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

Video Iran Nuclear Deal Becomes US Campaign Issue

Voters in three crucial battleground states - Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania - overwhelmingly oppose nuclear deal with Iran More

Al-Qaida's Syria Affiliate Reemerges

Jabhat al-Nusra has rebounded, increasingly casting itself as a critical player in battle for Syria’s future More

Lessons Learned From Katrina, 10 Years Later

FEMA chief Craig Fugate says key changes include better preparation, improved coordination among state, federal assistance agencies More

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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs