According to a new report by the State Department, the Afghan Taliban and its Haqqani Network are still “operating in Pakistan-based safe havens and threatening U.S. and Afghan forces in Afghanistan.” Pakistan has assisted the US in counterterrorism operations against al Qaeda. However, by refusing to move against the Taliban, including the Haqqanis, Pakistan is harboring al Qaeda’s most important allies in the region.
The Pakistani and American governments announced today that Caitlan Coleman and Joshua Boyle, along with their three children, have been released from the Taliban’s custody. The couple was abducted in Afghanistan in 2012.
The Taliban released a statement attributed to its emir, Hibatullah Akhundzada, who says that “peace” is only possible if the “occupation” is ended. The statement is entirely self-serving and contains absurd claims. For example, Akhundzada writes that the Taliban wants a “free, independent and progressive Afghanistan,” which is completely inconsistent with the group’s ideology and history.
The State Department’s newly released Country Reports on Terrorism says that Pakistan “did not take substantial action against the Afghan Taliban,” including the Haqqani Network, in 2016. The Taliban’s leadership has long had a presence in Pakistan.
The Taliban has issued a second statement denying any responsibility for the May 31 bombing in Kabul. Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security (NDS) has accused the Haqqani Network and Pakistan of orchestrating the attack. The Taliban claims the NDS is lying and defends the Haqqanis, once again affirming their key role in the organization.