Seeing your program after Musharraf's absurd and historically unprecedented US book tour (with a UN speech for a launch!) leaves me disturbed and concerned.
Musharraf's leadership is on a precipice despite his repeated claims to the contrary on talk shows across the country. The fact that A.Q. Khan sits under cozy house arrest, rather than in a prison where he belongs, is testament to just how weak Musharraf's administration is.
Meanwhile American military strategists, only now beginning to shake the old nation/state/symmetrical warfare model, clearly don't know how to solve both Iraq's and Afghanistan's insurgent conundrum. In WWII, when the Japanese had their backs against the wall, they too resorted to suicide bombers (I like the name 'kamikaze' better than the mind numbing 'terrorist'). Not even the leveling of Tokyo by fire bombing was enough to stop them. Unfortunately, we all know how that one ended. Will desperate leaders, either here or there, push for a repeat performance? And in an age of nuclear proliferation, can anyone afford to release that hound?
Colorado Springs, CO
Excuse Me! but are in now going to demonize Pakistan just because we can't find anyone in Iraq (btw US govt and people believed that all the terrorists were hiding there), Afganistan (oh sorry the terrorists were hiding there), Somalia (the terrorists were hiding there as well), etc....
Shame on us for not being able to show one accomplishment in the last 5 years other than what Pakistan has been able to do for us....i.e. catch sheikh, etc...
We are indeed full of hypocrites' that at the time of need show full support to Pakistan and now that we have failed in Iraq, Afghanistan....as a result of which more terrorists exist in the world, we should go mess up Pakistan... so we can create even more...
Let me congratule you on one of the finest piece of journalism I have seen. This movie should open eyes to the biggest danger the world faces in the form of Islamic Terrorism (call it Taliban, AlQaeda) that originates from Pakistani tribal areas, but is controlled by Generals sitting in Islamabad and Rawalpindi. Granted that mujahideens were created by West/Pak to fight Russian troops in 70s-80s. Pakistan was paid billions of dollars for their services. The Soviets left, but Pakistani Generals have figured out a perfect formula to continue using Jihadists/terrorists for their own benefit as well as to keep the Billions of dollars coming, while using it to wreak havoc in India in the name of Kashmir.
Return of the Taleban certainly presented a troubling picture. But it would no doubt be even more troubling for anyone watching the show with no other prior particular knowledge of the area.
It seemed pretty clear that the general tone ... was confrontational and negative in nature. There was little to no mention of the fact that the Pakistan Army has inflicted and suffered hundreds of casualties fighting extremist forces in those border areas. The ISI loomed over everything like an agency of SPECTRE like proportions. There was no addressing of why, if NATO forces are aware of the transit points for people entering Afghanistan, they cannot interdict them on the other side.
The negative comments were taken at face value by Mr Smith, but comments from Pakistani officials were immediately and clearly faced with extreme skepticism. Surely statements made by ANP politicians ,who are political opponents who would like nothing better than for Musharraf to lose favour with the West, should warrant similar skepticism, for exactly the same reason (ie, being basically self-serving).
Indeed, just how effective is the Afghan Intelligence force likely to be? - and its hard to believe that they would hold on to the precise location of high ranking Taleban officials for months without mentioning it to US forces - who are not necessarily shy of firing Hellfires should they have sufficient solid grounds!
What was most interesting was that the detailed comments on the Frontline website from most of the experts interviewed were not as roundedly critical as those on the show, revealing how careful editing will certainly present the picture that one wants to present. And, amusingly, the same day that the show was broadcast, Senator Bill Frist (a man whom I have really never found grounds to agree with) declared that a political accomodation with the Taleban is likely the only way to achieve progress in afghanistan - a concept that the show was so thoroughly against! And if that is what the US feels, is it likely that the Afghan government will be far behind..?
last night I watched "Return of the Taliban" with great interest and dismay. I feel that it will arouse much hatred toward Pakistan without having depicted a true image of the country.
The Tribal Areas are very sensitive. Without knowing the history and the complex culture of the area, how can we ever hope to know how to resolve the problems? I have lived in Pakistan and have met many wonderful people all over the country. I have been treated very well everywhere I went. I wish this documentary had done more to help us think about what can be done to bring peace, rather than to ignite hatred.
After watching "Return of the Taliban," I am even more sure that America's leaders seek to be the imperialist rulers of the world. Perhaps the U.S should look closely at it foreign policies and begin to realize that it should stop trying to rule the world.
The U.S has enough domestic problems, like unemployment, rising health care cost, poverty, corporate greed, and racial and religious bigotry. The U.S. should deal with its own domestic problems and let foreign governments deal with their problems themselves.
