Pakistan’s child soldiers documentry

March 29, 2010

In the PBS Frontline World documentary, Children of the Taliban, filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy interviewed Taliban commander Qari Abdullah who revealed how he  recruits children as young as five, six and seven years old, emphasizing, “Children are tools to achieve God’s will. And whatever comes your way, you sacrifice it.”

Watch here.

One Response to “Pakistan’s child soldiers documentry”

  1. Dear AA@Counter Terrorism, Imperialism, Extremism and Bigotry
    I do not know if my comments on PBS Frontline World documentary, Children of the Taliban would be still valid or read by your viewers since it is a story from April 2009, but after seeing this documentary closely and from a journalist and a researcher’s eyes, I felt angry, sad and disappointed. My frustrations doubled because this documentary is produced by filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy who herself has a Pakistani background.
    In order to be very objective and balanced in my critic, I just want to point out few facts in the beginning.
    • I had a closer look at the contents, technique of questioning and of course, editing of the film. I saw it 3 times before writing this comment
    • I dislike extremism, cannot stand violence and hate terrorism of all types and especially committed on the name of my peaceful religion –Islam. So my comments must not be taken as a critic of the subject but only the way, it was presented and the unfortunate message it gives. Bloggers on AA@Counter Terrorism, Imperialism, Extremism and Bigotry do not need to get upset and accuse me of every thing between heaven and earth
    So here are my comments:
    1. The terminology, wording, phrases, line of leading questions, selection of interviewees and some wrong translation from Urdu to English subtitles gives a clear impression that the film is made for the western public consumption, making money and not to explain the issues of suicide bombing, Taliban movement, crude violence and Pakistan government and public’s disdain of such practices.
    2. Not once Ms. Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy made any effort to balance the bombastic claims and non-sense rhetoric of Qari Abdullah, Imam in Karachi, young village children, Hakimullah Mehsud with interviews of ordinary Pakistanis – students, professionals, politicians, business people who could give the viewers a totally different picture of Pakistan and the struggle against violence, the Pak army has put up. Being a Muslim she should have been more critical and knowledgeable to confront statements like; “Children are tools to achieve God’s will. And whatever comes your way, you sacrifice it.” Holding microphone to terrorists is countered productive.
    3. Phrases like; “rising popularity of a new Pakistani branch of the Taliban, threatening the major cities, “Islamic militants”, “we will take control of Peshawar and other cities”, “The government should forbid women and girls from wandering around outside” and “If the militants continue to expand their war and to recruit children freely, as they do now, then Pakistan may soon belong to them” are not only extremely misleading but also represent opinions of individual actors in the film. To present such stupid and arrogant claims as threatening the State of Pakistan is not only irresponsible but out right lie.
    People who do not know Pakistan well, its 170 million population, huge geographical size and the strength of the 6th largest army in the world, would get this impression that Taliban was about to take over Pakistan, that Pakistanis supported Taliban and that the army would eventually fail.
    Nothing can be further than the truth.
    I do not know, why Ms. Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy completely ignored the facts or left out the following facts on purpose.

    – Taliban has never been a mortal threat to Pakistan and can never be so.
    The reality is that Taliban has been a ragtag army of non-professional tugs of about 10-12 thousans people. They can commit violence and terror but are no match to Pakistani army . When the time came, Pakistan army went into action and drove the Taliban out of Swat valley and nearby areas, killed thousands of militants, restored government’s writ and confidence in local population
    – The area where they were in control for a short time is less than 5% of Pakistan’s total mass. There has never beeen a question of Taliban taking over any city let alone Pakistan
    – Pakistan has the 6th largest army – highly trained, professional and well equiped. They would have never allowed the Taliban any control
    – 90 % Pakistanis dislike religious political parties and even more hate Taliban
    – 95% people support the military operation and denounce the extremists
    Western official worries were unfounded and the anti-Pakistan media propaganda was misplaced and wrong

    In contrast to Ms. Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy, let me answer some questions, which are genuine.

    Why did Pakistan army not finish off Taliban before?
    In a conventional war, Taliban are no match to Pakistan army. Besides it is difficult to differentiate between Taliban and ordinary people in that area who have same ethnicity and culture. By waging an all out war, Pakistani army and the government did not want to make life miserable for the citizens.
    They tried to solve the issue peacefully but soon realised that a strong action was needed. This has happened now and Taliban are running for their life but as a result 3 million pakistanis are displaced as well as large areas are destroyed. Now the West can see why the army did not take such an action before.
    It is however disgraceful that the same werstern media which made such a big noise about Taliban threat, is not couragious to say sorry to Pakistanis for telling lies. Instead media is now blaming Pakistan for creating a refuggee problem and not helping the internally displaced persons.

    Question:Is it not a huge problem that millions have to flee the fighting area?
    Of course, it is. But Pakistani government, charity organisations and the army is doing their utmost to help. We should also remeber that 75% of 3 million displaced persons are living with their families/friends in Pakistan. According to UN reports, nearly half a million have returned to their homes and the ground situation is getting better. I have no doubt that if Pakistani nation can help 4 million Afghans after the Soviet invasion, it would certainly and quickly resettle it’s own citizens.

    Is there a danger of civil war in Pakistan?
    There is no doubt that Pakistan has Taliban, Madrasas, extremism and violence, but Pakistan is not a banana republic. The present government is democratically elected. Pakistanis are a civilised people.
    Politically it is a new country but its history goes back to 5000 years. There is a active political climate, dozens of political parties, established bureaucracy, very lively free media, hundreds of universities and colleges and a large middle class, no one in the west talks about.
    On top of all this, it has an army, which is the best guarantee for peace and stability. Compared to Congo, Columbia, Sri Lanka and dozens of other countries around the world, Pakistan is in much better shape.

    All in all, Ms. Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy’s film only glorifies Taliban and gives unlimited coverage to violent forces. I hope that she goes back to Pakistan and make another documentary. This time ask Pakistanis about their country, daily life, hopes and dreams. That may be more educational than presenting Talibanas Lord of the ring.
    Kind regards

    Bashy Quraishy

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