has elements who are, sadly and disturbingly, gaining strength and adherents every day due to the widespread poverty and ignorance the government seems powerless to address. The very real scare is that should Pakistan join the ranks of failed states which have a recent history of Islamic fundamentalist extremism - as in as Somalia - we will be looking at the first potential terrorist haven with known nuclear weapons.
I am a Pakistani American and am disgusted with the Pakistani Government to accept defeat from Talibans and giving away Swat.A.N.P. and Zardari both are guilty of this surrender.
I hope they learn quickly that Talibans are going to start spreading to other areas.
Very interesting video and I have learned lots of things about Taliban that I did not know. I remember that when I was young I used to go to to Swat for vacation and now its a war zone, how sad. I believe that if Pakistan government let Taliban prosper in their big cities, Pakistan will soon be a failed state.
Great documentary, however I wish the author would have dug a bit deeper into the root history of this conflict and origins of thr Taliban for the benefit of most viewers whose ignorance is evident in the above comments. Beyond the kooky Mullahs, this disaster is primarily the fault of the Soviets, the Americans, the Al Saud monarchy, and not least of all the Pakistani government who for the past 30 years has worked diligently to nurture this monster and continues to do so to this day.
Truly the Taliban are not true Muslims. For as Muslims in war, one must not hurt women and children. "When you kill a person, you kill the world." This is another reason you shouldn't kill people. Obviously, someone has forgotten forgiveness. Inshallah, may God bless this report and people who know true justice can help alleviate this problem of injustice.
Can you tell me that if the condition is so bad for women, how were these women able to make this documentary? A propaganda is going on with media against Pakistan. I assure you, Pakistan will remain a power in the world for some time to come. Pakistan is only facing vacuum at the top of the government. The day, Pakistan has a leadership, it will be an unparallel state in the world.
Prague, Czech Republic
When these extremists get close enough to taking control of the Pakistani state and their nukes (which given the government and military corruption is inevitable) you're going to see war with India and the U.S. first, and between east and west thereafter. This is not an overestimate, it is a fact of nuclear armament. And if you want to know what a poverty stricken, brainwashed people can accomplish in a war against a corrupt government (one that exists only to line individual pockets) just read Cuban history.
I am really surprised to read such a concocted story. First of all, so-called Taliban in Swat or Pakistan are not Pakistanis and not Muslims. As, Islam prohibits killing of people human beings. In Islam killing of one person is killing a whole humanity, and saving one person is like saving the whole human race. So Islam is the only religion in the World that condemns any type of killing, destruction or bombing. Second, it is in Quran that "there is no imposition in Islam." No one is forcefully compelled to embrace Islam. These are very few examples that are quoted just to tell you people that Islam is not like that what is going on in Swat. The first verse of Quranic revelation is all about importance of education. Therefore, in the name of Islam few extremists, intervened from outside Pakistan, conduct activities going on in that area. It is very unfortunate that the government has totally failed to redress or stop those infiltrations in the valley. Question is who are the people committing all those inhuman crimes in Swat? Answer is very simple that those people do not wish to see Pakistan be developed and a prosperous country. Pakistan is going through a transition and the people of Pakistan sacrificing their lives to develop a great Pakistan. Every developed country had to face such grim realities to transform into a developed or prosperous country. America was 85 years old when there was a civil war in the USA against slavery. It was 1861 and Abraham Lincoln was the president. In the UK, during the years of 1762-94 there were 8 wars in the name of religion, between Protestants and Catholics. In 1761-74 there were 4 wars in the name of Religion in France. These are few examples that expose that every country had different conflicts in the beginning and they took time to resolve them.
Here is another analysis that will give some grounded realities of the world politics and how they propagate against Islam, Muslims and Pakistan. In 1945, the USA dropped nuclear bombs upon Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the worst terrorist attack in the world. In 1996, the Oklahoma Olympics bomb blasted and one person was killed and another one died of hear attack. In 1971, during Munich Olympics in Germany, 11 players were killed. In 1991 the US invaded in Iraq, again in 2001 invaded Afghanistan, in 2003 Iraq for imposing democracy in those areas of the world. Intervening in any country without any reason is against the UN charter. George Bush himself said that he did not find any WMD in Iraq. It was a mistake, etc. Despite all this in America 9/11 incident shows that insecurity in America is at the worst level. Few weeks back in Uptown New York a person entered in a building and killed 13 people. In 2007 in the Virginia tech university a person killed more than 20 people in a shoot up. In India mass killing of Muslims, Christians and Sikhs happened at a large scale, especially Ahmad abad, Gujrat and Babri Mosque incidents are a matter of grave concern. In UK Muslims are threatened on the bases of baseless charges. Recently, America issued a list of terrorist organizations in the world, comprised of 42 terrorist organizations. There was not a single terrorist organization that was based in Pakistan. In Harlem, a very popular place in New York, it was impossible for the people to go independently in that area in early 1980s. Racial differences in the history of UK and the US are open secrets in the world. Even today, I asked many blacks in the US about racial discrimination. They will tell you such bitter realities that are condemnable.
