India-Pakistan: Taliban Getting Ground Down


October 16, 2008:  In Pakistan, the new government has united in its rather violent war against the Taliban and al Qaeda. The continued American UAV missile strikes inside Pakistan stoke public anger against the U.S., but this is tempered by the fact that the Americans are taking out the very people who are trying to overthrow the Pakistani government and establish a religious dictatorship. There are Islamic conservatives throughout Pakistan who favor this, but the use of terror has backfired, and now the Islamic radicals face a hostile majority. Most Islamic conservatives (about a third of the population) are not willing to die for the cause, and the number that are, find themselves very outnumbered, and out gunned, by the police and army.

There is some support for the Taliban and al Qaeda in the cities, and posters and graffiti to that effect are showing up in some neighborhoods. But there has not been much violence, and the pro-Taliban activists are staying out of sight. For the Taliban supporters in the cities, the news is not good. Taliban casualties in Bajaur, Swat and Waziristan are running at over a thousand a week, and there's no end in sight to the government offensive. With Winter coming on, the pro-Taliban tribes are facing hard times. If the tribesmen send their families away from the fighting, the cold and low food supplies will cause much suffering. But the alternative is surrender, and getting disarmed, and maybe even arrested. Fewer tribes are trying to remain neutral, and are assembling their tribal militias and going after neighboring, pro-Taliban, tribes. This weakens the Taliban in their fight against the government, as the tribesmen must defend their homes and families first. Al Qaeda does not have much in numbers, even though the Internet is full of calls for all al Qaeda fans to head for Pakistan and join the fight. Police are detecting more foreigners trying to get to the tribal areas, and either turning them back, or arresting them. Al Qaeda has set up a smuggling operation, to get known foreign volunteers into the tribal areas. But the numbers here are not large, perhaps a few hundred. However, these are the guys willing to carry out the suicide attacks. Thus al Qaeda is able to do its part, carrying out a few suicide bomb attacks a week. At this level, the attacks antagonize more than terrorize. But al Qaeda has not got the resources to launch a larger suicide attack campaign.

Nearly all the fighting is taking place in the tribal areas along the Afghan border. The army is making the most of its air power advantage, and its armed helicopters are particularly effective at hunting down and killing the tribal rebels. This makes it very dangerous for the Taliban and al Qaeda to use the roads during daylight, thus making the army much more mobile than the enemy. It's also suspected that the Americans are sharing their aerial reconnaissance of the area (using UAVs, aircraft and satellites) with the Pakistani army, another reason why the government complains about the American UAVs, but does nothing.

Some 3,000 Indian police and troops have arrested hundreds of  people in Orissa, where religious violence in this eastern Indian city has left dozens dead, and over 20,000 people (mainly Christians) chased from their homes by Hindu radicals. The army has been ordered in and told to shoot Hindu rioters and looters, and do whatever it takes to stop the violence. This has not completely shut down the murderous Hindu mobs. The government has promised to shut down the anti-Christian groups, and will do so, eventually. But despite Maoists admitting it was they (and not Christians) who killed a local Hindu leader two months ago, the violence continues. That's because many Hindu radicals see the both the Christians and atheist Maoists as foreign and "un-Indian" influences that must be destroyed. But both the Christians and Maoists bring hope to people at the bottom of the Hindu society, and that makes some radical Hindu politicians very angry.

October 14, 2008: In eastern India, police arrested four Maoist rebels and seized large cache of weapons and bomb making materials.

October 12, 2008: NATO forces fired on Taliban mortar crews just across the border in Waziristan, Pakistan, killing five men. U.S. UAVs continue finding and killing key al Qaeda and Taliban leaders inside Pakistan, especially Waziristan.  

October 11, 2008: In Pakistan, the Taliban are using kidnapping, murder and suicide bombings against the leadership of tribes, in an effort to terrorize the tribes into not joining the army in attacking the Taliban. Recent examples include the beheading of four tribal elders who refused to oppose attacking the Taliban, and a car bomb attack on a meeting of Alizai tribal elders (who were planning an attack on the Taliban along the Afghan border), while killed 30 and wounded a hundred.


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