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Week of 1.8.10

Targeting the Taliban

Fighting the Afghanistan War...in Pakistan. A dangerous, inside look at the conflict's true front line.

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President Obama is sending as many as 30,000 more troops to combat Taliban and al Qaeda forces in Afghanistan this year, but are we missing the true target?

The Weekly Q
This week, NOW reports directly from Pakistan's dangerous and pivotal border with Afghanistan, where Pentagon war planners acknowledge many of the enemy fighters and their leaders are based. The U.S. has been relying on Pakistan to act against Taliban militants there, but the Pakistani army's commitment is in question.

NOW takes you to the true front lines for an eye-opening, inside look you haven't seen before, and won't soon forget.

Related Links

BBC News: Q&A: Pakistan's Waziristan challenge

The Economist: Waziristan - The last frontier

The New York Times: At War: Notes from the Front Lines


Viewer Comments

Commenter: Asad ullah khan niazi
i am in favor to this operation because my brother is also participating in this operation and we never ever leave anyone to do this kind of bad things in our country we will fight against even if they were americans or hindu whosoever they are


Commenter: World Citizen
I can't begin to tell you how many people I have ran into on the street who have seen your report on PBS- what an impressive and accurate reporting piece done by the journalist- I commend your bravery, freedom of speech and how you bring it all together in 30 minutes of reporting. You turned the tide against the Taliban in out minds- keep it up- Rohit and keep it up- PBS!


Commenter: Sher Suleman
Viva! Pakistan Army. You do us proud whenever the nation has called upon you in her hour of need and misfortunes.
It's a reasonably good projection of operational activities in the challenging counter-insurgency against "Dehshat gards" in South Wazirastan.

We only hope that sooner the offensive will be converted into the battle for winning the hearts and minds of those on the other side of the fence; not forgetting that they too, are our sons how-so-ever angry, abandoned or subverted!!!
Pak Army, may your Colors always flutter in Glory in the service of your People and Pakistan. Keep it up and well done.


Commenter: saal
Dear Readers,
it was really great to read different views about this report.More or enough, there are two views i.e. USA and and Pak. it would be much appreciated that atleast one must understand..What Pakistan Army is doing there..there are still few things which are missing in this report? Pakistan ARmy is sacrifying their blood and sweat to save the world...it includes USA also and evry one.Why we always forget that world is for every one, no colour, no race...What pakitsn army or Pakitsn is doing, we must acknowledge.why we blame each other...!!!!!the real matter is to understand that that these terrorists are worst than animals, becaz they are not humans...have you ever seen that they slaughter innocent. Pakistan Army is determined to kill these terrorists and will never let them desstroy this world.This is a promise to the world.(A soldier fighting in this report for the sake of the world).
Pak Army is not fighting for any thing else but to save the world.


Commenter: Mujahid Achakzai
Pakistan is doing more than its fair share of fighting the Taliban. What America should take notice of, are indian activities in Afghanistan. The indians are trying to run a proxy war using Afghanistan as the launching pad into Pakistan.

If America really wants to succeed in Afghanistan, then it had better behave like a true ally with Pakistan. Drone attacks are a direct violation of a country's sovereignty.

I remember when 9/11 happened, America gave us (Pakistan) an ultimatum, "Either you're with us or against". This time Pakistan telling America, "Either you're with us in this war, or you're against!"

America should remember one thing, we're not Iraq, nor are we Afghanistan and if it wants to continue to be our ally, then it should really think hard about kicking out the indians from Afghanistan.


Commenter: Ahsan Iqbal
Vedio's fine.. I noticed the class of weaponary used by (so-called) Taliban is much inferior and traditional .303s, old russian machine guns and RPG-7s. That's evidence of lack of mordern equipments. but.. the most amuzed thing was in end.. Hakeemullah Masud in Humvee.. can any one explain?


Commenter: Ali Khan
My fathers in Pak Army.And I m a pushtoon and proud to be one..........Cause not all men are son of rocks............I have been to FATA (Khyber Agency).Its people are as gud as they can be...........they r against Terrorists and allowed to enter them there land.............this is de land which was not even captured by the Britishers...................I want to say is dat the founder of terrorists are Americans themselves as u have heard it in this Documentary....If America is so gr8 then why is it only luking for its own national interest.............??? It should have worked 4 the welfare of Humanity.............Is it trying to solve the conflict between the Norht and South Koreans??????No it has taken side with South korea............Similarly in Israel and Palestine .........It has taken side with Israelians...........IT is just luking 4 its national Benifits.........I luv America myself............But Pakistan much more.................I again say ..I have no personal hatred against the people of America.................but against its Government I do ...........ANd it will increase if they dnt stop the drone attacks.................................


