India-Pakistan: For A Few Billion Dollars More


February 1, 2008: The U.S. and Britain are going to try and buy the loyalty of the restive tribesmen of northwest Pakistan. Over the next five years, about half a billion dollars a year will be spent there on security (for the local frontier guard units) and infrastructure (roads, bridges and such). The big problem will be preventing local Pakistani officials from stealing most of the money before it gets to its intended recipients. This has thwarted smaller reconstruction efforts in the past.

January 31, 2008: In southwest Pakistan, a bomb went off, wounding five people. Tribal (Baluchi) rebels have, for years, been running a low level war against the government.

January 30, 2008: In the Pakistani port of Karachi, police captured a senior Taliban leader, Qasim Toori, who was planning terror attacks against the government.

January 28, 2008: In Pakistan's North Waziristan area, a gang of tribesman attempted to kidnap a government official. The police caught on, and a gun battle and chase ensued. The kidnappers ran into a primary school, and took many of the students and teachers hostage. The criminals demanded safe passage back to their tribal territory, or the kids would die. The cops let the gunmen surrender their weapons, and flee into the hills. Sometimes these kidnappings are by pro-Taliban tribesmen, sometimes just guys looking for a quick rupee, or some leverage to get a kinsman out of jail.

Nearby, a missile, apparently a Hellfire from a U.S. Predator UAV, struck a building where a group of al Qaeda and Taliban leaders were meeting. Apparently, increased U.S. and Pakistani efforts to make tribesmen aware of large rewards available for information on terrorist movements, has worked. Either that, or the bad guys got sloppy with their electronic communications. Among the dead terrorist leaders was Abu Laith al Libi, who has long been sought because of his role in carrying out terror attacks. Al Libi was number five or six in the al Qaeda global hierarchy.

January 27, 2008: In northwest Pakistan, troops cleared tribal rebels from a key road, and a tunnel through a mountain, to enable an offensive against the pro-Taliban tribesmen. The army is playing divide and conquer. There are truces with some tribes in North Waziristan have a ceasefire, while the army moved on tribes in South Waziristan. The tribes are on the defensive now, because the army has an easier time moving and fighting. The military has air power, and the tribes do not. This makes a big difference.


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