Neptune, New Jersey
Thanks for the excellent report. This is a war where our enemy want's to kill us. Their goal is the spread of radical Islam globally and kill anyone that does not believe as they do. Our enemy only respects force. We can't reason with them, we can't ask if we can just get along with them. Radical Islam activists are just bullies. You can't back down from bullies because they will keep coming. We have to kill them because if we don't, they won't hesitate to kill our children and family.
I say dump our arsenal of weapons on the Taliban in Pakistan and let God sort it out. It worked on Japan in WWII. I will work on the Taliban in Pakistan too.
Frontline is a televised version of the kind of indepth, investigative, fact-finding coverage we are sorely missing in today's media. Truly break-through. Thank you PBS, Park Foundation, other Sponsors, and yes, to us Contributors to our local PBS stations. May we always Demand as democratic, tax-paying, voting citizens, that our public funding goes to such quality broadcasting and never allow it to be marshalled by those who fear an informed public and seek to skew the facts.
I was very disappointed after this particular presentation. Frontline's approach was kind of, one sided from the beginning. Your goal was to ruthlessly uncover the links of Pakistan to the Taleban, even at the cost of the undercover Photographer's life, and without any deeper understanding of the Tribal Areas' history, traditions, cultures, the topography, and other variables of the region and Pakistan's precarious position in this situation.
It seemed that Frontline was an adversary and was out to uncover and second guess Pakistan government's gameplan and strategy in order to calm down a region which has been beset with military strikes since 2002, in our botched "War on Terror". Do you realize that due to the socio-economic, political and cultural contexts of this policy, Pakistan can erupt in civil unrest and chaos, leading to the rise of yet another, non-state armed resistance in the region?
Frontline as usual has set the standard for investigative journalism. The complexity of the hopeless situation not only in Pakistan but throughout the mideast region was masterfully depicted in this program.
Americans who devote the time and effort to stay informed realize the critical nature of our policy decisions in this region and the implications for future generations.
We support your efforts and encourage more of the same.
First of all, thanks to FRONTLINE for showing the true reality of the border towns and the decisions that are made with regard to them by the Pakistani government. I am not sure, however, that we can blame President Musharraf for not giving the U.S. enough support. Musharraf is a general/president who must protect his life, his career, and his country in that order. His choices of when to turn a blind eye to Taliban activity and when to crack down on it are, no doubt, carefully calculated. He is making choices based on what is best for himself and his country - which is what leaders do.
Are America's leaders doing the same? Are they making decisions that require us to rely less on propping up regimes and interfering with other cultures? If we really examine our own "backyard, " we will see just as many questionable deals and shifting alliances as there are in the feudal tribes of the border towns. The real culprit is human nature itself.
Great to see this on your website Now I do not have to wait months to see it again.
North East, North East
Pakistan is doing good job and I feel sad about those who sit in their living room like a couch potato (sorry to say) and making assumptions without looking the facts.
I think the first priority for any nation in the world is to save them selves and then help other and proudly Pakistan is doing same thing. At least our army keeping them in the corner as much as they have resources and this is good for Pakistan.
It seems the West only recognized Pakistan as the nursery for Jihad when it was against its own interest. You failed to highlight the genesis of Pakistan state policy which is to confront its neighbor by covert means. Terrorism and Pakistan have been synonymous since its inception. India has been facing the brunt of the state sponsored terror all over the country. The West has been propping up the corrupt Pakistani government while preaching democracy to rest of the world. What is the purpose of offensive weapons systems such as the F16, PC3? Can these be used against the Talibans?? Why does the West keep humoring the Pakistanis? It is a farce that Musharraf is the last hope. The West has to see Pakistan for what it is and put it out of its misery. Terrorism can not be fought selectively. There is no difference between the Talibans, LET, JUM and other Jihadi organization. They are all an extension of each other and sooner the West is ready to accept this sooner we can put the menace of terrorism behind us.
To end all hostilities, tensions and long-term securitiy threats in the area, we need do the following:
1. Pull ALL military support from the federal government of Pakistan, and put them under sanctions (ala Iraq/Libya/Iran).
2. We should be fully supporting the Afghan (Pashtun) and Baloch secular nationalist parties in leaving Pakistan, specifically in Balochistan and the N.W.F.P. (Pakhtunkhwa).
This is the ONLY tenable solution to the long-term security threat that the Durand line poses and the state of Pakistan represents to both its neighbors and the United States.
It must be understood that Pakistan has been crushing its secular democratic parties since its founding. They have been doing this often with the tactical OK of the United States who have percieved Islamabad to be the only option in times past, more in line with Cold-war dynamics. This dynamic is well percieved by the Pakistani public and thus our intentions are not being clearly understood today in the region. Are we friend or foe of the people? This simple question will decide whether we end up winning the War on Terror in Afghanistan and Pakistan. ...