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Panorama Wednesday, 10 October, 2001, 09:27 GMT 10:27 UK
Your comments on Afghanistan - The Dark Ages
Your Comments on Afghanistan - The Dark Ages

The forum is now closed.

It's funny how the same information is seen in so many different ways by so many different people. We all watched the same programme and yet we all came out with our own opinions anyway. That always seems to be the way with John Simpson's work. He doesn't preach from an almighty position, he's human like the rest of us after all. This programme was superbly made and open to everyone. The blame for the plight of Afghanistan, didn't lie the Taleban, the Islamic world, the USA or the anyone else. The truth was told, it's been torn apart by every army that's ever passed through it, and everyone who's ever tried to put things right afterwards. What more could be said? The rest of the program dealt with what could be improved by the removal of the Taleban. It wasn't anything more sinister than that.

It seems Afghanistan is the shell of a country, nothing more. Trying to unite a nation which has been at war for virtually it's entire history seems to be a very difficult task indeed. Even more so now that the Taleban don't have a strong single competitor for power since the assassination of Gen. Masood. All good points brought up by the discussion.

I abhor and condemn terrorism, and so do all Muslims

Manuar Hashim, London
One thing you can't deny about this programme is that it got a lot of people talking about a situation they weren't really paying attention to before. You can't really ask for more than that. The Panorama crew don't have the answers to all Afghanistan's problems, but they at least helped a few people start asking the right questions.
Newcastle Upon Tyne

I feel, as do many other Muslims, that most Muslims have been extremely patient over the last few decades after receiving some horrendous treatment (both militarily, and by the media). As the BBC are well aware, their (and other media groups) loose use of the terms 'militant' and 'fundamentalism' have enraged Muslims like myself. I love people, but I also love Islam. I respect life, and expect other life to respect me. I abhor and condemn terrorism, and so do all Muslims. However, the term 'terrorism' has different meanings to different people. Some are blatantly hypocritical with it's usage, whilst others cleverly ignore "state" terrorism. Muslims have suffered immensely over the last few decades (and longer) but kept, patience, and faith in God. There seems to be no justice. Without going to extremes, the general Muslim population would like to see, at least in the media, a balanced and level playing field.

I don't agree with the term "War ON Terrorism", rather "War OF Terrorism". Without being too blunt about it, and feeling extremely helpless watching (Al-Jazeera) innocent lives being massacred, all we (the UK) have to do is stop the killing - persuade the US to stop, and actually put our actions where our mouths are - i.e. this is not a war against ISLAM, in fact this is no WAR. Let's just say sorry, and stop. This may now be too late, as revenge attacks will most definitely be attempted, and even if thwarted a few times, will definitely lead to more "terrorised" people in the UK/USA. Please try and be balanced in your depiction of Islam - the media may hold the key in not rocking the boat.
Mr. Manuar Hashim

My goodness, what a fabulous piece of reporting. I wish more Americans could see this sort of coverage. I've actually given up on American electronic media as far as coverage of this situation is considered. The BBC and the CBC in Canada are so far ahead of the American networks it is not funny. And once you get past The Christian Science Monitor and the New York Times, the papers aren't much better. Thank goodness for the BBC.
Walter Regan
Boston, USA

Excellent show!!! America should see this to help explain Afghanistan and to help explain what is going on there. My hat is off to you all.
Randall S Dunphy
Oxnard, Ca, USA

I sincerely hope the world power will learn from the past story of Afghanistan

Sam, Miami
Brilliant, absolutely brilliant documentary. Until tonight, I had know idea of how much the citizens of Afghanistan are suffering. Their situation is almost like a revolving door, and my heart goes out to the children and women of Afghanistan. I sincerely hope the world power will learn from the past story of Afghanistan, and not leave the country to fend for itself after the terrorist are "routed out". This is a piece of journalism that must be broadcasted to countries around the world so that the average person can see the plight of the Afghan people. My hat's off to BBC and Mr Simpson for a job well done.
Miami, USA

Having been born in England I know how informative the BBC is. I do not see any regard for the world outside of America by journalists here so I am grateful to the Panorama crew to brave perils and go to Afghanistan to show their peoples' plight. Please everyone in the world, don't ignore the Afghans. Do not take civilian lives but remove the Taleban and help the Afghans to simply survive. What has the western world been doing letting them rot away like this? Where are the fundraisers for them? I don't see any. Shame on you NATO.
Tabish Syed
New York

Brilliant! This documentary should be sent to the USA, it's important for them to understand and learn that they are not the only victims here. No one deserves to be forced to live like this, and what we're doing now is just making the situation worse. Well done on such an informative and considerate piece of journalism, if only everyone took the same care!