Commenter: AK
Americans and thier dream to rule the world & resources. People killed directly/indirectly(mostly innocent) by US out number then any one killed by Talibans/or even dictators like Sadam. CIA did actually directly supported Hikmatyaar equally as Northren Aliance so Soviets can be beaten. Being son of Pak army officer assisting Americans I know for fact that CIA used to bring money bags in C130s and they use to go for JIHAD EFFORT. Yes back in 80s it was Jihadis ur best freind and after sucking thier blood were left high and dry. No wonder world is in such a mess becasuse of US policies.


Commenter: khalid
@Gabriel Rosenfeld
pakistan wants to built boundry wall wired boarder with afghanistan which usa,nato and afghanistan dosnt let thm do.so who to blame now?
if americans, nato are serious they shud let pakistan built wired boarder with snipers on check points and tht will be the death of talibans frm pakistan.and will be lot more easy for usa to clean up.


Commenter: SAAD, Pakistan
the USA should first of all recognize the efforts of Pakistan army and the people of Pakistan in general.they should let pakistan army to pursue their own enemies first. Pakistan is in a very grave security situation. great sense of insecurity has prevailed in the minds of people of my country. imagine this situation in USA. USA wouldn't even have given a thought of the idea of chasing somebody else's enemy before killing their own direct enemy first.


Commenter: prado
looks like the pakis are the only ones fighting the talib goons


Commenter: Saad Siddiqui
@Mr. Bubble

Color doesnt matter for us Muslims, there is no restriction of wearing any specific color, no matter what the situation is ,and cmon its just a sweater a simple one, stop bring a narrow minded, talk about things which matters to us Muslims.Dont criticise him just cuz hez a hindu.


Commenter: Rod Palmer
A color that stands out is worn because if you are captured by the other side you want to distinguish yourself from the soldiers you are with. You stand out as a journalist in a different color. Even a sniper will spare a person in a color like that as they would know he is not a soldier.


Commenter: zohaib
I guess what US did to collapse soviet union in afghanistan pakistan is paying the price coz it helped USA.Thats absolutely true all those madrassas which were once funded by US and were the recruiting center for the muslims around the world to go to Afghanistan and fight against Soviet union but once US got its objective in afghanistan it left those people which he brainwashed to fight against soviets.Usually media blames pakistan alone for being part of making talban and just forgets what part US had in that.but let me tell one thing the talban in afghanistan and talban in pakistan are completely differnt, Tehreeke talban pakistan which even Mulla Umar disowns is completely different group.who are they and from where they are getting their fundings from?A big question mark for the people who have a bit knowledge about the issue.Alot of pakistanis sees Tehreeke Talban from completely differnt aspect from what west do.I guess it is foreign funded organization which is just used to destablize pakistan and to use it to show to the world that atomic assets of pakistan are going into talban's hand a nice excuse to put pressure on pakistan to give away its nuclear assets i am pretty sure if pakistan give away its nuclear assets the second day u will not see any single suiscide bombing in pakistan but its never gona happen.on the other hand what americans are doing is they cant take care of their side and they keep accusing pakistan for everything.when in 2006 Pakistan govt. was thinking to make a boundary or wall on the pakistan afghanistan border it was USA itself and afghanistan which opposed it the most.what are interests of US and afghanistan in open border?THe third thing is actiiive role of Raw(indian intelligence agency) in afghanistan which doesnt have anything to do against talban or alqaeda which is just focusing on Pakistan making unrest in BAlaochistan and the Frontier. one thing that was also questionable was many talban who were killed in sawat were not even muslims.i never knew any non muslim talban before those died in the war and they were not even circumsized and i read the whole thing on it.Us is doing worse part in Pakistan alot of people in pakistan think pakistani talban are indian and US funded there is big unrest among people.US claims osamabin ladin and Mulla umar are in quetta(capital of balauchistan province) just like they claimed iraq had weapons of mass destruction.where are those weapons nobody knows but what we all know they destroyed iraq just on their false intelligence report and if they sended troops or did any kind of drone attack on quetta it will be open war on pakistan.Another unrest in Pakistan because of extra involvement of americans inside pakistan and contractors like black water and XS which are harrasing the common people and think they are above the law,the biggest conslate in the world is under construction in islamabad in which almost 2000 marines can stay.why humvees are heading towards lahore and islamabad in place of afghanistan.people in pakistan are aware of what is going on they dont trust governement coz they know its puppet.What american government is doing in pakistan is completely wrong and that is the biggest reason for being unpopular in pakistan.Alot of americans which i meet ask the same question we help u guys and u still oppose us why is that?the reasons are above which i mentioned.Stop supporting an unpopular government.Stop your extra activities inside Pakistan.Stop accusing pakistan for everything.Be sincere in your intentions and stop using pakistan as a tool.Stop covering raw for its terrorist activties inside pakistan from afghanistan.Make barriers and boundary on afghanistan and pakistan border so nobody can accuse any one for anything.