All these facts shows that every country in its beginning do have such types of disparities and time was taken to resolve them.
For the sake of argument we take the example of Swat that ok people of Swat if believe that they are happy with the law of Sharia who we are to restrict them for opting that choice? Is that not democracy? Where are human rights organizations? Who respect for public opinion. In this 21st century there is a Society in America lives in the form of tribe in Pennsylvania, called as Amish tribe. They do not like modernism. They don not have electricity, gas, automobiles, television, radio, fridge or other developments of today world. Even the leader of Amish society few decades back convinced more than 100 people for a mass suicide. The documentaries like "Twist of Faith," and "Deliver us from Evil" are pertinent examples that what is happening in Churches when children abused by clergymen. Hence, propagators should keep all these things in their mind that killing, extremism, parochialism, conservatism, fundamentalism are such things that exist everywhere in the world. Anything can happen in America, UK, India; Israel is not shown on TV channels as it is shown when a little thing happened in the Muslim world especially in Pakistan. For example, a case of Mukhtara Mai was hyped in the national and international media on a large scale. In the USA every second case in the federal court is based on women abuse, there are thousands of Mukhtara Mais in developed world. The same type of incidents happens in UK. Poverty in India is touching astronomical figures; women are forced into prostitution. On all Internet websites, people can easily find xxx porn movies of INDIA, USA, UK, CANADA, ITALY, Japan, and other developed countries, but no one can find any such movies among Muslim country. That there may be few exceptions cannot be denied. It shows that morally developed world kept people in such types of circumstances that they easily indulged in immoral activities. These societies are poor enough as far as family bonds are concerned. This is where the shoe pinches. Today the developed world believes that it has to destroy the family system in the Muslim world, especially in Pakistan, which is a nuclear power in the world after just 50 years of its existence. It is teeming with extremely skillful and talented social capital. They wish to demoralize Pakistani people and ultimately pushed them towards disappointment.
The only hurdle in the development of Pakistan is leadership that belongs to few turncoats. Few families are ruling and taking all that money from the developed world. Not a single penny is used for the development of the public. Public do not need that aid from foreign countries, only given to so called leaders and directly goes in their pockets.
I request to all readers, kindly always look into facts. Please read the Quran, you will find the reality that Islam is against all kind of cruelty, killing and women molestation. Even no other religion is in support of such nefarious activities. It is just media propagation against Muslims. We have to be vigilant.
We have to be unbiased to an extent and condemn all kinds of immoral activities wherever it happened in the US, in Pakistan, India, Iran, Israel etc. Why we are as much selective in condemning the same even worst activities when they happened in other countries of the world? Lately President Obama showed a gesture of respect towards Saudi King it criticized heavily on the CNN, Fox News and many other news channels. It shows categorically that how much these peoples are tolerant and unbiased?
Pakistan is the most developed country in the history of the world in its first 50 years. The others are scare of its talent and early developments. I assure the world that Pakistani people are mostly loving, peaceful, honest, sincere and kind hearted. There are few otherwise that are unfortunately sitting in government.
Sante Fe, New Mexico
I caught this program on KNME my local PBS April 14 after having just finished reading the book Three Cups of Tea. I was delighted to see something that seemed so timely, I couldn't believe my good fortune to catch a glimpse into the world so eloquently described in the book so soon after finishing it, that very day in fact.
I think most Americans have no idea what is happening to this country, to this region seeing it only as poverty stricken and so extremely "foreign and backward". Hopeless and worthless to affect positive change. How misguided and insular we are on this side of the world. One need only read Three Cups of Tea to understand how one person really CAN make a difference.
Thank you for the awakening. I will be passing it on to everyone I know.
