India-Pakistan: What's Wrong With This Picture?


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December 28, 2007: Al Qaeda is shifting resources from Iraq (where terrorist leaders openly admit defeat) to Pakistan, where they don't have to face Western troops. But the Pakistani government has long experience with Islamic radicals. After all, it was one of Pakistan's military governments that encouraged Islamic militants (as a way to deal with corruption) three decades ago. What a mistake that was, and the Pakistani government is still grappling with it. Killing a presidential election candidate, and former prime minister, like Benazir Bhutto, makes a big splash in the media, and excites Islamic radicals, but hurts them in the long run. Like the mosque bombing last week, the violence against women (especially popular female politicians like Bhutto) turns more people against the Islamic radicals. Since the government began its crackdown on Islamic militants last July, 800 people have died, half of them in suicide bombing attacks. The Islamic militants don't have the armed strength to do much else. Their most potent, if often counter-productive, weapon, is the suicide bomber. Even then, the terrorists have only been able to carry out six suicide bombings in the last two weeks. Police and army counter-terror efforts are destroying terrorist bases and capturing key personnel. Attacks on mosques and female politicians only makes more civilians willing to inform on the terrorists. The generals want to go ahead with the January elections, because they believe their guy, Musharraf has the best chance to win. Civilian politicians would rather delay the elections, so they can organize behind a civilian candidate who might win. The Islamic radicals have always been a violent minority, and now they are following the classic pattern of letting that violence turn them into an even smaller minority.

December 27, 2007: Former prime minister, and current presidential candidate Benazir Bhutto was killed by a suicide bomber. Bhutto had vowed to be even tougher on Islamic radicals, and this had made her the target of three assassination attempts in the last three months. Like many other prominent politicians, Bhutto was from a very wealthy family. Her father, who was also prime minister in the 1970s, was deposed by the military, and then hung for corrupt acts. The general who ordered that, was also responsible to backing Islamic extremism as a "solution" for Pakistan's problems. Thus you can see why the Islamic militants feared Bhutto so much. For that same reason, many of Bhutto's followers will blame the government, again run by the army, for Bhutto's death.

December 26, 2007: Hindu extremists in eastern India attacked 14 Christian churches. The Hindus are angry with the Christians converting lower caste Hindus. This has long been a problem, with lower caste Hindus (who are usually poor and discriminated against because of the caste system) seeking better opportunities by converting to Islam or Christianity.

December 25, 2007: In Pakistan's Swat valley, security forces continue to round up Islamic militants and destroy weapons and bomb making workshops.

December 21, 2007: In northwest Pakistan, a suicide bomber tried to kill a government counter-terrorism official inside a mosque. The official survived, but over 50 other worshippers were killed.


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