Free Screening – Kabul Cops

Screening Monday 29th June, 2009
In the past four years, 5,000 young men have graduated from Afghanistan’s national police academy. After just 12 weeks of training, new recruits join a fledgling police force that’s been tasked not only with reducing ordinary crime but also fighting terrorism. There’s no doubt it’s a dangerous job.
Casualties among Afghan policemen outnumber casualties of Afghan soldiers fourfold. But in recent years there has been growing international interest in helping to train and reform the Afghan national police force as the guarantor of domestic law and order in the country.
Kabul Cops goes inside the Afghan Police force to tell the story of one officer, General Ali Shah Paktiawal. With a reputation for brutality and ruthless efficiency the General is one of the most controversial individual police officers across all Afghanistan.

At the time of filming Paktiawal headed Kabul’s criminal investigation department (CID).  Over a period of one week Filmmaker Nadene Ghouri goes on the beat with the General and his men. Paktiawal is revealed as both a fearsome and power-crazed man, yet also a truly dedicated officer who inspires devotion amongst his men.


He tells Ghouri there are two words not in his vocabulary. “One is problem. The other is fear.”


And his is not a job for the faint-hearted. Trying to keep a lid on crime in a city over-flowing with poverty, simmering tensions and increasing attacks from insurgents, it’s little wonder General Paktiawal’s methods are as brutal as the streets he patrols.


Twenty-four hours a day, Paktiawal is surrounded by his hand-picked bodyguards — men with nicknames like Bulldozer and Switch.  In unguarded moments caught on camera these men show Ghouri their daily routine and glimpses of their individual characters. Bulldozer boasts of his love of aggression: “Sometimes there are murderers we need to catch and we have to hit them in the face or round the back of the head.”

Many observers have described Kabul as the modern equivalent of the Wild West. If that’s so, then Paktiawal is truly the local sheriff.

Directed by One World Broadcast Journalist of the Year nominee, Nadene Ghouri


Produced by Nadene Ghouri and Sam Robertson

Camera and co-production by Ash Sweeting