Commenter: pakistan
I am from pakistan
in my opinion talibans are animals. and they should be eliminated from this world. and pakistan army is doing well against them. Pakistan has suffered alot in the last 5-8 years. sucidal attacks occur in Pakistan not in USA. and still USA says we are doing nothing. My question is what USA has done in 10 years along with NATO,with huge resources,with the only super army in the world?
dont blame anyone of your own failure come to the real problem.If half of the budget that USA is using in fighting terroists is used for education and health in these areas, it would make real difference.
Now the real problem with tribal area is that these areas are rich with natural resources and we use them but a single peny is not invested for the developement of this area and its people.
so now why we blame these people(real loacal tribals not talibans). when there is no education, no electricity,no infrastructure,no hospitals etc.
Talibans are taking advantage of this.


Commenter: Jana
Dear Gabriel Rosenfeld

For your information the literacy rate in Gilgit Baltistan is highest in Pakistan. So please do not give misguided views about my area when you do not know anything.


Commenter: Sameer
@John Bowen

Rohit Gandhi, who I've worked with in the past, is not Pakistani. He is actually an Indian reporter who has worked for CBC in Canada and for CNN. The access he has managed to get is more impressive considering the difficult relations between the two countries. Great report Rohit.


Commenter: David Coe
The United States of America is doing the entire world a favor by keeping the heat on the terrorists. It is a job with no end. I am proud that Pakistan and Afghanistan are helping. However, I think we need to impress on the world it is a job to be carried out by all nations from the inside of their nation and outside in support of those willing to take the fight wherever it needs to go.


Commenter: Gabriel Rosenfeld
I am reading a book about a man named Greg Mortenson who set up a bunch of schools in Baltistan. It seems to me that this area and areas like it are pretty much cut off from the rest of the world. Instead of trying to go there and root out the bad guys, why not keep this area tightly monitored and cut off from weapons? The Taleban must get there weapons from somewhere. Can't we cut off their economic life blood? That's what America is great at.


Commenter: Mr. Bubble
Can someone please explain why on earth Rohit Gandhi would wear a bright red sweater on a story like this?


Commenter: Rudy Haugeneder, Victoria, BC, Canada
Fair trade, not war, drones, or propaganda, will win favor in that part of the world, as it does and historically has, everywhere else.
True history is a teacher that civilization flourishes when nations and people are treated as equals, even if it takes a bit of haggling to make the sale.
Unfortunately, most of the history we learn, including the bible, glorifies the generals and battles, rather than civilization's actual accomplishments.


Commenter: Andrew
Every country has the responsibility of protecting its own people from dangers inside their own borders. Pakistan is not a financially booming country, but they are doing their best to utilize their own resources against the Taliban. America has the resources and the infrastructure to attack dangers outside of its own borders, so we do that for the good of the world. We cannot expect any other country to attack a source that is not directly effecting them especially if they dont have the extra resources for it. America should not come into Pakistan but should allow Pakistan to protect its people by its own means.
For example, How would America like it if Canada thought we were not taking care of the Mexican immigrant problem and decided to send troops into America?


Commenter: JACK R
IT IS IMPERATIVE THAT WE TAKE OUT THE LEADERS OF AL QAEDA INCLUDING OSAMA BIN LADEN NO MATTER WHAT COUNTRY THEY ARE IN AT THE MOMENT. AS FAR AT TROOPS IN AFGANASTAN - "A LITTLE TO MUCH TOO LATE" IS PROBABLY THE BEST PHRASE.

BEFORE WW II WE STILL HAD BI PLANES IN THE ARMY AIR CORPS. EIGHT YEARS LATER WE HAD JETS IN THE AIR. MY POINT IS THAT TECHNOLOGY DURING WAR TIME IS ASTOUNDING.

