Tuesday, April 14, 2009

PBS Frontline World: Taliban in Pakistan; Internet addiction in Korea

PBS Frontline World tonight presented two disturbing international reports. The basic link is this.

The first story, 40 minutes, as “Pakistan: Children of the Taliban”, reported by Obaid-Chimoy. The report focused on a village (“Swat”), just outside the tribal areas, that the Pakistani government “surrendered” to the Taliban for peace. The Taliban is reinstalling Sharia law for the family, and recruiting young men into its tribal values, which, in western views, means submission of women. In these areas, women are again being forced to wear burqas. In some areas, the Taliban seems to be reinstalling the madrassas, which force young boys to memorize the Koran in Arabic, when they speak Urdu. The rhetoric of the young men and mullahs seemed to be purely religious rather than psychological. That contradicts other media report that the Taliban's recent aims have become "financial". The Taliban swears that it will topple the entire Pakistani government, which could leave it with access to Pakistan’s “suitcase nukes.”

An article in the New York Times by Jane Perlez, April 16, 2009, "Taliban Exploit Class Rifts in Pakistan", (link) talks about the issues in the Swat Valley and indicates that the Taliban is trying to exploit left-wing ideology about "undeserved wealth" to implement a right-wing style oppression of women and the family. The article says, "The Taliban’s ability to exploit class divisions adds a new dimension to the insurgency and is raising alarm about the risks to Pakistan, which remains largely feudal."

The second part of the program, “Korea: The Most Wired Place on Earth” documented a camp for Internet addiction in teenagers, particularly to online games. The kids go ten days without the computer. Earlier the report showed tournaments in alien Starquest computer games. The government effort to offer high quality broadband to all of South Korea ten years ago seems to have had consequences (which could affect the debate on broadband extension in the United States). Some kids see their schoolwork deteriorate and have tinnitus or hearing problems. The report tended to convey the impression that South Korea has a high standard of living, yet under the shadow of North Korea.

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