BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Programmes: Panorama  
News Front Page
Middle East
South Asia
Talking Point
Country Profiles
In Depth
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
Panorama Sunday, 18 November, 2001, 22:09 GMT
Your comments on Afghanistan: The Fall of Kabul
Your Comments on Afghanistan: The Fall of Kabul

Love the BBC special The fall of Kabul, great footage, especially the glass exploding out in the room and the camera being taken then given back to the reporters and cameramen. It's great to see another point of view on the war other than CNN and CBC. I liked the indepth reporting, the background to the fighting. Keep up the good work, your reporting is greatly appreciated.
Renard Chrosciewicz
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

I was away in India throughout september and october,and was starved of un-biased and in-depth reporting. The BBC world was my only source (power supply permitting). I could watch BBC bulletins on and off. But thanks to brave journaists and the great team of the BBC and the two detailed Panoramas, I have got an in depth picture of the whole conflict.

It makes me very cross when a remark is taken out of context and scorn poured on brave correspondents like John Simpson, who have camped out in considerable discomfort to tell us the truth. I am opposed to war, for the suffering it causes to poor common man, and I dont like America flexing its muscles and interfering in world affairs. But even I can't imagine who else could have taken the Taliban on?

I only hope that now that John Simpson is so very famous he will not abandon us in the UK to go on a lecture tour of the USA and will not be accessable to his poor fans like myself.
Sabina Shmed
Taunton, Somerset

The best hour I've spent on the net since early September. I just wish more people in America would watch this presentation.
David Stafford
Michigan City, Indiana, United States of America

The Northern Alliance will end up fighting amongst themselves I agree, but I go further than that. The Allies will de-bunk,for political expediency at home (no casualties)just as soon as al-Qaeda and the Taliban are defeated in Afghan territory.

There will be no UN "share of power" talks, just civil war: the Taliban fighting guerilla warfare from the hills. After that bloodbath, the resulting power in Afghanistan will likely end up fighting Pakistan, who won't countenance any Northern Alliance domination in their neighbour. When that is over with, America and the Allies being blamed for walking away, who will be left in power in Afghanistan? Taliban again?

What of America's and the allies credibility? Perhaps the fight the Allies are dodging now will have to be fought soon and much bloodier elsewhere.

If security and broad-based power is not established now in Afghanistan, including, Taliban, then a much higher price will be paid by everyone later. But then, there may be a different administration in power in the USA and Britain etc. And that is what I mean by political expediency.
James Julian

Congratulations to all reporters and crews who braved the unknown to bring us many aspects of this brutal conflict. My hope now that Afghanistan has freedom of information, is that the BBC will make a documentary for the inhabitants of that country showing how the ordinary peoples of more than 80 countries want to offer assistance with no strings attached to allay understandable fears that foreign states seek to take control.
Rena McCarthy

I am sad to think that the future holds nothing better for Afghanistan

I have great respect for John Simpson, the BBC and some other (not all) news agencies reporting from Afghanistan. What makes me uncomfortable is the growing practice of trivialisation by media organisations all too eager to make their correspondents the subject of the piece instead of the story they are there to cover. The widely reported claim by Mr. Simpson that he and is crew effectively liberated the city of Kabul and the resultant mutterings of derision by opposing news broadcasters such as Julian Manyon of ITN, only serve to make light of what is a very serious story.

This type of activity, a hallmark of American broadcast journalism for years, should not be allowed permeate the media this side of the Atlantic.

Notwithstanding my comments above, I'd like to congratulate BBC News and Panorama programme for adopting a professional and informative approach in their reporting of ongoing events in Afghanistan.
Michael McArdle
Glasnevin, Dublin, Ireland

Having just seen such an awful tale of years of violence, I am sad to think that the future holds nothing better for Afghanistan. The "Northern Alliance" demonstrate their equally bad record in human rights on film and fail to show any respect for the rights of their prisoners of war. If we can expect such action from the "liberators", what hope does Afghanistan really have?

I really don't believe that the war is over. I think this is just a military strategy move by "Bin Ladens al-Qaeda's network", to survive for now and fight another day. Thats why the Pakistanis have not followed them into the mountains north of Kandahar. These are smart and shrewd people.
Brookfield, USA

Do we only mourn when the media tells us to mourn

Of course the Northern Alliance welcomed the help and intervention of the International Coalition. It was the perfect opportunity to provide the overthrow of the Taliban, which they have been unable to achieve themselves. Now that is done, they immediately revert to the archetypal treachery endemic within this region and culture.

