Film Review: Armed with Faith

Since 9/11, the US and most of the Western world have waged a ‘War on Terror’ across much of the Middle East. This has taken form as wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Libya, or in tactical and drone strikes across a swathe of nations. Whilst we’ve seen a growing number of terror attacks in the European Union, our enemies tend to strike closer to home. Whether this is Daesh trying to build a Muslim State or terror attacks in Turkey, Iraq, Afghanistan or Pakistan.

In Asad Faruqi and Geeta Gandbhir’s Armed with Faith, they focus on the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Bomb Disposal Unit (KPK BDU). Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is a province in the north-west region of Pakistan. Bordering the tribal areas populated by the poverty-stricken Pashtuns, and Afghanistan, to the west, the region is the most dangerous in the country. Due to the nation’s alliance with the US, they’re a prime target for terrorism. Especially from the Pakistani Taliban.

Armed with Faith follows three men in the bomb disposal unit. Set against a backdrop of increasing attacks, low wages, dwindling resources and economic migration, they face an almost impossible task. A vastly underfunded and under-staffed squad, they rely on benefactors for their equipment. We follow a commander trying to recruit more men, but more unsettlingly, two bomb disposal experts who dedicate their lives to keeping others safe, without necessarily having the correct equipment. Armed with Faith is a powerful tale of personal sacrifice for the greater good. A reminder that those who cause conflict, should do more to help the victims.

The World Premiere of Armed with Faith takes place at Sheffield Doc/Fest on 12 June.

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