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Secret Pakistan: The Taliban and Pakistan—but what’s the secret?

BBC2's Secret Pakistan films reveal nothing new about conflicts in the region, says Geoff Brown

Issue No. 2274

So long as there are foreign forces in Afghanistan, there will be resistance and, sooner or later, the occupiers will be defeated. Everyone knows this is what is going to happen.

Everyone, that is, apart from the people behind Secret Pakistan.

The BBC has clearly put a lot of time and resources into these long films. Much is made of the “revelations” it claims to have discovered. But there is little new to be found from them.

After ten years of war, despite tens of billions of dollars of “aid”, the rotten government of Hamid Karzai is still a puppet that will collapse the moment Western support is withdrawn.

No surprise that the US government and its friends in Britain wants to blame someone else. Who better than the neighbouring Islamic Republic of Pakistan?

Isn’t it true that the ISI, Pakistan’s intelligence agency, has been supporting the Taliban since they helped to create it in the 1990s? Certainly—and it isn’t a secret.

Pakistan and India were created by British “divide and rule” 65 years ago. Pakistan has a million-strong army trained and equipped to fight India—which it has three times, always ending up defeated.

Earlier this month, the Indian government signed a major deal with Karzai. Hence Pakistan’s acquisition of nuclear weapons and its determination to have an ally “on its back door” when the Karzai regime goes.

Unfortunately this documentary isn’t interested in helping us to understand any of this.

Instead, we get lots of talking heads giving us a disjointed history of the efforts to capture Osama Bin Laden and the fight against the Taliban insurgency, padded out with fancy photography. The message is simply that Pakistan has lied and lied.

There also seems to be an underlying prejudice to the documentaries. Pakistanis are shown as the “other”, who don’t follow the rules as we do in the West.

It reflects the ruling class narrative of the US and Britain fighting “the good war against terrorism”, but being hampered in their good intentions by the “disloyal” Pakistan state.

We need to know more about Pakistan, its corrupt ruling class and the consequences of their rule—extreme poverty and inequality, ecological disaster, the rise of Islamic militancy and much else. Unfortunately, Secret Pakistan is useless for this.

Secret Pakistan


Part one shown 9pm, Wednesday 26 October

Also available online at

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Article information

Tue 18 Oct 2011, 18:59 BST
Issue No. 2274
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