October 22, 2009

Escape from the Taliban

I've followed the five part series written by David S. Rohde on his hostage ordeal in the print version of the NY Times. But the last installment recounts how he and his Afghan colleague finally took matters into their own hands and escaped.

Several things of note. First, Rohde was captured inside Afghanistan last year but was immediately taken over the border into Pakistan. Which is telling, I think. The Taliban feel more secure in Pakistan than in Afghanistan.

Related to this first point is that during one of the many times the hostages were moved from city to city, Rohde's truck was stopped by Pakistani frontier guardsmen who, acting on higher orders as part of a previous peace deal, waved their vehicle through check points. Under the terms of the peace deal Taliban vehicles were not to be checked!

Second, Rohdes, unlike other journalists, had no sympathy for his Taliban captors. Nine months of captivity has only led him to despise the Taliban and the Pakistanis who enable them.

Last, when Rohdes does escape he flees, literally, down the street. The town he is last held in is both controlled by the Taliban -- describing it as a regional Taliban capital -- but is also garrisoned by the Pakistani Army. It is to this Pakistani army base only blocks away from the home he is being held in that he runs, not knowing if he'll be turned back over to the Taliban or helped.

The good news is that the Pakistani Army helped him. The bad news is that the Pakistani Army apparently lets the Taliban do anything they want to do in the area. So long as they don't attack the Army, they are free to do whatever they wish.

Read the final installment of Rhode's account here. Read all the way through, and then be sure to click on the epilogue where Rohde vehemently denies that any ransom was paid or prisoners exchanged for his release.

By Rusty Shackleford, Ph.D. at 01:47 PM | Comments |