I am ashamed of the so-called "Muslim" Taliban. They do not represent the true Muslims that follow the example of the Prophet.Youth were not a part of war at these early ages. Nor do the Islamic ullama agree with the Taliban regarding woman or their policy on war the killing of innocent people. The destruction of property is not the example of the sahabah .
The interview between Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy and the little girl in the medical camp was very powerful. I couldn't fight back my tears when this beautiful child was naming all of her family members who had been killed... as if she was reciting something like the alphabet... Frontline helped expose the cyclical nature of this conflict by exposing the strife the children have to deal with. Join one side or the other. But nonetheless, join.
Chevy Chase, MD
Dear John Olson of St. Cloud, MN,
With great power comes great responsibility. I feel your frustration. To simply ignore the suffering of the innocents is to surrender to cowardice of our souls. As long as I should stay alive I will forever fight evil. I fought as a US soldier in this region. I will do it again! The people who commit these atrocities are lost; the devil if you believe has shrouded their souls. Though they may think they are believers, they are not aware that the great whisperer has rotted their hearts. So my dear friend, open your heart and really listen to what your soul says. If your hear nothing, then be concerned, I will pray for you.
Excellent work. I know that the education, experiences and exposures of children at an early age are the major contributing factors to their career aspirations as adults. Examples here are the 5 year old girl who wants to be a doctor so she can help her mother and the two teenage boys -- one who wants to be in the Taliban and the other in the Pakistan military. Perhaps there is a message in that for us. The attention in the US seems to be sure that "No child is left behind" in reading in third grade. After that academic test scores are all important. The culture of the country has been that of "make money and over-consume." Over 60% of recent male college graduates are business graduates with 40% females being business graduates. I suggest we pay attention to the education and messages we are sending our own children. They are the most important asset we have and we are unable to respect the adaptive nature of each child and guide them in pursuing meaningful and contributing careers from an early age in the education setting or by our own lives and community examples. We must do better if we want to have a variety of useful and better adjusted individuals as citizens.
I watched this video the other day, and I am terrified for the children living here. They are not only living in horrible conditions, but they also have no way out. The children, who infact hold the key to the future, are just as brainwashed as the Taliban. The children continue to side with the Taliban's values and beliefs. This is bad because when the children are of age to vote, they will not choose a leader supporting equal rights, something that all people should be granted with. It is a terrible situation, and the vicious circle is continuing.
Why can't we Pakistani's watch this video? This pertains to Pakistan and it is blocked for viewing in Pakistan! What kind of journlism is this? Shermeen, please remove the restriction or shall I take your effort as an attempt towards creating a bad image of Pakistan? Your action will speak louder.
I cried while watching this video. Just thinking of what these children have to go through drove me crazy. Seeing how some of these children are brainwashed is not surprising. The Taliban have used everything against the Pakistani army, made them look like American spies to the tribal people. America should probably now realize that the war it is fighting is not a war on terror but a war that is creating more and more terror. Listening to the young girls and their father showed there are people who oppose Taliban but have been made to shut up by force. Comparing women to plastic bags is just ignorance. Islam does not say that. As many rights Islam has for a man, it has the same rights for a woman. I don't know how this issue can be solved but I know for sure that if it is not sorted out soon, Pakistan will be on the verge of destruction. Americans use every country as a "condom." They use it and then throw it away. Pakistan has to take a stand, we have to fight these people not for the Americans but for us. We have to save these children.
It sounds to me like the Taliban forget the fundamentals of an enduring society such as the valuable role of mothers, wives, and education of children that cultivate the quality of life for future generations. The more a society strays from the time-tested form of "family," the less chance the species will propegate and endure. I say let them eliminate themselves through male-only communities. Let this Mother's Day be celebrated with an extra dose of appreciation in America! And God bless the mothers, wives, and daughters of american soldiers who protect this country from the social cancer of sexism and all other backward beliefs of Talibani theocracy.
los angeles, ca
A brave and informative piece of reporting... thank you Frontline and Sharmeen. The destruction of schools and recruitment of children in the service of death and destruction is a terrible fact of war. Education, communication and civilian safety must be a priority for any international effort in defeating the Taliban.
Great work. I am sure it was difficult to get to those communities, but you managed it. Wonderful, no one will have the courage. The same applies to Afghanistan, but we will never be able to go so much deep inside, due to security concerns.
