Editor's note: This film is no longer available online.

The men of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Bomb Disposal Unit (KPK BDU) are at the front lines of the war against al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Pakistan. 

Responding to call outs and defusing improvised explosive devices (IEDs), sometimes with little more than their bare hands, the team risk their lives on a daily basis to make their region safer.

A hot spot for IEDs and suicide bombings, the border province of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is considered the gateway for fighters from the tribal areas and neighbouring Afghanistan. The battle for control of this porous border area remains critical to the stability of Pakistan and global security.

Two bomb technicians and their commander share their stories: living far from their families, struggling to make ends meet, and facing constant danger, the men are guided by faith and compassion for their fellow man, even those who mean to cause them harm.

"They are people like us, we've let them down," says Inayatullah "Tiger" Khan, a member of the BDU. "They see US drones coming into the country and destroying everything: the strikes kill children, older people, women.

"They don't have the ability to get to the person flying the drones, but we are within reach, we suffer the brunt of their helplessness."

Read more about the KPK BDU here.


 

FILMMAKER'S VIEW

By Geeta Gandbhir and Asad Faruqi

For our film, we embedded with the KPK Bomb Disposal Unit, filming on the training grounds, earning their trust, gaining access to their families.

I have always made films about conflict and war as it has been happening in my backyard. As a Pakistani, I felt I should tell our story of who we are as a people.

Asad Faruqi

We realised immediately that audiences would connect with these brave men, who literally disable bombs with their bare hands, facing death time they go to work. We felt the film could create a greater sense of empathy for the struggle of the people of northern Pakistan and their fight to curb violence. 

Our work is often vested in challenging false, harmful structural and systematic narratives that keep us isolated from each other as human beings and world citizens, and we felt strongly that the stories of these men, who put themselves in great danger in order to protect their communities and homeland, would resonate with a global audience.

This region of the world is seen as a breeding ground for armed groups, but these people are actually on the forefront of battling violence. Muslims are often the first victims, and they're also the first to respond.

Geeta Gandbhir

We also hoped people would come away from the film with a strong counterpoint narrative to racist, xenophobic, anti-Muslim sentiments and legislation. Our goal was for people to feel deeply moved and connected to our characters, with a renewed sense that all human beings - no matter where they live and what religion they practice - ultimately want and deserve the same things: peace, security, dignity, and a hopefully future for their children.

Source: Al Jazeera