India-Pakistan: Let Us All Lie Together


April 10,2008: In the Pakistani tribal areas, the government effort to gain control, and shut down Islamic terrorist (Taliban and al Qaeda) activity has stopped. The tribal areas have never been controlled by the Pakistani government (or the British colonial government before them). The tribes were allowed to run their own affairs, as long as they did not raid outside their territory. That agreement was violated over the last few years, when the Islamic terrorists make attacks against Pakistani officials all over the country. The government has made several of the traditional "punitive raids" since September 11, 2001, but none of these took control of all the thousands of fortified tribal compounds that dot the border zone. The army uses thousands of local policemen in these operations, which is a problem because the cops are often related to the rebellious tribesmen. About fifteen percent of army units are men from the tribal areas. To further complicate matters, there has been, over the last decade, a major change taking place in how the tribes run themselves. The centuries old system of letting tribal elders settle disputes and make decisions, is being overthrown, often violently, by a system based on armed entrepreneurs who are, in effect, gangsters. There have long been entrepreneurial warlords up in the hills, but the custom is more widespread this time around, and often working with Islamic terrorist organizations. In the last six years, nearly 300 tribal elders have been killed by the gangster or Islamic radical thugs, and many more elders have shut up, or fled to the cities. The tribal areas have become pretty wild, and the government wishes it would all just go away. But it won't, and neither will the Americans and Europeans just across the border in Afghanistan, worried about the new al Qaeda camps that are training terrorists for attacks in the West. The new Pakistani government says it will negotiate deals with the tribes that will shut down terrorist activity. Few in Pakistan, or the West, believe that will work. But for the moment, the diplomats insist that everyone go through the motions of believing that it will. The only alternative is threatening the new Pakistani government with, what, if they don't shut down the lawlessness in the tribal areas.

In India, Maoist violence in eastern India is causing several dozen casualties a week. Some of it is Maoists fighting leftist rivals, but mostly it is resisting police efforts to shut down Maoist camps in remote areas.

April 9, 2008: In southwest Pakistan, police arrested four Turks who, according to material found with them (ammo, laptop full of terrorist documents) belonged to al Qaeda. The four had false identity cards, and were trying to pass as Afghans. Al Qaeda has training camps in villages along the Afghan border, in tribal areas where the army and police do not venture. Foreigners fly into Pakistan, then make their way to these camps, and are often caught by the police.

April 8, 2008: In the Pakistani city of Karachi, political violence (between fans and does of president Musharraf), left eight dead and nearly fifty injured.

April 5, 2008: In southwest Pakistan, along the Iranian border, police clashed with Sunni Islamic militants, killing three, while losing two police.

April 4, 2008: In Indian Kashmir, police have killed or arrested seven leaders (including the chief spokesman) of the largest Islamic terrorist organization (Hizbul Mujahideen). Indian counter-terrorism efforts have shut down most Islamic terrorist activity in Kashmir, over the past few years.


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