This a very sad story. My heart goes out to the people in Swat esp.the young girls and women of this city. I was in Swat for my honeymoon in 1970s and I found it to be such a beautiful scenic place with rivers flowing and roses growing everywhere. I pray to Almighty to save this beautiful place ...to send us a messaih who loves Pakistan and is not greedy Ameen.
New York, NY
Lots of people are rightly blaming Pakistan's government for supporting the Taliban.
But lets not forget history so quickly. We sent money to Pakistan to do exactly that against the Soviets. Then we walked away leaving Pakistan to fix a mess that brought the USSR down! Do you really expect a third world basketcase to have its act together? More than a superpower did?
The US shares responsibility for these crimes.
I am so overwhelmed. Thank you for this report - you scared me risking yourself for it. Not the children! Why the children? My heart breaks for these people -- and ourselves. Pray for peace and innocence and safety for our children.
new york, ny
Fantastic work by Sharmeen -- I really hope that this documentary is widely aired on TV here and in Pakistan -- it should be viewed by Holbrooke and Clinton in particular.
May Allah Subhanu wa Ta Ala bless the Taliban and give them the upper-hand to enable them to enforce the Law of Allah Azza wa Jal, Amen.
This type of stirring journalism is fast becoming a lost art. To succeed in returning such radicals to the margin we all need to provide a sustainable, prosperous, meaningful alternative. Neither negotiation nor weapons nor rhetoric will achieve the goal. Restoration of American leadership will occur when we own up to our own problems and begin working sincerely to resolve them in a truly admirable way. Our founding fathers knew that if our Republic succeeded in affording her citizens "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" it would be a shining beacon of hope in the world. We owe them our efforts to keep that beacon shining far brighter than the alluring flame of fanaticism.
I am really worried about the future of Pakistan. I am very thankful to courageous journalism shading the light on real Pakistan.Thank you so much Sharmeen for bringing this to us.
My heart goes out to the children and all the citizens living in fear and depression in the Swat Valley. It is a reminder to everyone, everywhere about the need to rebutt fundementalism in all it's forms...for this is what it grows into if left unchecked.
The conclusion at the end is: The Taliban are going to win Pakistan. That means they will be in control of nuclear tipped ballistic missiles. India is not going to stand for that and neither is the West. Are we going to have to flatten Pakistan?
Clearly some of these remarks indicate that people are unaware of the role that USA played in supporting the Taliban during the USSR occupation, and then turning its back on Afghanistan allowing it to descend into civil chaos. That, along with an ill-fated war on terror, and US support for a dictator in Pakistan for 10 years, has done little to endear people in these remote areas to the US.
The Taliban are an affront to Islam -- all Muslims know that. But as long as the West, especially the US media, continues to vilify Islam, the US will continue to be seen as the enemy. Along with our misguided polices in Afghanistan/Pakistan, which have little to do with the welfare of ordinary people, but our own geopolitical strategic goals, and our one-sided support for Israel, we will continue to fuel the propaganda on which the Taliban thrives.
Canoga Park, CA
Wow! This segment was no surprise but still it's an attention-getter. I wish I would have optomism to a peaceful solution in supressing extremist ideology but in this situation I see none. And as such, the nations who are in a position to make a diffrence should responsibly take action soon. Let us not forget 9/11 and all the innocent people who died because we did not feel at that time extremist ideology would reach our doorstep. This Taliban ideology is a pariah to humanity, education, women's rights and freedom of religion. I have no reservations personally to see the movement and those in it willfully be eliminated by any means. A strong opinion on my part but at this time the only one. I hope there is a better solution down the road.
Birmingham, Alabama, US
This is a sad day for us, I remember going to swat when I was a child. Things changed significantly over the short period of time. I say it with a heavy heart that Pakistan may not survive as a country.
Eliminate poverty = Destruction of Taliban.
The Taliban Muslims do not worship a holy deity of love, kindness and forgiveness.....As do Christians and Jews. Their religion is to spread the HATRED of women, kill those that oppose them, murder children and to destroy America. This way of life is wicked. How does one make a "peace treaty" with wickedness unless they too are the same. PAKISTAN is NOT a country to be trusted.
@the first anonymous response : The taliban are as much the creation of the CIA as they are Pakistan's creation. Lets not throw all the blame for the Taliban on Pakistan
@ Sin, CA you want the US to be involved in Pakistan as well? Fighting three wars would be a lot, even for the US.
