India-Pakistan: The Winter Of Discontent


December 6, 2011: Pakistan continues to insist it was the victim in a November 26th incident where Pakistani troops fired  across the border at Afghan and American troops, and an American airstrike response that killed 24 Pakistani troops. The Pakistani military is waging a major media campaign to portray itself as a victim of American aggression. For decades the Pakistani military has been pushing the idea that the U.S. is the enemy, even though Pakistan has gladly taken billions in American aid in the last decade. This border incident also gives the Pakistani generals another excuse to avoid shutting down (as the Americans keep demanding) one of the last two terrorist sanctuaries in the tribal territories; North Waziristan. This is what the Haqqani Network uses for their main base. The other sanctuary is in and around Quetta, the largest city in Baluchistan (southwest), and there Pakistan will not even let American UAVs operate. Quetta is where the Afghan Taliban leadership has been sheltered for the last decade and is right across the Afghan border from the Taliban heartland in Kandahar and Helmand provinces. Since the Taliban and other terror groups have not made terrorist attacks in Baluchistan, there has been an unofficial truce with the Pakistani government. That seems unlikely to change. The U.S. sees the Pakistani military as determined to maintain good relations with Islamic terrorists, and use incidents like this to extort more aid money out of the United States. Inside Pakistan, there is growing demand for an end to the Islamic terrorism, and, to a lesser extent, holding the military responsible for corruption and economic problems.

In the last five years, over a thousand Islamic terrorists have been killed in the Pakistani tribal territories by American UAVs. Most of those were killed in the last three years and in the last year the attacks were concentrated in North Waziristan, where terrorists were safe from Pakistani attacks. The Pakistanis do see the local Taliban as a threat, as these groups have tried to establish religious dictatorships throughout the northwest (Pushtun) tribal territories. For the last three years, the Pakistani Taliban (which is actually a coalition of religious warlords who share an Islamic radical outlook) has suffered continuous attack by Pakistani troops (except in North Waziristan) and American UAVs. The Taliban leadership has been greatly depleted, and the replacements are often much less capable than the originals. The Pakistani Taliban is in disarray and demanding (from the Pakistan government) and end to the UAV attacks. Pakistani military operations in the tribal territories have made it difficult for the Taliban to earn money (via extortion, smuggling or outright theft). The heavy damage to the Pakistani Taliban has hurt the Afghan Taliban. But the Afghan Taliban has access to the huge drug profits of the drug gangs. The opium and heroin trade pays well for industrial chemicals from Pakistan, and to bribe Pakistani security forces to get drugs to Karachi and onto ships and aircraft. The Taliban bribe heavily to import fertilizer (which they use to make explosives for bombs). The Pakistani generals and politicians won't talk about this black economy created by the Afghan heroin trade. It is illegal, very profitable, and unpopular with most Pakistanis. That's because a lot of the opium from Afghanistan stays in Pakistan, to supply millions of Pakistani addicts. These addicts are a major social problem in Pakistan, and the corruption that lets the vital drug refining chemicals into Afghanistan, and the drugs out is no secret, and yet another reason why Pakistanis support Islamic radicals (who promise to reduce corruption.) Alas, when Islamic radicals gained power in some tribal areas, the corruption dipped for a bit, and then returned.

Nationwide, Pakistan continues to suffer 5-6 times as many deaths from terrorists and rebels as does India (with six times the population.) In other words, adjusting for population, Pakistan is 30 times as violent as India, at least when it comes to terrorist and rebel caused deaths. Such deaths in Pakistan are running at the rate of 7,000 a year. In the last three years, Pakistan claims to have suffered 35,000 terrorist related deaths, mostly in their northwest tribal territories. Relations between Pakistan continue to be frosty because Pakistan will not seriously go after Pakistan-based terror groups that have been making attacks inside India.

In Karachi, Pakistan, a bomb went off on a bridge, wounding four civilians. It's not known who was responsible, but police and paramilitary forces are still chasing after armed political militias who have killed over a thousand people in the city this year.

In the Pakistani tribal territories, it's the cold weather season and fighting is much reduced as it becomes more difficult to travel and live outdoors.

In tropical India, the anti-Maoist campaign continues. The search for Maoist camps keeps the Maoists on the run, and has led to more Maoist fighters deserting, and more of the leaders surrendering. But the security forces are causing problems by coming into contact with rural people, and causing more crime (robbery, assault, rape).

December 4, 2011:  In eastern India (Jharkhand) Maoists blew up two sections of railroad track. Elsewhere in the same area a Maoist attack on a police convoy left eight police and two civilians dead. The Maoists are making revenge attacks for the police killing a senior Maoist leader last month.

December 2, 2011: In northwest Pakistan (across from Afghanistan's Nuristan province) Pakistani troops clashed with Afghan gunmen just across the border. Seven Afghans were killed and five Pakistani troops wounded in the clash.

December 1, 2011: Al Qaeda in Pakistan announced they were holding an American aid worker (Warren Weinstein) kidnapped in Pakistan last August. Al Qaeda is demanding the release of thousands of prisoners and a halt to bombing Islamic terrorism. No deal here, the U.S. never makes trades like this and it's unclear if the captive is still alive.

November 30, 2011:  U.S. legislators have ordered a reduction in military aid for Pakistan, in response to Pakistani posturing over the November 26th incident on the Afghan border.

November 29, 2011: Pakistan will halt showing BBC News because of perceived "anti-Pakistan" reporting. The BBC News does not back the paranoia and anti-West sentiment so popular in Pakistani media. This is part of a military effort to eliminate media outlets that disagree with the military.



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