Mr Blair has assured Afghanistan that this time we will not abandon them, whatever that's supposed to mean. When are our political leaders going to stop using the tired clichés such as a "Broad based democratic government" and accept that the vast difference between our cultures will not permit the "one size fits all" model of democracy which is portrayed as the personal preserve of the West. What right do we have to insist that the only acceptable thing for the Afghan people is to adopt our processes?

In any case, who and what is Afghanistan? The people are tribal first and anything else a distant second. Who are we to argue with that culture? Certainly tribalism creates fiefdoms, which in turn creates a climate for "civil war", within so-called national boundaries, but that's the way it is. Can we change this culture? Do we have the right to try?

It is a fine thing that we should provide assurances of help to the Afghan people, but the factions in Afghanistan have to behave honourably as well. If they (including, or perhaps especially, the Northern Alliance) can't see that for what it is, then we should concentrate on our initial priority for being there then just get out. The warlords can then sort out their own problems, including the combined ravages of many years of their own civil war and the three years of famine. Why should we wear a hair shirt for people just as greedy and selfish as so many critics portray the West to be? It will not be long before they all start whining again.
Paul B

I feel that double standards have taken over the world. Even though the majority of the world is against the Taliban, does that give the Northern Alliance to commit inhumane behaviour against those captured, especially the elderly.

If the whole world can look on and tolerate this, then I am afraid that there is a problem. Do we only mourn when the media tells us to mourn I ask myself???

Panorama has demonstrated nothing but acceptance of torture in the name of Northern Alliance's so-called victory over Taleban. I totally agree with Dr Paquita de Zulueta's views. Did John Simpson care to show how many women were actually killed by the American bombs or was he too busy blaming Taleban for their suppresion of women? In this war, no one country involved is innocent. What a Geneva convention!
David Rothschild

I was shocked and appalled by Mr Simpson's presentation of Panorama. It was horrifying seeing all the men who were slaughtered and laying on the road like dead sheep, yet Mr Simpson went on praising the Northern Alliance.

His continuous demonising of the Taliban and glorification of the Northern Alliance really annoyed me. He does not need me to tell him that both are as bad as each other. I expected more from John Simpson and quite frankly, I do not rate him as a good journalist. He can not even be impartial - I do not want to hear his biased views I want the honest truth.

Does he really think that slaughter by the Northern Alliance is somehow justified and not by the Taliban? What does he think about the thousands of men who want to surrender but cannot because they will be killed? The Americans want them dead and the UN does not want to know. I bet he thinks whatever the Northern Alliance do is justified because the Americans are with them and therefore they have the licence to kill whoever they want and John Simpson will go on glorifying them.

If Afghanistan (and Pakistan and many other countries) need one thing it's a very big redevelopment of their education systems - both for men and women. Shat they have a real range of alternatives to the madrassas (the religious schools).

We need to show that we can keep promises and stand by the people of Afghanistan

Diana Woods-Smith
It's the madrassas, after all, which seem to be at the back of so much extremism. Yet there doesn't seem to be any other free education available in these countries. Perhaps a universal education system might have made a real difference in Rwanda as well. But the last time I heard UNESCO mentioned it was as an almost terminally corrupt "Jobs for the boys" outfit run for the benefit of its highly paid staff (many of whom seemed to come, ironically, from Third World countries). That's a memory of some expose I remember from way back and I've heard nothing about this organisation since.

Yet a GI bill for Afghan soldiers would seem to be an ideal way to get them to see peace as a realistic alternative to yet more "warlordism". Of course, the Western arms industries would lose some of their best customers so it probably won't happen.

Perhaps a programme showing who has profited from the war so far would make interesting TV too.

Lastly, I thought John Simpson was out of order when I saw him claiming to "liberate" Kabul but, on reflection, I thought him and his crew very brave to walk in as they did. There could very easily have been snipers, landmines and booby traps left behind. I reckoned he was simply being a (very) competitive and spirited journalist and his teasing of his competitors just came out the wrong way. What with the Blue Planet and all, we certainly can't lay that staid old "Auntie" image on the Beeb! John Anderson
John Anderson

It is easy to blame America for past mistakes but I believe Britain cannot afford to be bullish as we have been in the past. We need to show that we can keep promises and stand by the people of Afghanistan after the war, particularly with re-building and giving food aid.

Incidentally, I am interested to know how, in a largely famished country, BBC correspondents keep well fed!Keep up the good work John et al.
Diana Woods-Smith

I just want to show my disgust at America turning their back on Afghanistan after a long bloody brutal war against Russia. Now they want to intervene in choosing a "broad-based government" because they are providing the single-most threatening challenge to the super-power of the world!

George Bush's heart pleading speeches won't work too!

Why can't he just admit he wants oil and total dominance to suit his and America's needs??
Raja Chawalwala

History has a bad habit of repeating itself

Ameet Datta
I would like to commend the entire BBC team who have made this report and also are at the moment covering the afghan crisis. Well it's about time the Afghans select their leaders - and the neighbouring countries refrain from influencing them. In the past and especially now they are being used for personal gains of the other nations. I really hope and pray that Afghanistan rises from the shambles to become a "Soverign" and prosperous nation.
Farooq Wahab
Karachi - Pakistan

Unfortunately nothing is going to change, in my view, for the Afghan civilian. This isprimarily becase the Americans have once again fallen into the trap of ethnic divide laid by Pakistan. To Pakistan Afganhistan is merely territory that will provide it with strategic depth. In this regard it is critical for Pakistan that Afghanistan be unstable if not friendly.

American forces caught between the devil and the deep blue sea now have two choices firstly to side with the minority Northern Alliance forces and accentuate the ethnic divide in Afghanistan or secondly to side with Pakistan backed moderate Taliban and Pashtun forces which will certainly push the situation back to a proxy war between USA and Russia, with countries like Russia backing the Northern Alliance.

History has a bad habit of repeating itself.
Ameet Datta
New Delhi, India

I would like to thank the Panorama team for an outstanding and remarkable documnetary. The bravery was outstanding and I am sure that they will be rewarded with what they intended.
Masih ad-Dajjal

I was sickened and appalled to hear of the mutilation of four mujahadeen(whether alive or dead at the time was not clear) by the Taleban reported on Radio 4's Sunday (18.11.01) 7pm news. It made me physically sick.

Maybe we should know and see what happens in places like Afghanistan because we are too sheltered and protected in this part of the world.

My own uncle who went through the Khyber Pass as a soldier of 16 in 1917 recalled the human heads on spikes set in the walls of the fort at Khandahar. He was appalled too. It seems there is no limit to human inhumanity.In the name of Allah or God how can this all be justified? The truth is, it cannot
Ruth Thomas

I am a military legal officer with a US Air Force headquarters leading the humanitarian aid/food drops over Afghanistan. The vivid in-your-face living color images from the fall of Kabul cannot easily be erased. We, the global community, must do all we can to relieve suffering, aid self-determination, and urge a comprehensive recovery of this country and her people.
J. Tauro

To add a little sensationalism to his report John Simpson shows us what he calls a box cutter found in a former residence of the Taliban and says that this was similar to those used on 11th September. Wrong. The knife he showed us can be described a hobby knife or a snap-off knife but it is not a box cutter. A box cutter is a short bladed knife designed to open boxes without damaging its contents. He also points to some chemicals and says that they were probably used for making explosives. It may have been cleaning fluid. Why did he not read the label? Just a few things make a lot of difference to a news report. Shabby stuff from the BBC.
Paul Anthony

After reading the comments that people made, I was deeply upset: are people really deluded? Just because we see the Northern Alliance gain control of Kabul and other strategic locations, this is no way means law & order will be restored. Rather, it reminds me of the time not so long ago when the CIA funded and helped the Taleban beat the Russians. Now, the Northern Alliance have so called 'power' and I dread to imagine what is to develop now... 'watch this space' as the saying goes.
Hassan Ali

We hope that the Afghan people will be allowed to choose their own Government

Charlotte Gem, Jersey
Congratulations to John Simpson and William Reeves for their report. A group of us from all denominations and faiths are praying for the innocent civilians in Afghanistan. We hope that Western leaders will honour their promises to help rebuild the country and bring peace. We hope that the Afghan people will be allowed to choose their own Government. It is their country, not that of the Western powers. The role of the West should be to broker peace. We should also try and clear the landmines that cover the country. We have the technology and the equipment to do so.
Charlotte Gem
Jersey - Channel Islands

