Bowe Bergdahl's Father Seeks Pakistan's Help For Son's Return
BOISE, Idaho -- In a rare public appeal, the father of a U.S. soldier held captive in the Afghan war has sought the help of Pakistan's military in securing the release of Spc. Bowe Bergdahl.
Idaho resident Bob Bergdahl, in a video post on YouTube, directly addresses Pakistan Army Chief of Staff Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and Lieutenant-General Ahmad Shuja Pasha, the head of the country's intelligence service.
"Our family is counting on your professional integrity and your honor to secure the safe return of our son," he said. "And we thank you. Our family knows the high price that has been paid by your men in the army and the frontier corps. We give our condolences and thanks to the families of those who have fallen for Pakistan."
Bowe Bergdahl's parents have declined to say much publicly since he went missing from his base in southern Afghanistan on June 30, 2009. He is the only American soldier being held in the war.
While it's unclear where the 25-year-old soldier is being held, a video released on the Internet earlier this week shows him standing next to a senior official in the al-Qaida-linked Haqqani network in Paktika province in Afghanistan.
Wearing a long beard he began growing just after his son's capture, Bob Bergdahl speaks in English, Pashto and Arabic in the video, and he talks directly to members of the Haqqanis and their military commander, Mullah Sangeen.
"Strangely to some, we must also thank those who have cared for our son, for almost two years, Mullah Sangeen, the Haqqanis, and others who have played a role in sheltering the American prisoner," he said. "We know our son is a prisoner and at the same time a guest in your home."
Idaho National Guard spokesman Col. Tim Marsano, a liaison for the U.S. Army in Idaho, confirmed that Bob Bergdahl is the man in the video.
The U.S. considers the Haqqani group to be its greatest enemy in Afghanistan. U.S. Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, complained last month that Pakistan's military-run intelligence service maintains links to the Haqqani network. The Haqqanis are Afghan Taliban who control parts of eastern Afghanistan and have bases in Pakistan's North Waziristan frontier tribal region.
The video comes after Osama Bin Laden's death on Sunday in Pakistan. Bergdahl doesn't allude to any relationship between that and the timing of this video.
Speaking to his son, Bob Bergdahl offered reassurances that the family has done all it can – and that they want him home safe.
"We have been quiet in public, but we have not been quiet behind the scenes," Bob Bergdahl said. "Continue to be patient and kind to those around you. You are not forgotten."
In the video, Bergdahl appears to reference the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, or Taliban.
"We understand the rationale the Islamic Emirate has made through their videos," Bergdahl said. "No family in the United States understands the detainee issue like ours. Our son's safe return will only heighten public awareness of this. That said, our son is being exploited. It is past time for Bowe and the others to come home."
Bergdahl does not indicate to whom he's referring to with the phrase "the others." There are no other U.S. soldiers in captivity in Afghanistan.
Marsano said he was uncertain about the passage.
"I'm not privy to all the information Mr. Bergdahl has, nor did he ask me to expand upon his remarks," Marsano said.
A phone call to U.S. Central Command in Tampa, Fla., wasn't immediately returned.
The Bergdahls, who live in a home outside of Hailey near the tourist resort of Sun Valley, have largely shunned media attention following their son's capture. Last year, Bowe Bergdahl's mother, Jani Bergdahl, attended an elementary school ceremony after students wrote President Barack Obama urging him to help bring about the captive's release.