There is no such thing as "those terrorists". All governments have been terrorist at one time or another to serve their own 'national' interests. The USA has had a chance to get past its internal war against the Southern States and its racist civil war days against the blacks. No other superpower at the time imposed sanctions on them nor branded them nor bombed them. Today USA should let the world get past its own growing pains and let true democracy reign supreme if other states choose of their own volition.
Huma Beg

It's sheer hypocrisy to attack the Taliban for the consequences of western interference

David Parker, London
Why are there so many Muslims with such negative comments towards 'Westerners' especially assuming that these acts of aggression are against Islam? Islam is not the issue, the issue is terrorism. Are they agreeing that Aghanistan should be left to grow terrorism and opium?
Gretna, LA, USA

How can it be just for the West to bomb Afghanistan for harbouring bin Laden when they helped install him there in the first place? It was alright to supply him with US arms and British military training in the late 1980s. It's sheer hypocrisy to attack the Taliban for the consequences of western interference.
David Parker

Today if the world wants peace it must understand the greatest force that truly effects all people - Religion! Be it Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism etc. Even as Muslim States we now need to understand Islam in our own languages. We all need to stop parroting the Arabic Quranic verses without understanding the translations and stop listening to the uneducated mullas and start listening to GOD. The surprise we will find is that we all share common human values.
Danyaal Mustafa

A very thought provoking programme indeed. John Simpson has done a commendable job. It is outrageous to say that the people of Afghanistan have always lived like they do under the Taleban regime. Afghanistan was a much better country even under the Soviet occupation. People had some opportunities and enjoyed at least basic freedom.

On the face of it an excellent report. I always have reservations about these kind of reports as they do, naturally, have the bias of the reporter, due to what they have witnessed in their time on the ground. This is natural and I believe unavoidable. However, to quantify this; I have found Mr Simpson, and indeed the BBC to be by far and away the most factual, unemotional and trustworthy news broadcasters I have observed. To this I must add that I am extensively travelled myself, and have been (for months at a time) in many varied cultures and environments.

It is from this that I gain both my opinion of the BBC and particularly Mr Simpson. This broadcast did nothing to change my view of the situation or what I believe the response to present events should be; these were issues that I was already firmly decided on, without any help from various media. The point of this missive is that I would like to congratulate Mr Simpson on the research, the delivery and most importantly the humanity of his report.
Simon Lack

Simply put: this was a (deeply troubling and thought-provoking) report without any parallel. Ever since the dreadful events of 11th Sept, I have been struggling to comprehend two things in particular. Firstly, to begin to comprehend the mind-set of the perpetrators - prepared to die for a cause that so deliberately killed non-combatants on a massive scale. Secondly (and as a most emphatic Mrs Thatcherphobe) to wonder why the message from the Muslim establishment has been either guarded or not made more prominent. This programme was the first, that I have seen, that allowed one to begin to comprehend both the vast complexities of "Afghanistan" and of the current divisions existing within Islam. Can you possibly produce more of the same quality?
Paul Kski
Co Cavan, Ireland

Full marks to John Simpson for his in-depth report on the recent history of Afghanistan. The programme brilliantly highlighted the way in which the poor country has been used as a proxy battlefield where neighbours and superpowers have waged war without the risk of their own people getting killed. Perhaps the Americans wouldn't be so gung-ho if they were forced to watch the programme which clearly identified their CIA as a major player in the ongoing tragedy which is Afghanistan.
Freddy Hallot

That was an excellent programme which brought out the true story of what went on in the country. The insight into the conflicts which have been part of their culture is something that American's and members of all free and democratic countries should watch and learn from.
Josh Auckman
Castlebar, Mayo, Ireland

The production was extraordinarily good. The information is essentially the same as I have read by various columnists in a few U.S. newspapers and magazines, but accomplished on the ground and graphically displayed.

The first intelligent, in-depth, balanced analysis of the current situation in Afghanistan

Theresa Madeira, San Francisco
Moreover, the report seems to indicate that the Taleban is destined to be ousted from power. My question would be, "If so, what is next, and does the radical sect of Islam that the Taleban and bin Laden represent simply disappear, or do they come back to haunt us?" I think it was implied that Osoma bin Laden and the Taleban are a symptom and not the problem. I still would like to see an informed and open discussion regarding the problem. Obviously, we are part of the problem, but can we part of the solution?
Larry Vetter
Kerrville, Texas

Thank you John Simpson and thank you BBC. Your Panorama programme is truly the first intelligent, in-depth, balanced analysis of the current situation in Afghanistan and the history behind it to hit TV screens in the US to date. May it be viewed by a wider audience here. Only by learning about Afghanistan's recent history can people get beyond what happened in NY and DC and understand these dreadful events in their global and historical contexts. Whilst the US has undoubtedly saved lives in some of its overseas political, diplomatic and military interventions, its policy in Afghanistan has been disastrous. I hope the Bush administration learns the lessons of the dangers of disengagement and formulates a balanced, foreign policy with regard to the Middle East. We need more informed comment and less hype and hysteria from the media here. Keep up the great job!
Theresa Madeira
San Francisco

The vast majority of comments posted here congratulate John Simpson's research on the Taleban phenomena but how many have asked themselves how factual it actually was or to what extent it served to dictate public opinion. If people are going to base their opinion on only this edition of Panorama then this is ignorance. The Pashtun people are extremely religious but it is also a patriarchal society. On a recent month-long visit to the north-west frontier of Pakistan which borders Afghanistan, I didn't see a single woman in the streets that was not covered in the burkha. Why do we not have the world criticising Pakistan then for its harsh treatment of women?

