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 One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years 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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs