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Witness
Witness: Pakistan in crisis
A selection of films that provide an insight into the unfolding crisis in Pakistan.
Last Modified: 28 May 2009 21:57 GMT


As the crisis in Pakistan's North West Frontier Province worsens, Al Jazeera's Rageh Omaar investigates Pakistan's role in the "war on terror".

Rageh revisits the scene of the military assault on the Red Mosque, which he witnessed in July 2007, he speaks to Pakistan's president and to opposition leaders, and he discovers the cost of the 'war on terror' for Pakistan.

The films provide an extraordinary insight into the unfolding crisis and reveal the issues at the root of it.

Rageh Omaar travels from the capital, Islamabad, to the tribal heartlands to chart the spread of suicide bombings and the escalation of violence that has turned Pakistan into a war zone.

Pakistan's War: The Battle Within

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Rageh and his team had been the last television crew inside the Red Mosque before the siege began in July 2007.

He filmed the last interview with Abdul Rashid Ghazi, the leading cleric at the mosque, before his death.

In this film, Rageh revisits the Red Mosque and learns that the showdown there marked a turning-point in Pakistan's war with the insurgents - the moment when the Taliban-backed insurgency moved from the tribal areas on the border with Afghanistan to the heart of the capital, sparking an ongoing wave of violence inside Pakistan.

Al Jazeera speaks to Asif Ali Zardari, the Pakistani president, who denies that he is fighting a proxy war for the West in the 'war on terror'.

Instead, Zardari argues that his determination to defeat the insurgents and bring democracy to the tribal areas of Pakistan is part of a comprehensive home-grown programme to strengthen legitimate institutions, build state capacity and create a new relationship between the government and the army.

"I will take the writ of law to the ends of the last border post of Pakistan," pledges Zardari.

"That means there will be police stations, there will be judges, there will be civil society and civil law. We have to make people understand that they cannot challenge the writ of the state and they cannot blackmail the world into listening to their point."

Pakistan's War: On the Front Line

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Rageh Omaar joins the Pakistani army in their full-scale military offensive against fighters on the frontier with Afghanistan.

In Bajaur province - where Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda's second in command, is believed to be hiding - Rageh witnesses a decisive moment in the army's campaign.

He follows infantry from house to house in their advance on the Taliban stronghold of Loe Sam and is forced to retreat when the army unit he is filming comes under fire from Taliban fighters.

He speaks to Major General Janjua, who says: "We are suffering the maximum, we are contributing the maximum ... we are sacrificing for the sake of the world."

Al Jazeera also talks to the insurgents who oppose Zardari's ambition to bring democracy to the tribal areas and instead are fighting for the imposition of Islamic law inside Pakistan.

Inside the Red Mosque

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In the days leading up to the storming of the Red Mosque in July 2007, Rageh Omaar gained exclusive access to the site.

He and his team were the last TV crew inside the mosque before the siege began and filmed the last interview with Abdul Rashid Ghazi, one of the mosque's leaders, before his death.

The film also offers unique access to the Jamia Hafsa madrasa, the religious seminary for women attached to the Red Mosque.

Two days into the filming, clashes erupted at the mosque between students and security forces. A week later, an estimated 100 people were dead.

Across the Border

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Across the Border is the extraordinary account of Rageh Omaar's journey to Peshawar in northern Pakistan.

He meets John Butt, a journalist who runs a local radio service with a difference - it broadcasts to the tribal areas on both sides of the Pakistan-Afghan border, where people have suffered through years of bloodshed and successive occupations and where thousands have been displaced as refugees.

But this is no ordinary journalism project. The stories are selected to give a voice to the grassroots and are aimed at helping conflict resolution.

Rageh follows a reporter on the road, and then travels with John to see the tiny Radio Khyber at work trying to persuade two rival Sunni factions, traditional and reformist, to sit together for a broadcast discussion.

Power Play in Pakistan

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Rageh Omaar and Farah Durrani follow the twists and turns of events in Pakistan, with extraordinary access to Pervez Musharraf, the former Pakistani president, as he handed over command of the army to General Ashfaq Kayani.

Against the backdrop of an increasingly isolated military government, Rageh and Farah follow the increasing numbers of lawyers and judiciary who lead a grassroots opposition against what they describe as a military dictatorship.

In this film, Rageh speaks to key political figures in the opposition movement, including the late Benazir Bhutto and Imran Khan, who was released from a spell in prison during the recent period of emergency rule imposed by Musharraf.

Source:
Al Jazeera
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