The best strategy is to work with the Pakistani government. Essentially the problem is a weakened state in those areas. Financial aid and military support is probably the only way out.
Yet another useless fake documentary that tries to convince the people of America that bombing thousands more drones within Pakistan might help cure the problem.
Don't you think it's lame to say that the Taliban get their huge funding from the street crimes within Karachi. Hilarious, isn't it ? Sharmeen, do you really think that the fake US media will still be able to control people's views and dramatize the facts based on their own interests? Stop living in a fool's paradise. You are so so wrong.
Where the hell do these monsters which label themselves Muslims, get such a huge amount of funding to stipend thousands of families, equipping themselves with latest war equipments? Why was Baitul-a-Masud not targetted by American drones despite the information provided by Pakistan army on several occasions? Why don't you include the point of view of people of Pakistan what devastating effects these drone attacks are causing to the society? Why don't you give a perspective on the fact that Pakistan has lost thousands of innocent lives only because of supporting barbaric US policies? Why not getting deep into the root cause as why it is happening and what is an opinion of a educated Pakistani , how does they take on this matter as they are the one's suffering the most? What about those people who joined Pakistan army to combat against these militants?
This documentary is just a weak effort to portray that "Islam is at war with Western civilization." If you are really sincere in your work, you must have consulted a high caliber scholar instead of a Qari of a Maddrassa which is definitely under a influence of US funded Taliban operating within Pakistan.
A simple question might lead to profound truth. At the end of the day the question that might leads you toward a true picture is " Who will be benefit when the story ends? " And you might get the answer. They are the same ones who plotted 9/11, as I believe most of the American citizens know who are really behind them .
"To all others, it's better to think rather to be played emotionally by the media."
Each totalitarian in every age claims to find some justification. There is none. Women or men, regardless of religion or race, nothing justifies oppression, brainwashing, dehumanization. Nothing. We are all born of women.
One of the best pieces of journalism I've ever seen.
This is perhaps the most enlightening 36 minutes of video I have ever seen. Incredible interviews. Thank you, and please keep up the good work.
Thank you Frontline for bringing this excellent documentary to the air. Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy is an amazingly courageous reporter who has pointed out the only sure and lasting way to forever defeat the Taliban - through education. I hope every world leader concerned about the spread of radical Islamic terrorism will see this program and recognize that bombing villages is not the answer -- building and securing schools is.
This is scary. I agree the US is too entangled world wide.However, if this crowd takes over all of Pakistan with their nuclear weapons we do have a HUGE problem. I can't believe the Pakistan government caved and allowed these people to take over the Swat Valley. Reminds me of the deals the Europeans made with the Nazi's before they invaded Poland. The Rhineland & Anschluss
This was a very insightful documentary on the roots and impacts of the Taliban in Pakistan. A sheer eye opener. This is the unfortunate consequence of the Pakistani government for creating and nurturing these monsters (Taliban) as Pakistan's main, aggressive foreign policy to control Afghanistan.
Now, these monsters are haunting Pakistan and her children.
Aside from that, these madrassas (religious, militant training grounds for children) must be closed by the Pakistani government and the educational system needs to be fully established to help these children.
But the corruption in Pakistani is so deep that it will be hard to pull through. Either there is a stop to this or it will move forward to civil war in Pakistan.
One of the better Frontline programs in recent memory. Not only chilling in its portrayal of the Taliban (which isn't really news news), but a graphic demonstration of how U.S. military policies in the area provide the Taliban with an effective recruitment device --through our (& the Pakistan military's) assaults that destroy the lives & dwellings of civilians.
St Louis, Missouri
It is terrible to see such small children being manipulated by the Taliban. Unfortunately, the Pakistani government brought this on themselves. This is the end result of Pakistan's covert policy of supporting the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Very brave and bold reporting by Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy.
To the people who say that we can't/shouldn't negotiate with the Taliban: a review of the past century's counter-insurgency efforts will show that it is extremely difficult to defeat an insurgency that has wide-spread popular support. If the goal is to prevent the Taliban conquering Pakistan, then we have to negotiate with some elements -- akin to what we did with the Sunni tribes that formerly backed Al Queda in Iraq. Just saying "kill them" will not work. We have a century of failures to prove this.