It was a good Panorama. I was both enchanted by the happy experiences the liberated Afghans enjoyed, and appalled by the ferocity of the conflict. It was exhausting. The journalism on display was war reporting at its finest. However, when John Simpson decided to walk ahead into Kabul, I couldn't help but feel that he crossed the invisible line where a journalist must faithfully report the news and not make the news. Am I alone in this?
Mark Hoggatt
Crawley Down, W. Sussex

The BBC have, in the past, occasionally risked breaching operational security. In the coverage of the current human disaster, Broadcasting journalists on the BBC have shown compassion for those on both sides of this conflict. Do the UN move so slowly as they appear to, there are British soldiers in a very exposed position, but a great hearts and minds job would be to start flying food into that place now. And given the number of transistor radios in Afghanistan they could use the BBC to spread the word, because they bombed Al jazeera so they can't do it

I do appreciate what Mr John Simpson and other reporters have done to show the world what is going on in Afghanistan, but I think John Simpson and the other reporters are always on the Northern Alliance's side. They always say good things about them and bad thing about the Taleban. What I mean by this is that both the Northern Alliance and the Taleban are no good at all. They do what they want to do, they do not think about people, just all they think about is power! All I'm asking for is a fair judgement.

People are now seeing hope in the future for Afghanistan

Chris McDonald, Cambridge
All the people who bashed the campaign saying it wouldn't work or the US is going to lose must feel pretty stupid now. People are now seeing hope in the future for Afghanistan, something they haven't felt for years. It took 6000 deaths to accomplish this. Again the US does the dirty work for the rest of the world. The rest of the world needs to get off its behind and contribute support(A significant amount: military, aid, personel,etc).
Chris Mcdonald

I very much agree with the comments made by Tahira Farid of Manchester. I too was much saddended by the scenes shown tonight.
M Pius

It must be the most the most exciting and dramatic viewing of current events of all time. What brave men your staff (particularly John Simpson) are out there. Congratulations and safe journeyings to them all.
Geoff Diggle

I am concerned that Panorama (and other programmes) are giving so little time to the issue of women's rights in Afghanistan. Whilst John Simpson implied that all was now well for women - they could take off their burkhas, "wear make-up", receive education, etc. true emancipation remains only a possibility unless more emphasis is placed on the human rights of women under whatever male regime is appointed.
Linda Hughes
Newton Abbot

I'm tired of the whole world saying America didn't help us, or we need aid from America blah blah blah. America is not responsible for the whole world. They are their own country, and what they do is their business. Everywhere you look people criticise the US for their actions, as ANY other country they look out for their best interest, and their allies as well. How come you never hear of other countries being criticised as much? When was the last time any other country did anything important? Very rarely (Think about it). Even in the wars of the last 20 years, look at the percentage of forces the Americans contributed compared to the rest of the world. Even now as the Taleban occupies 15 percent(down from 90) are the rest of the world pledging forces? Apart from the UK's 2 cruise missiles launched. The world should be ashamed, we are stronger together than we are divided.
Chris McDonald

Congratulations to John Simpson and team for their reports on war in Afghanistan. It's pure and simple, no fancy materials that spoil the reports from the beginning of the war towards the end. I just hope the Northern Alliance would not be another monster like the Taleban regime in the next few years due to their religion sectarian differences. However my friend and I would like to congratulate you and your team for a neutral and simplicity of your coverage during the war. Well done.

I am so happy for the people of Kabul - at least they can be people again but please help to keep them that way.

Very interesting report tonight from both sides in Afghanistan. Both John Simpson and William Reeve gave the viewers a good account of the many problems of this very troubled country. I very much hope that if the British forces are involved in any peace building duties, they are successful, and this will bring a lasting peace to this country. It is sad that the Americans do not want to get involved in any peace building role. With the downfall of the Taleban, let us all in the West hope that a lasting peace will come to this region. We also, must not forget the terrible food shortages in this region, and hopefully can help in solving this problem as well.
Steve Fuller
Brighton & Hove

Any disunity on the West's part can only encourage similar behaviour on the part of the Afghans

Colin Smith, Norwich
Excellent. However, both the U.S. and other allies must speak with one voice. Any disunity on the West's part can only encourage similar behaviour on the part of the Afghans. Let them do their own fighting and let us do as much for the non-belligerents as possible. These are decent people who have historically given the world no cause for anger; as long as that world has left them alone.
Colin Smith

It would have been more sobering to have more balanced account of where the US bombs have fallen, and what damage they have made. We all seen the civilians been displaced or killed in the US attacks. It would have been more real to count the number of civilians been killed, in Afghanistan to be added to the number of the victims of September the 11th. The death of a civilian is a death of a civilian, in the US, Britain or Afghanistan.

