India-Pakistan: The Big Payday


April 12, 2012: Pakistani politics continues to be dominated by politicians and parties that support Islamic radicals. While in 2009, 53 percent of Pakistanis supported attacks on Islamic terror groups, that has since declined to under 40 percent. The reason is the security forces have shut down most Islamic terror operations in Punjab and Sind (where 85 percent of Pakistanis live). There is still a lot of terrorist violence, but it's almost all in the tribal areas along the Afghan border. That is considered alien territory to most Pakistanis, and most politicians and media continue to push Islamic radicalism and hatred of non-Moslem nations. The army continues to claim that India is a threat and that the military must have more money to deal with this (and pay the generous pensions granted to military officers).

In Pakistan's most northern tribal territories (Gilgit-Baltistan), violence by Islamic radicals, especially against Shia Moslems and locals who oppose the Pakistani government in general, has led to over a hundred people killed or wounded so far this year. The army has imposed strict travel controls to try and contain the violence. In the last few days over a hundred foreign tourists had to be evacuated by air. This area is claimed by India as part of the original Kashmir.  

The Pakistani army continues to hunt down and battle Islamic terror groups in the tribal territories. Although North Waziristan is a sanctuary for Islamic radicals (mainly the Taliban), many Islamic radicals that are not affiliated with the Taliban continue to fight to establish control over parts of the tribal territories. So the army, police, and tribal militias fight back. This violence leaves a hundred or more people dead each week in the tribal territories. So far this year these operations have sent over 100,000 civilians fleeing their homes to escape the violence.  

Pakistan is willing to reopen its Afghan border to NATO truck traffic if a large ($1,000-1,500 per truck) bribe is paid. Apparently the size of the bribe is calculated to be a bit below the additional cost of moving in goods via Central Asian railroads. As NATO forces depart Afghanistan in 2014, Pakistan does not want to miss out on a one-time opportunity to make some money from the heavy traffic generated by NATO forces shipping their equipment home. Pakistani officials see this as a big payday for themselves as little of that money (which could be north of $200 million) will go to anything like public welfare. Instead, the cash will go to politicians and other government officials. That is not unusual in Pakistan, it's the norm.

Political and religious violence in Karachi, Pakistan's largest and wealthiest city, have killed over 300 so far this year. While bad, the violence is down compared to last year, when over 1,700 died. The unrest in Karachi has cost the economy billions of dollars last year and some of those losses continue this year.

April 11, 2012: In eastern India (Chhattisgarh) Moslem gunmen opened fire on a police camp, killing two civilian employees.

April 8, 2012:  In Pakistan's tribal territories (Orakzai) army gunships attacked a Islamic terrorist camp, killing 14 gunmen.

April 7, 2012: A Pakistani army camp on the Kashmir border with India was hit with an avalanche, killing 124 soldiers and 11 civilian contractors. The camp, like those of the Indians just across the border, is at an altitude of 6,500 meters (20,000 feet) or higher. These are the highest military camps on the planet, the result of not precisely demarcating the border on the 75 kilometer portion of the Kashmir border formed by the 6,500-7,000 meter high Siachen glacier. The reason for not precisely marking that part of the border was the inaccessibility of those 75 kilometers of ice and thin air. This bizarre situation all began in the late 1970s, when Pakistan began a campaign of Islamic terror attacks on Indian Kashmir. In response, India moved more police and troops to Kashmir and in 1984, moved troops onto the Siachen glacier to block Pakistani use of the area and to prevent Islamic terrorists from sneaking into Indian Kashmir. No terrorists appear to have ever used the glacier route into Indian territory but with the high levels of terrorist violence in Indian Kashmir, desperate measures seemed reasonable. Pakistan responded to the Indian action by moving troops up onto the glacier as well. Since then, over a thousand soldiers have died and even more been injured, while serving in those harsh conditions (thin air, intense cold, constant snow and ice, plus frequent inaccessibility). After September 11, 2001, the two countries began negotiating a ceasefire, and one was signed in 2003. This ended the frequent gunfire on the glacier (usually initiated by the Pakistanis), but efforts to negotiate a withdrawal of troops from the glacier have so far failed.

April 5, 2012: In eastern India two clashes with Maoists left six rebels and two policemen dead.

In Karachi Pakistan a suicide bomber killed three people. The attack was aimed at a police commander but missed.

Bangladesh admits that it still has Islamic terror groups operating on its territory. Bangladesh is also negotiating an extradition treaty with India, so India can take some of these terrorists who are wanted for crimes inside India.

April 4, 2012: In eastern India, Orissa State officials agreed to release 27 jailed Maoists to gain the release of a local politician and an Italian man held by the Maoists.  

April 3, 2012: In Pakistan's most northern tribal territories (Gilgit-Baltistan), more violence between Sunnis and Shia left ten dead and over 40 wounded.

April 2, 2012: The U.S. announced a $10 million bounty for the arrest or conviction of Hafiz Saeed, a Pakistani Islamic terrorist leader accused of organizing the 2008, Mumbai terror attacks. India and the United States have presented compelling evidence to implicate Saeed, but the Pakistani government refuses to prosecute. Inside Pakistan many politicians and media outlets admit that Saeed is a major Islamic terrorist leader and the man behind the Mumbai atrocities. Some of Saeed's Pakistani critics even taunt him to leave his base in Rawalpindi (a Pakistani military town) and go preach in the tribal territories. Saeed won't do that because then he would be vulnerable to an American UAV missile attack. But in the meantime Saeed dares the U.S. to come and get him. Saeed has long headed the Islamic terror group Lashkar i Taiba, which in turn was organized and long supported by the Pakistani military, mainly to organize and carry out terrorist attacks in India. Note that the reward offer is only good if Saeed is delivered alive.

April 1, 2012: Dozens of Pakistani Taliban moved from their Afghan base and attacked a Pakistani army checkpoint in Baizai, just across the border. The night battle left three soldiers and 14 Taliban dead.



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