There IS a story here, but this reporter is God awful ... it was painful to watch this piece ... either it's very badly produced, or this producer had awful material to start with.
Boulder Creek, CA
This was truly hard to watch. But I'm glad that I did, as I now understand the situation so much more, now that I've heard it from the children themselves. My teenage son watched it with me, and was struck by the similar age of the boys interviewed. "That could be me Mom, if we lived there." Yes, yes it could. It is hard to imagine my son comparing his mother's worth to that of a plastic bag, but I suppose that would be a real possibility. Thank you for your bravery in reporting this story.
Port Charlotte, FL.
Turning a blind eye to this abhorant situation reminds me of the Serbia and the Balkans under Milosovich. The world turned a blind eye. Now the way to turn around this slide is to arm the natives with the weapons and tools to fight there own battle and help them rebuild when the dust settles. These are a proud independent people. Let them solve there own problems with our distant support.
As I watch this episode I was truly impressed with this brave daring
woman. It was heartbreaking to see these little boys being brainwashed into killers and looking at their faces all I saw was hatred; how sad that was. As for the girls not being able to get an education is a travesty. As I was watching
my reaction was anger, and how I wanted to do whatever I could to
help these poor people. I could go on and on but I feel frustrated as
I have no idea as how to change this problem. Is there anyway to get in touch with Sharmeen to give assistance or support.
New York City, New York
I am 29 years old and feel like my eyes have been opened to a reality which we cannot ignore, we must stand up and fight, for the sake of the millions of children who have no choice and no hope. I cried and could not sleep last night thinking of the children and the responsibility that has fallen on the shoulders of each person who watched this documentary.
Sharmeen is an amazing person. She is sounding a trumpet through this documentary and it has shaken me to the core. Anyone who watches this documentary will never be the same.
This was so moving. Thank you so much for having the courage and strength to do what others -- even our most prominent world leaders-- would not do. I truly appreciate your amazing insight into the lives of these individuals. As a young person living and growing up with this world issue, it is good to know that there are still people out there who wish to speak out and give all of us the facts we need to form our own opinions. This situation is deeply upsetting. I am sorry that this has to be a part of our world. Thank you for bringing the reality of these lives and issues to all of us.
I am thoroughly impressed with this work. She has done a marvelous job of bringing out everyone's perspective. Initially, I thought it was one of the Pak Military propaganda type. But really she has given everyone's perspective. For me there are three take home messages:
1. Taliban find ground in all the rogue elements of the society. So they are not only in Swat, but in Karachi and Punjab as well.
2. The foot soldiers are unwilling to fight this and have given up of sorts. The foot soldier clearly says that this is because of U.S. involvement. This is really a superb comment.
3. The officers are living in their paradise. They have only lies for the public and nothing.
If these three points are right, then what is the solution? More bombs or more welfare of the people? More war or more rehabilitation in the areas?
Seriously, this video sends chills down my spine... specially when I see how deep rooted the problem is and the Taliban is just the tip of that ugly iceberg.
Get the good people some place and our army can fly you somewhere that they will be safe. I feel sorry for the good but not the bad. i would love to have a small young girl to live wih me and my husband. i had 2 boys, they are gone now but i always wanted a girl. i pray for all of you good people.
My grandson is in Iraq. He is frustrated. He says, "How do you fight an enemy who wants to die?' There seems to be no hope for the countries like Pakistan. A miracle, perhaps. And that is when Jesus reveals Himself to them.
The facts have very well been presented, however somehow the detailed context is missing. After criticising the extremist Talibans, shouldn't we also condemn U.S.'s colonialization policies in the area? I agree with most that Pakistanis in general do not like the Taliban and their idea of Sharia law. However, the popularity they are gaining is a direct result of the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan.
Illegal occupation of a country gives its inhabitants the right to fight back for independence, and in this case the fight is sadly being led by the ruthless Taliban extremists.
it says "cant show use to restrictions in your area"...what does this mean? I want to watch this video please!
For some strange reason, i can't seem to view this documentary because when i click on watch video, it says it's not available in your region. The documentary is about Pakistan but the Pakistani people like myself are unable to view it. Strange.
Eastpointe, MI, MI
PBS-FRONTLINE WORLD,Great work as usual.
