Wednesday, 27 April 2011
First Stop The Bribery
Approximately 500 political prisoners - many high profile Taliban fighters - escaped from Kandahar high security prison during Sunday night and early Monday morning. To date only 65 have been recaptured and two have been killed in a gun fight.
We are told these barefooted men crawled to freedom down a 1,000ft tunnel, which originated in a nearby safe house. Why would nearly 500 men leave their footwear behind?
Regardless of the escape details, it was a well planned project which could have only succeeded with 'inside' help.
Karzai's office called the breakout a 'disaster' ahead of the summer fighting months and as NATO and the US begin preparing for a gradual withdrawal. The justice minister Habibullah Ghaleb, in a letter to Karzai, laid much of the blame for the mass breakout from Kandahar's Sarposa jail on failings by Afghan security forces and foreign troops. I can find no evidence that the prison was staffed by foreign troops so Mr Ghaleb's letter would appear to be a 'nothing to do with me' missive.
General Ghulam Dastgir, the governor of the jail, said many of the prisoners still on the run had likely fled to safe havens in Pakistan. That's the same Pakistan which recently received an extra £650m from David Cameron, courtesy of UK taxpayers, for 'educational' projects.
Whether these men are in Pakistan or the Afghan mountains matters little, the fact they are at large matters a great deal but our media are so engrossed with hyping up a wedding and giving up front page space to a fool who admits his legal actions were 'excessive', that most have ignored the seriousness of this incident.
We have lost 364 of our military in the war against the Taliban and poured £billions of taxpayers' money into the Afghan government's coffers in an attempt to change their corrupt culture. Is it any wonder their government is in chaos when we're guilty of such bribery?
With around 400 insurgents now roaming free and with little hope of their recapture, our troops are more at risk than ever, yet our politicians are reluctant to make any statement about the severity of the situation.
This security breach comes just months before the start of a transfer of responsibilities from foreign to Afghan forces. The coalition should insist the transfers should be speeded up and also make arrangements for our troops' withdrawal to be accelerated. If David Cameron had any backbone he would halt the flow of cash to Karzai's government.
Update: Thanks to my eagle-eyed reader JRB, recent reports say an Afghan military officer opened fire on foreign troops today after an argument at Kabul airport. The Taliban are claiming responsibility.