WE HAVE THE TECHNOLOGY NOW BUT IT APPEARS THAT WE JUST CANNOT CONNECT THE DOTS. HOW ABOUT PULLING OUT OF AFGANISTAN AND TRAIN OUR TROOPS FOR THE THINGS WE HAVE LEARNED IN IRAQ AND AFGANASTAN THEN PREPARING OURSELVES AGAINST TERRERIST ATTACKS.

BUILD UP OUR SPECIAL FORCES AND MISSILE DEFENSE. IF THIS COUNTRY IS ATTACKED ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD, OUR REACTION SHOULD BE DECISIVE AND SWIFT. OMAR KHADAFI IS A PERFECT EXAMPLE. ENOUGH SAID.


Commenter: Concerned....
Since United States started all this mess by spreading Islamic extremism in order to serve their agenda of dismantling the Soviet Union.... Now the entire world is paying the price... If only the US would back off... stop drooling over the mineral rich soil of Pakistan and Afghanistan...Stop funding the Israeli aggression against the Palestinians and the Muslims...this world would become a peaceful place....
Tax payer money would be channeled in the right direction...security challenges would quietly diminish. Imagine the amount of money the taxpayers are paying in order to keep this country safe...especially the aviation hubs... This is the game being played by the greedy US politicians... Please OPEN YOUR EYES...AND SEE WHAT IS HAPPENING....


Commenter: David C. Powell
The Taliban has never been a threat to this country. What the hell are we doing there besides alienating the people and killing the innocents. We kill one alleged Al Qaeda and 13 civilians and it creates more volunteers for suicide missions. How smart is that? Duh! The British failed and the Russians failed. GET OUT! We cannot police the world! But of course, it's good business for our weapons industry and that is really why we are there. The more people killed or maimed the better it is for BUSINESS! Evil bastards! And they are probably Christians, too! We are a failing country. Morally and financially. We were once a good idea but we have failed and are doomed.


Commenter: Tim Rochte
I'm no expert in camouflage, but why is the reporter wearing a bright red jacket on the frontline?


Commenter: Ali
Hi,

I am from Pakistan, there wasn't a single suicide bombing in our 55 year old history, until we started fighting for the Americans (which I fully support, Now after 2000 innocent Pakistani civilians and around 1500 soldiers dying in this war, Americans still think we are not doing enough, All I can say is America is more than welcome to replace the 80,000 Pakistani soldiers on the Afghan border, after all every border has 2 sides.

And If it is so easy to win against Taleban, why hasn't America and NATO's combined forces achecived that in Afghanistan. It is pure and simple shifting the blame for your failures.


Commenter: Gloria G Karp
This is one of the most intelligent programs on Public
Television and I am terribly unhappy about the prospect of it being dropped in the spring. Please retain.

As for Af/Pak, it is not easy. If we pull out, the Taliban will take over fully; yet, the locals want us out and we are seen as occupiers. Our war there does not help to fight AlQuaeda, witness Yemen and Somalia. We must develop a more sophisticated intelligence system...and yes, pre-emptive strikes against known villains.


Commenter: Ryan Parker
We fail to realize how deep the culture and traditions run in the tribes of these regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan. I think that the recognition and understanding of these traditions is crucial to winning the support of the locals. The support of the locals is a much needed asset in this fight.


Commenter: Julie Walker
I find it lucidcrous that my country, the USA and their supporters should dicate rules to this region requiring residents there to kill fellow countrymen. What? our forefathers didn't get enough bloodletting from descimating the indigenous on this continent? They had to move their carnage to another region?
The USA doesn't belong there.
I believe we should back away from the region--militarily--and move in with teachers, nurses/doctors, agraians, water conservationists, etc. and artists of all stripes. And I'm not thinking "Onward Christain Soldiers" here. None dedicating their time in a foreign culture should be so rude as to even imply that their culture/religion is superior.
These wars shouldn't have happened. The wars shouldn't continue.
The ones who "hate our freedom, our way of life" and wish to attack us won't have an enemy if there isn't one.
Let's bow out gracefully, but definitively.


Commenter: Alan
Good report, any group that blows up schools and kills
little girls because the girls want to go to school is
beyond redemption and should receive the ultimate
degree of retribution.


