News / Asia

    Former Hostage: Afghan Taliban and Pakistani Taliban Work 'Seamlessly Together'

    David Rohde, a New York Times journalist who was kidnapped in Afghanistan and held captive there and in Pakistan for seven months ending in June 2009, described his ordeal to an audience at the Newseum in Washington Friday.  His experiences with the Afghan Taliban and Pakistani Taliban give insight into the complications and threats in the region.

    It was nearly two years ago, in November 2008, that journalist David Rohde was kidnapped outside Kabul, Afghanistan, along with an Afghan reporter and their driver.

    Taliban captors held him hostage for seven months, until June of last year, when he and his Afghan colleague managed to flee from a compound in Pakistan's North Waziristan region. Their driver did not escape.

    Rohde, who was kidnapped in Afghanistan but ultimately held in Pakistan, told the crowd assembled at the Newseum that the lines between the Afghan Taliban and Pakistani Taliban are not as clear cut in the border mountains as they are in strategic planning sessions in world capitals. "When I was in my captivity, I saw that the two groups worked seamlessly together.  This differentiation between Afghan and Pakistani Taliban is really a false one.  We were held in Pakistani Taliban areas and then Afghan Taliban areas, and the cooperation was seamless," he said.

    But the U.S. envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke sees it differently.  At that same event, moments after Rohde left the dais, Holbrooke took the stage along with ABC News journalist Christiane Amanpour.  U.S. envoy Holbrooke emphasized that the various threats in Afghanistan and Pakistan cannot be lumped together.  

    "It's all these different groups.  The Afghan Taliban.  The Pakistan Taliban.  Al-Qaida, with whom you cannot negotiate.  The [Pakistan-based terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba] LET whose goal is to provoke conflict between India and Pakistan. And they're all mashed around in this area David [Rohde] was talking about. They overlap, but they have different goals, so it's a uniquely complicated problem," he said.   

    The United States has repeatedly pressed Pakistan to do more to battle the Taliban and other insurgents within its borders, and the U.S. military has commended Pakistani efforts to do so.  Pentagon officials have said Pakistan managed to put more pressure on the Taliban this year than the terror group has experienced in the past several years.

    Rohde says this is in part because Islamabad differentiates between the Pakistani Taliban and the Afghan Taliban.  The journalist says that the Pakistani Army has cracked down on the Pakistani Taliban because Islamabad (Central government) views the group as an enemy of the state.  Rohde says it appears to him that the Pakistani Army sees Afghan Taliban fighters as proxies it can use against India.   

    "Unfortunately, I'm sitting here today speaking with you not because I was rescued by the Pakistani Army.  Instead, I'm here because our Afghan Taliban captors felt so little threat from the Pakistani Army that they got sloppy.  The last house they held us captive in was only three-tenths of a mile [half a kilometer] from the one Pakistani military base in [North Waziristan's main town of] Miran Shah," he said.

    Some analysts accuse Pakistan's main spy agency, the ISI, of helping the Taliban in Afghanistan while agreeing to the crackdown on the group inside Pakistan.

    Also Friday, in a speech at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (Democrat-Michigan), stressed that Pakistan needs to do more.  "In Pakistan, which is inextricably linked to Afghanistan, officials have taken some steps to rein in extremist groups that threaten stability in Pakistan, but they have so far failed to take the steps needed to address major threats to Afghanistan from within Pakistan," he said.

    As for Rohde, in June of last year, he and his Afghan colleague scaled a wall while their guard slept, and they walked to the Pakistani army base, fearing that they would be turned back over to the Taliban.  But, Rohde said, the young Pakistani captain they met was not a Taliban sympathizer.   

    Afghanistan's Taliban has denied any involvement in Rohde's abduction.

    Rohde also spoke of U.S. efforts to counter terror threats in the border region.  He said drones hovered overhead during most days of his captivity and that the Taliban feared drone strikes.  Rhode said the chatter among the guards who held him captive indicated that drone strikes were generally accurate, and that while there were civilian casualties, militants - often foreign ones - were killed in each of the strikes during his captivity.

    Rohde also said the Taliban regularly exaggerate civilian casualties in an effort to gain recruits.

    You May Like

    Post-White House, Obamas to Rent Washington Mansion

    Nine-bedroom home is 3 kilometers from Oval Office, near capital's Embassy Row; rent estimated at around $22,000 a month

    Red Planet? Not so much!

    New research suggest that Mars is in a warm period between cyclical ice ages, and that during Ice Age Maximum over 500,000 years ago, the red planet was decidedly ice, and much whiter to the naked eye.

    Taj Mahal Battles New Threat from Insects

    Swarms of insects are proliferating in the heavily contaminated waters of the Yamuna River, which flows behind the 17th century monument

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora