Another superb documentary by Vice Productions. The lead journalist, Suroosh Alvi, who does most of the interviews, is a very amiable Pakistani guy who is fluent in Urdu. He’s nearly as good an interviewer as Louis Theroux, except that he never seems to turn off the happy, amiable, fun-loving guy persona, whereas Theroux often seems very serious if not downright disturbed or upset at some of the things he is reporting on, appropriately so.
First they go to Abbottabad to view the house where Bin Laden was killed. Turns out they can’t film the place. They can’t film the house as it’s surrounded by troops and cameras are forbidden, which seems stupid. No one lives there anymore, right? Ok, so why can’t people film the place? They interview a kid who went to the house three times and saw several children living there, but he never saw bin Laden.
They go around Abbottabad and ask people about the house, but no one seems to believe that bin Laden even lived there. They think the Americans just made up the whole thing as a big lie. Even the very bright Westernized students at a medical school believe this. That’s more or less the prevailing view in Pakistan: Who says bin Laden even lived there? Or, No way! How could bin Laden have lived there? In a garrison town, 1/2 mile away from the Pakistani Military Academy? Forget it!
The narrator sums up the situation as he is leaving Abbottabad.
“If bin Laden was living there, and the Pakistanis knew about it, Pakistan is a rogue state. If bin Laden was living there and the Pakistanis didn’t know about it, Pakistan is a failed state.”
That’s about it. Either way, Pakistan pretty much blows.
It turns out that since the death of bin Laden, the Pakistani Taliban has been on a huge offensive, with suicide attacks and car bombs going off all the time, apparently in revenge for bin Laden’s death.
They go to the city of Peshawar, which I thought was a scary thing to do, where they witness a recently blown up police station where two cops have just been dug out of alive.
Then they go to the headquarters of a local Lashkar militia, formed because the government’s response to Taliban attacks has been so lackluster. Now that was a very scary thing to do. These are local guys having to take matters into their own hands due to the Taliban’s war on the locals. Many of the locals here don’t seem too enamored of the Taliban.
At the end they go to a place called Dara Adamkhel. The crew tried to go there two years ago, but it was in Taliban hands at the time and it was a no go zone. However, this time they were able to get in there, which was probably the scariest thing the crew did in this show. The town is no longer in Taliban control. Instead it’s a no man’s land with the Taliban ranging into town on a regular basis. 80% of the shops are closed, and the place looks like a ghost town.
Since 9-11, 35,000 Pakistanis have died in the War on Terror in Pakistan, including 4,300 security officers. Pakistanis don’t seem to think they are getting much out of this deal.
As the car leaves Dara Adamkhel, one gets the feeling that Pakistan is nearly a failed state, a nation coming apart at the seems.