I think it is a shame that children are brainwashed at an early age. Relentless generations of Ignorant Ideology. Taliban Hypocrites to the Islamic Religion! You will not become a Martyr if you kill! You can not kil in the name of God. You cannot kill in the name of Religion! You oppress women because you are week and afraid of not being in charge. Suicide bombing is wrong, and we must rid the world of the Devil's turds.
Islam is at war with Western civilization -- with all civilization. Appeasement, negotiation, rational discussion, are all proofs of weakness to its adherents, and effectively a form of surrender. Europe has been infiltrated, and if we are not vigilant, the U.S. is next. If Iran's nuclear facilities are not bombed soon, and if all necessary military steps are not taken to support what passes for civilian government in Pakistan to guard its nuclear weapons, another world war is imminent.
This is an example of excellent, thorough reporting. It would be difficult enough for a man to gain the kind of access that journalist Obaid-Chinoy obtained; that she is a woman makes her reportage -- in zones that are inhospitable to women -- even more extraordinary.
The story is also beautifully filmed, giving us a sense of places where most would never dare to tread -- it made 36 minutes of informative reporting feel more like 10 or 12 minutes.
Journalists reporting in foreign places should endeavor to report as honestly and craftily as Obaid-Chinoy and her team. With this report they have illuminated one of the great dilemmas of our time, and set the bar at a level that we all can aspire to.
Persons interested in this interview should watch the DVD entitled The Power of Nightmares produced by people from the BBC. Then they should look up Sayed Kotb who is considered by some as the father of modern Jihad. The 9/11 hijackers are reported to be followers of his philosophy as are Bin Laden and al-Zawahiri, who were students of Sayid's brother who taught in Saudi Arabia.
These people hate the United States, and the leaders use religion and terror to promote their hatred. War will not win the battle, probably only make it worse. As mentioned earlier, we have to find a better way and debunk the religion myths.
This is a powerful documentary. Talibans' mind set do not represent most of the Pakistanis, so I am very confident that Talibans will never be able to enforce their understanding on us. Recently, we as Pakistanis stood up for democracy and justice -- and in spite of all the odds (internal and external) we have achieved our goals, to uphold democracy and a free judiciary.
Now some criticism: I felt very uncomfortable with the title "Children of the Taliban" (it could have been Taliban's next generation or something like that). Because the current title makes me hate their children too, as I start to view them as my enemies. I believe that this is not the intent of the producer.
Secondly, only Talibans' perverted understanding of the religion is covered; there is no attempt to explain what most of the people (and religious scholars) think about their wrong ideology.
This documentary also reminds me of a few kids that I met in a high school in Iowa, USA. They were members of the South Liberation Army (SLA) Sudan and on some governmental program and attending the classes in the morning and attending the military training in the afternoon. After completing their high school they were supposed to join the SLA. I was appalled that this is happening with my tax money!
Excellent, as always. Frontline remains the last bastion of investigative journalism in this country.
One further connection needed to have been made, however, to convince isolationists like John Olson (above) of St. Cloud, MN, of the importance of this region.
Pakistan is nuclear armed, led by a president considered an ally to the U.S., but whose leadership is threatened from within, and borders a nuclear-armed India with which it shares a history of hostility.
Still think the U.S. shouldn't be involved? Should we just let Pakistan and all its nukes fall into the hands of hardline islamic fundamentalists? What could possibly go wrong, right?
It would seem that we can not defeat an adversary as fanatical as the Taliban. They stoup to such levels that we will not. This, in my opinion, is the new warfare tactic, just as gorilla warfare was in the revolutionary war that birthed this country. We have to fight differently. We have to rethink our tactics. We have to be willing, perhaps, to go to outlandish and or similar lengths to defeat these adversaries. Infiltrate their military, society, culture, lands etc. We may progress by using our own suicide bombers, as crazy as that sounds. I feel that we may need to start thinking more like them to defeat them...
Colorado Springs, CO
Very good documentary that provides insight into the view (mentality) of those involved with the Taliban. Hopefully this will open the eyes of those who do not understand the beliefs of those in the Taliban - the militant Muslims - who fight from a perspective of it being an honor to die. When you face a group of people that have no fear of death and who view death as an honor, then you are facing a group of reckless abandon who will stop at nothing to destroy all that is around them. Maybe people will realize that "negotiations" and "peace treaties" will NEVER work when working with persons that do not value life. We cannot continue to try and pacify this group or any like it, and we need to wake up to this truth. With the Taliban, there is no "fighting fair", especially if you are considered an infidel.
