In Pakistan, people
are angrier over a flour shortage than they are over Islamic terrorism and
politics. The government controls the price of flour, and the price is too low
(compared to prices in Afghanistan and India). As a result, many middlemen are
selling their flour to smugglers who get the flour across the border and sell
it for a higher price. The government has increased the price of flour from
about nine cents a pound to 18 cents in the last two months, but that has not
entirely stopped the diversion of subsidized flour.
In eastern India, police continue their
aggressive patrols in areas controlled, or at least influenced, by the presence
of armed Maoist rebels.
January 17, 2008: In Pakistan, Mehsud
tribesmen abandoned a fort, near the town of Sararogha, in South Waziristan,
that they had captured a few days earlier. They feared approaching army
reinforcements would trap them. Mehsud tribal leader Baitullah Mehsud is
believed to behind the assassination of presidential candidate Benazir Bhutto. Baitullah
Mehsud also provides sanctuary for Taliban and al Qaeda operatives. Baitullah
Mehsud only leads one portion of the Mehsud tribe. The government has avoided
attacking Baitullah Mehsud's men, because that could cause many, currently
neutral, Mehsud tribesmen to rebel against the government. This could cause
several thousand armed tribesmen to take on the army. The tribesmen would lose,
but that would merely make the families, of the dead tribal warriors, long-term
(generations) foes of the government. That's not a good long term strategy in
this part of the world, where such blood feuds are common.
Meanwhile, Sunni Islamic terrorists
bombed a Shia mosque in Pakistan, killing at least ten people. This war between
Sunni and Shia extremists has been going on for decades. The Sunni terrorists
ally themselves with al Qaeda and the Kashmir terrorists, because all of them
are Sunni and believe Shia Moslems are heretics who are not true Moslems and
must be killed.
For the second time in five weeks,
someone attacked an aircraft factory in southern Pakistan. This time four
rockets were fired into the complex. No one was injured. Last month was a
suicide bomber, who killed seven people.
Three explosions were reported in
Indian Kashmir, but there were no injuries. Apparently these were terrorists
tossing hand grenades, and missing. Further south, in Indian Punjab, police
arrested six Islamic terrorists, and seized large quantities of bomb making
January 16, 2008: A second Pakistani
army border fort in South Waziristan was abandoned, when Mehsud tribesmen
threatened to kill the garrison of about 40 paramilitary Frontier Constabulary.
The army will now have to send in regular army troops to confront the
January 15, 2008: Several hundred pro-Taliban tribesmen attacked
a Pakistani army border fort, near the town of Sararogha, in South Waziristan.
Several dozen tribesmen were killed or wounded, but they captured the fort.
Fifteen of the 42 troops in the fort escaped, while seven were killed and
twenty captured. The fort's garrison consisted of local tribesmen working for
the Frontier Constabulary. The fort was one of four in the territory of the Pushtun
Mehsud tribe, led by a pro-Taliban chief. The army has 100,000 troops on the
Afghan border, but only a few thousand in the Mehsud territory.
January 14, 2008: In the Pakistani port
city of Karachi, Islamic terrorists set off a bomb outside a factory, killing
at least ten, and wounding over 50.
January 13, 2008: In the Pakistani
border area (North Waziristan), the government has negotiated another deal with
tribal elders, to allow tribal militia to replace government troops at the many
check points in the area. In the past, the tribal militias have been largely unable
to deal with the Islamic terrorist groups. This is changing, but not always
quickly enough to make these peace deals work.
January 12, 2008: Pakistan's strategy
of going after foreign Islamic terrorists (al Qaeda), while leaving most
Pakistani ones alone, is not working. This strategy was developed because many
of the domestic Islamic terrorists are popular, mainly as a result of two
decades of Islamic terrorism directed at the Indian portion of Kashmir. This
border province has been claimed by both countries for over 60 years. India has
largely defeated the Islamic terrorist campaign, but it's politically unpopular
to admit that in Pakistan. Thus the Pakistani government continues to leave
alone Islamic terrorist organizations that are closely identified with operations
in Kashmir. But it's an open secret that these groups also participate in
terrorism against other targets inside Pakistan. Nice little set-up, and the
government is under a lot of pressure to terrorists hiding behind the Kashmir