In the programme John Simpson shows us documents found at an address known to be have been inhabited by senior members of the Taleban. He also shows us a German licence plate and a compliments slip from a Canadian company. Was this a responsible action? These documents may be valuable sources of intelligence. Should they not be kept secret and handed over to the British military in Afghanistan? Details provided by these documents may provide clues to past and future terrorist actions in the UK and US.
Paul Anthony

John Pilger this morning condemned the bombing of Afghanistan. He has also in the past condemned the military action taken over Kosovo and the Falklands. Just how many times can a man get it so wrong? I believe he is right when he says we should use the rule of law through the United Nations but how many Jumbo jets full of petrol would plough into buildings before the UN solved the problem of fanatics in the short term? He also has a peculiar idea of what Afghanistan is. It is a geographical expression - a land of Barbary pirates which must finally be sorted out. This is where the UN can now be effective - after the surgery to remove the unstable, fanatical nutcases who nobody should even try to understand because they have nothing to do with Islam.
A Dean

One shudders to think what the Northern Alliance does when the cameras are not around

Al, London
That was an excellent programme. It was fortunate the presence of the BBC crew saved the lives of at least half a dozen Prisoners of War - one shudders to think what the Northern Alliance does when the cameras are not around. On a different note, will the US now encourage other countries to abide by international laws and UN resolutions - like India's illegal occupation of Kashmir, like Israel's occupation of Palestine... somehow I doubt it - only the strong get justice in this world!

Thank you for an informative and instructive programme on the Afghan crisis. I admire John Simpson as a correspondent [in spite of his goof over arrival in Kabul] and am glad you had William Reeve as a contributor because of his experience, knowledge of the region and all the hard work he has put in so far in covering Afghanistan. My salaams to him, as an old, old friend, and all the best to him, your correspondents and team. Hope you will continue to relay more good programmes about this sad, tragic affair.
Floreeda Safiri

I think the programme was very good, I was deeply saddened to see the Taleban soldiers being brutally hit ... it doesn't matter which 'side' they are on... they are still human at the end of the day. Thanks for highlighting this issue as most people thought it was a day of rejoicing where women were given the freedom to take off their burqas and men allowed to have a shave.
Tahira Farid

This kind of reportage trivialises killing and legitimises violence

Dr Paquita de Zulueta, London
I was appalled that Panorama chose to show us people being brutalised, terrorised, and degraded. The cameraman zoomed in on captives' distress and terror. Corpses were being vandalised and degraded. Many victims were clearly about to be killed and/or tortured. This was all reported in the same tones as if we were watching people carrying out mundane activities. This kind of reportage trivialises killing and legitimises violence. The fall of Kabul may not herald a new dawn for human rights in Afghanistan or a lasting victory over terrorism. There are many grounds for thinking that the scene is being set for a bloody civil war. I am shocked that a programme of this calibre makes its viewers participate voyeuristically to man's inhumanity and unbridled aggression. It appeared that the BBC team approved and colluded in acts which contravene the Geneva convention. This is both shameful and unfortunate.
Dr Paquita de Zulueta

Well balanced - credit given by John Simpson to all involved in the report - all is forgiven..

John Simpson - Thank you very much for another super documentary about Afghanistan. It was as good as your previous documentary about Afghanistan. And thank you for your daily news report from Afghanistan. All you said in your report was true.

Great programme - a still and proud country, an active and proud people, a country of awe inspiring visions.
Andrew Harris

It was good to see the footage of the man saying how Islam was a good religion which had been abused - sometimes horrifying, but necessary reportage.
Collin Little
Glasgow, Scotland

We should have known what was in store for us when the Taleban blew up the Bamiyan Bhuddas.

I just saw your Panorama programme about Afghanistan - Well done
P. Jansen

See also:

16 Nov 01 | Panorama
05 Oct 01 | Panorama
Links to more Panorama stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |