Screening Room: Armed with Faith
Asad Farqui, Director and Cinematographer, Armed with Faith (via skype)
Dr Farzana Shaikh, Associate Fellow, Asia Programme, Chatham House
Dr Katherine Brown, Head, Department of Theology and Religion, University of Birmingham
Chair: Charu Lata Hogg, Associate Fellow, Asia Programme, Chatham House
In the decade following the September 2001 attacks on the US, Pakistan has been involved in its own war on terror that has claimed over 35,000 Pakistani lives. The majority of these have been the result of actions by Al Qaeda and the Taliban operating in the tribal areas around the northwest border with Afghanistan where federal government rule finds it hard to reach.
Armed with Faith, directed by Emmy Award winners Geeta Gandbhir and Asad Farqui, focuses on the lawless province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, considered the gateway into Pakistan for terrorists from Afghanistan and where a majority of attacks take place. The film follows the men of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Bomb Disposal Unit (KPK BDU), detailing the dangers they encounter on a daily basis, including the disposal of bombs with limited materials while racing against time, facing suicide bombers and locating land mines, all while portraying the great personal sacrifices this asks of them and their families.
At a time of diplomatic instability between Pakistan and its main ally in the war on terror, the US, the control of this porous border area is more critical than ever to the stability of the country and global security. The screening will be followed by a Q&A discussion, placing some of the themes raised by the documentary into a wider conversation surrounding Pakistani internal politics, security and foreign policy.
Running time: 80 minutes