They have lived like this for hundreds of years and they are a content people. We in the West have no right to dictate to other peoples what constitutes civilisation just because we disagree with their culture. This is what John Simpson has done. Let's be perfectly clear about one thing: Had the Taleban allowed American companies to build pipelines to pump Central Asian oil out to the US, they would not be the current villain but a darling of the west, no matter what half-truths John Simpson cares to report about, whether they be executions, heroin smuggling or enslavement of women.

Your documentary provided me with an in-depth look on the Taleban regime. It gave me answers that other stations here in the US are for one reason or another unable to provide. Thank you!
Matej Spisak
Pittsburgh, USA

Impressive reporting - truly a great contribution in information and profoundness on the subject. It shows the images and facts that make us (the public) get a clear and unprecedented picture of the situation of Afghanistan and the suffering of its people in the struggle for survival, a nation brought to its knees in so many aspects. Keep up the great work.
Alvaro Gutierrez Prado
Guadalajara, Mexico

I would just like to say, "Afghanistan - The Dark Ages" is THE programme people all over the world need to see for themselves. Even for those of us with an inkling of an understanding for the very real horrors the Afghani people face everyday, got a shocking reality check. Thank you for your profound coverage; I can only hope and pray that its message AND the message of the assassinated Northern Alliance leader Massoud will be heard. Once some kind of order is established and a humanitarian Islamic government takes on the colossal endeavour of rebuilding Afghanistan, we the international community cannot turn our back on these human beings, our brothers and sisters.
Laura Kane
Chicago, USA

1) We were not in Afghanistan in the 1870's - you Brits brought western civilization to them. 2) We in the U.S. give billions each year in humanitarian aid through the U.N., so quit your griping! 3)It is not our responsibility , nor do I believe the Afghanis would welcome, the U.S. determining their way of life for them. 4)Those of you who resent the U.S., do you not still share all of the modern conveniences and benefits of high standards of living? 5)We did not invite the terrorists to kill 6000 innocent people. After all those were not army installations they went after. 6)As in the past, we will dispense any justice we see fit as a nation upon those that attack us. We are happy for Allies but, quite frankly we can do this for ourselves if some are of weak stomach and fail to see the danger in these acts to all free men.
Tom Daniel
Florida, USA

The people of Afghanistan must be liberated from Bin Laden and others like him

Nick Beck, San Diego
Thank you so much for your report on Afghanistan - The Dark Ages. We Americans do not want the civilians of Afghanistan hurt. I realize that many more people will be hurt and killed as this war progresses. The US and the world must stand together to stop terrorism which has now become a part of our lives. The people of Afghanistan must be liberated from Bin Laden and others like him. What choice do we have but to wage war on him and people that have done such a terrible thing as what happened on September 11, 2001. Most American citizens do not want war, but we do stand together on this war against these terrorists. Most Americans do not know what happens in the Middle East, but hear terrible stories and view reports such as this. We need to become aware of what is happening there. Thank you.
Nick Beck
San Diego, USA

Having just finished watching the superb Mr. Simpson's report on BBC America, my first wish is that it would be shown to a wider US audience. Despite umpteen 24-hr news channels, we are starved for that sort of compassionate, respectful and above all, informative news programming in this country. Please stay safe, Mr. Simpson; the world needs people like you.
H Black
Los Angeles, CA, USA

I watched this Panorama with great interest on BBC America. I am an English person who has been living in America for 14 years. I was devastated by what I saw. It has been an absolute eye opener and one wonders why we had not known about this situation before. I think I must have had my head buried in the sand. It was only after the devastation here on September 11th that we had any understanding at all about the Afghan situation.

I always used to watch Panorama in England. I now realise how informative your programme was. I continue to watch BBC America which keeps me in touch with my country. Thank you for showing it here in America. I will try to explain to my friends the situation as I know they are not fully aware of this here. Thank you once again.
Kathleen Till
Danville, California

The Taleban needs to be removed and replaced with a government that knows what the religion of Islam is really about. That alone would solve a lot of that countries problems. This goes for any country that is in agreement with them. If aid is needed in some cases, then they should get it. This country fully believes in freedom of religion. This is about terrorism all over the world, and this just happens to be where we started getting serious about getting rid of it.

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