Andover Hosts Pakistani filmmaker

Renowned Pakistani journalist and filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy visited Andover for the screening of her latest documentary, “Pakistan’s Taliban Generation,” on Wednesday. Since her debut as a filmmaker in 2002 with her first documentary “Terror’s Children,” Obaid-Chinoy has been acclaimed for her depiction of modern global issues. She has produced more than twelve films covering current affairs of Middle Eastern countries, such as Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. In “Pakistan’s Taliban Generation,” Obaid-Chinoy conducted interviews with children and teenagers recruited to Taliban schools, known as “madrassa.” Her documentary exposed the political friction between the Pakistani army and Taliban insurgents, who are currently fighting each other within Pakistan. She also discussed how this fighting has affected civilians caught in the crossfire of battle. Children are particularly vulnerable to the fighting in Pakistan. The political and social turmoil has destabilized the nation’s educational system, which leaves Pakistani parents with few education options for their children, she said. Because the Taliban schools provide food and shelter for their students, they are particularly attractive to low income families, said Obaid-Chinoy. “The Taliban definitely knows how to play people’s emotions,” said Obaid-Chinoy. Over the past several years, more kids have joined the Taliban forces and have carried out numerous acts including suicide bombings. According to Obaid-Chinoy, the Taliban committed eight suicide bombings last week alone. Obaid-Chinoy also interviewed wounded Pakistani soldiers and child victims of the terrorist violence in order to illustrate the severity of the current Pakistani situation, and to suggest that immediate assistance is necessary to stop the turmoil in her homeland. Peter Merrill, Head of the World Languages Division and Instructor in Russian, said, “Having been to Pakistan many years ago before the Taliban rose to such power, I was surprised to see the country in such a serious, violent, political unrest.” Angelica Jarvenpaa ’11 said, “I had followed current events but had never really understood the background of the conflict in Pakistan. The film was incredibly insightful and taught me not only the basic background, but the challenges that lie ahead for the nation.” Obaid-Chinoy concluded her film screening by expressing her hope for Pakistan to undergo educational reforms and concentrate on educating the younger generations of Pakistan. Conflict between neighbors is one of the greatest challenges to resolving conflict in Pakistan, according to Obaid-Chinoy. Obaid-Chinoy is the first non-American journalist to receive the Livingston Award, a national award issued to media professionals under the age of 35 for excellence in local, national and international reporting. Her films have aired on networks such as CNN, PBS and the Discovery Channel.