Appalling and very sad, a hopeless situation.
Frightening. If only safe havens could be set up for those who don't wish to participate. People should also be educated that they have the power to leave the area altogether if they wish. By any means necessary. N,S,E or West. Just leave.
Ms. Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy is a very courageous and thoughtful reporter. Thank you for giving viewers around the world a glimpse into the complex dynamics of the ongoing conflicts within Pakistan. I thought the portrayal of the young best friends in the refugee camp who were willing to kill each other in the name of their respective loyalties was particularly powerful and really demonstrated the degree to which the Taliban's influence can tear people apart.
I thought this film was both disturbing and excellent. Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy did a fantastic job showcasing the realities on the ground and this new generation of children who are susceptible of being inducted into the Taliban. The propaganda videos geared toward children was the most disconcerting, as was the man the filmmaker interviewed who said he recruits 5-7 year old children. It scares me that this is what is gaining in influence in my country, and I worry we are not doing enough to stop it.
New York, New York
The program, "Children of the Taliban," is extraordinarily powerful and deeply upsetting. Can you please tell me how it would be possible to make a contribution to help Qainat, the little girl with the injured mother who lost most of her family and who appears at the beginning of the program?
Pakistan approves sharia law in Swat valley.
OUTRAGE!! What sort of men negotiate with Taliban terrorists? Ones that seek to legitimize Taliban power by giving them control of valuable land and resources...provided they get to share the profits made from swat emerald mining. Human rights and gender apartheid take a back seat to greed, once again. These Taliban extremists ought to be eliminated, period.
As an American Muslim, I have been disgusted by these hard core, hard headed hypocrites to the religion, who do not follow Islamic ethics in fighting or war. They flip parts of the religion behind their back as if it doesn't exist. For example, Islam elevates women not oppresses them but oppressed woman bring up ignorant men who can easily be brain washed. It's just another devil hiding behind religion, trying to make themselves Gods.
Why is female education so threatening? Men have strength and power and that's why they target young men first and kill the wiser old men. They are cowards and no more then ego maniac gang members and thugs, who use an Islamic face, with no true ethics or consciousness of God. God is not a terrorist to his creatures nor does he wants servants by force.
These people prey on the naive and weak; they also teach but not translate in their language or they would know how they go away from the religion. I don't remember the prophet spreading Islam this way, not against woman or innocent civilians.
I wish someone had the convictions to stand up to these hard headed warlord wannabes and send them back to God, so they can dispute with God their religion and his.
With the recent capitulation by the Pakistani govt, it seems the inevitable will happen and more of the country will heads toward Talibanization.
It was depressing to see how easily these simple kids are manipulated into joining, and brainwashed into killing themselves and others.
I think U.S. interests in that area are very shortsighted, and most Americans have no idea how delicate the balance of power is in that area.
Thanks to Sharmeen for some very brave reporting.
st cloud, mn
I simply don't care about this area of the world. The U.S. has too many foreign entanglements....it is draining us dry. American blood and treasure should be spent to protect the Homeland NOT THE WORLD. WE ARE BROKE. I'm tired of world cop, it will not work, and the money, God, the money wasted. People of the world need to grow a set of balls and fight for their own freedom. Where is the EU the AU the UN????
I follow the Baha'i Faith, a religion that sprang from Persia in the 1800s. The Baha'i's are still be persecuted soundly because of their belief in the unity and dignity of mankind. The Baha'i's wish for peace and a world government, devoid of territorial boundaries. As a Baha'i, I pray for justice and world peace; an end to this sort of discord.
New York, NY
During Obaid-Chinoy's interview with the young girl, Quainat, she states that family's money is running out and they'll soon have to return to the village controlled by the Taliban. Did Obaid-Chinoy give them any financial aid? Can any aid be gotten to the girl and her family to help them live elsewhere?
Can't Frontline supply reporter's with funds to aid some of the people they interview? I think reporters should take some responsibility for the people they interview.
If Frontline can set up a fund to help Quaint and some of the other girls I, and I think other viewers would gladly contribute.
FRONTLINE/World's editors respond:
You can watch an interview with Sharmeen here.
She talks about staying in touch with many of the people in the film, including the young girls.
Notre Dmae, IN
I am still in the process of watching this episode, but I am certain that it is the best piece of journalism that I've ever seen. Thank you for this insightful, moving, and stimulating work.