Jail Break and Raid Show Region Not Ready For US Withdrawal
On April 25, 500 prisoners, many of them Taliban, escaped from an Afghan jail via tunnel. The tunnel was dug using tools stolen from a maintenance shed, was reinforced with metal bars from the same place and was strong and deep enough to run under the prison wall and a highway.
On Sunday, Osama bin Laden was killed by Navy Seals in Pakistan. He was living in a larger, well supplied compound with his family and some supporters located not too far from the capital and only a mile or so from the Pakistan Military Academy. It is possible that he had been living there since 2006. Yet, the Pakistani’s apparently had no idea he was there.
With the US planning to withdraw from Afghanistan in 2014, these two cases illustrate the continued security threat in the region and how the region is not yet safe. While the media has begun to question whether the death of bin Laden has signaled the end of the operations in Afghanistan, since the goal was to fight Al Qaeda. Now that most Al Qaeda fighters have been expelled from the country and its leader killed shouldn’t the US begin withdrawing troops now? I believe that this shows a lack of critical thinking. Under the Taliban, Al Qaeda was able to use Afghanistan as a safe haven. The invasion was not only meant to remove Al Qaeda and get bin Laden, but to secure the area so that it does not remain a safe haven for terrorist networks.
While Afghans claim that the bin Laden raid has proved that Al Qaeda is now operating from Pakistan, the recent jail break brings great doubt on the Afghan government’s ability to keep them there and to keep a Taliban insurgency at bay. It is not clear whether the Taliban had inside help or whether the Taliban prisoners should be believed and the guards were incompetent (they claim that the guards got high and went to sleep every night). Either way, Afghan forces still need more training in order to prevent another civil war after the Americans withdraw. A civil war would bring complete instability, again, to the region. Al Qaeda, whether it works with the Taliban or not, would be able to freely move weapons and supplies through Afghanistan.
It seems hard to believe that Pakistani ISI had no idea bin Laden was living in Abbhotobad. The question now is how high up did the Pakistani/Al Qaeda collusion go. The US, using the presence of bin Laden as leverage, should bring more pressure on Pakistan to reform, and to publicly allow more drone attacks. US troops cannot leave the region when we know that Al Qaeda is using it as base, and with help from the Pakistani government, at whatever level. Pressure should be put on Pakistan to not only conduct operations in Waziristan and other parts of the countries, but to start producing the capture of high level figures. It is now up to the Pakistani government to prove that they are not working with Al Qaeda and other terrorist networks.