Hostage Release Points to Benefits of Continued US/Pakistani Cooperation By Jalaluddin Jamshidy
American Caitlan Coleman, her Canadian husband Joshua Boyle, and their three children were recently rescued after being held hostage by Afghan militants for five years. The rescue operation ordered by CIA and carried out by the Pakistani military occurred in a tribal area of the Kurram district near to the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Mrs. Coleman and Mr. Boyle were abducted from Wardak province of Afghanistan by a militant groups ties to the Haqqani Network, a faction of the Taliban. The Haqqani Network is allegedly responsible for the 2009 suicide attack that killed seven CIA officers and contractors. They are known for beating and torturing their prisoners.
White House Chief of Staff, Gen. Kelly described their condition while in captivity “living in a hole the last five years, and that’s the kind of people we are dealing with.” Mr. Boyle claimed the militants killed his “infant daughter” and raped his wife, an allegation denied by a Taliban spokesperson.
There are mixed reports of what brought the family to Afghanistan. Boyle recently stated they were trying to help villages in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan where aid and government workers have been unable to reach. The couple previously claimed to be on an extended hiking trip through Central Asia.
President Trump expressed his gratitude towards the Pakistani government’s effort, emphasizing “they are starting to respect the United States again”. Trump also expressed his optimism stating “we hope to see this type of cooperation and teamwork in helping secure the release of remaining hostages in our future joint counter terrorism operations.”
The Pakistani military did not clarify the nature of the operation, including whether they were rescued or freed through negotiation. The CIA director Mike Pompeo stated the family were kept in Pakistan for the duration of their captivity.
After drones spotted the family in a militant camp, the American Ambassador to Pakistan had warned the country to resolve the situation of the U.S. would take action. American officials “have long accused Pakistan of turning a blind eye or even assisting the Afghan Taliban and the allied Haqqani network, which held the family.”
As deadly attacks continue throughout Afghanistan, the U.S. must continue to encourage Pakistan to cooperate in releasing hostages and working with regional and international counterparts to help counterinsurgency efforts.
Jalaluddin Jamshidy is a government student at Utica College.