Commenter: Jim Brillon
THANK YOU for the incredible and important reporting from the front lines of the Pakistan fighting against the Taliban. We need to know what is going on from the viewpoint of the Pakistan resistance and this is the best I have seen yet. Not even the BBC has not brought us such concise and comprehensive understanding of the fighting. I wish NOW could be a part of every evening news broadcast in the US. Wonderful use of resources and terrific insight! More!


Commenter: Robert C Allen ,LTC USA (Ret)
As a retired US Army infantry officer(two tours in Vietnam with the 173d Abn Bde) I was pleased to see "Targeting the Taliban". It is an excellent report. As reluctant as the Pakistani Army has been to engadge the Taliban directly in the past, these actions in the fall of 2009 show much promise. The Pakistani reporter and film crew need to be commended.The shift in Pakistani public opinion toward the Taliban and their suicide bombings is starting to pay off. We can only hope that it will continue.


Commenter: Gary E. Andrews
Paul Sperry, in "Crude Politics," tells how the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, and the Asian Development Bank, and the Chamber of Commerce with Senator Sam Brownback's help, all invested in the bridges that enabled the Russians to roll heavy equipment into Afghanistan. He tells how Unocal Oil sent its representative in the 1980's, as I recall, into Afghanistan to try to get the Taliban to modify their behavior so they could be 'recognized' as a legitimate government, enabling more IMF and WB and ADB funds to flow in to build a pipeline to transit the country, delivering oil from Uzbekistan, as I recall, out to global markets. The CIA and PRI (Pakistani intelligence) had trained and armed the Taliban, and the superior arms enabled them to take over from the freedom fighters who had fought the Russians. It's interesting that US and Russian foreign policy decided to have a war in a third country, catching the Afghan people in a classic Nazi pinscher movement, chewing up untold numbers, driving half the 14 million population to become refugees. So, now that Unocal's representative, who joined the Taliban government, and is now the President, Hamid Karzai, and his government is recognized, how is the pipeline coming?

The price of a kilo of heroin was $900 when the US invaded. It dropped to $90, a buyer's market, and plenty of no-questions-asked transportation in and out, enabled the Afghan drug lords to take over supply of some 90% of global heroin traffic. So that pipeline is flowing at near peak capacity.


Commenter: charles hodges
As in Viet Nam we little understood the region but we muddled forward with our american perspective. We didn't win there and we won't here until we see their problem as ours.


Commenter: Vembar K Ranganathan
"Targeting the Taliban" is a great piece of journalism. May I compliment reporter Rohit Gandhi and Branchachhio for bringing this telling story to us. I was delighted to hear Pakistan's army officials. They are dealing with an area which was never under Pakistan's control. I fervantly hope the Pak army establishes its control.


Commenter: John Bowen
Your valuable episode by the Pakistani reporter was on the mark. The entire response of the Bush Administration and lately the Obama Administration to 911 has been to use it as an excuse to take over the oil rich areas of the Middle East for the profit of not only Big Oil, but for the war profiteers. This has become painfully apparent in the US response to the entire episode. The people who profit, the Great American Oligarchs have managed to create in our minds the Everlasting War to impoverish us and make themselves even more filthy rich. They will use every means to actively encourage terrorists to use them as an excuse for more wallowing in our tax dollars.

If you want to win the war against "terrorism" then take a page out of Greg Mortinson's book, "Three Cups of Tea", a fantastic effort with little money that has done more for democracy than all of the efforts of the military security industrial complex that sees only profit in blood. Put the word traitor in the right place.


Commenter: J. F. Dargon
Pakistan's military spokesman blamed the US for the distribution of Korans and for the violence preached in the madrassas, but in reality, it was the Pakistani ISI and the Saudis that funneled all CIA funding into those groups that were pro-Pakistani Wahabbis fundamentalists such as Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. When this henchman of the ISI failed in his attempt to drive the Tajik warlord, Massoud, from Kabul, they promoted the home grown Afghan phenomenon called the Taliban to power. The ISI wants to consolidate Afghan land into Pakistan, the Pashtuns want to rip apart Afghanistan and parts of Pakistan to form Pashtunistan, and the Americans want a stable Afghanistan to build transcontinental gas transmission pipelines to Karachi's seaport.


Commenter: Paul Anderson
I heard the Pakistani defense analyst saying that the Afghan/Pakistani terror problem was created solely by the US, out of our creating a religious war against the Soviets. There is some truth in that. But let's also remember that we have fueled the *global* Islamic terror movements through our support of Zionism and the abuse of the Palestinian people.

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