India-Pakistan: One Terrorist Sanctuary Down, Two To Go


August 14, 2014: In Pakistan a recent opinion poll revealed that only 19 percent support another period of military rule and 67 percent believe elected government is best for Pakistan. Moreover prominent Islamic leaders got negative ratings from most Pakistanis while most elected officials without religious political leanings got positive (more than 50 percent) approval. Only a third of Pakistanis believe the most recent (May) national elections were rigged while the rest thought the vote was generally fair. Yet 85 percent of Pakistanis believe more changes are needed to eliminate or at least control election fraud. These results are part of a trend, with public opinion turning firmly against the Islamic terrorists and the military that has long supported them.

The army now believes that the North Waziristan offensive (which began 61 days ago) has disrupted the ability of the Taliban and other Islamic terrorist groups to carry out terror attacks. Army intelligence experts came to this conclusion by examining documents captured and interrogations of captured terrorists, plus the fact that Islamic terrorist attacks have sharply declined since the offensive began. This comes as a big relief to the generals, who admit that the major reason for not attacking North Waziristan earlier was the fear that this would result in a surge in Islamic terrorist attacks, including more assassination attempts against generals. This did not happen and one obvious reason was that more of the Islamic terrorist activity was centered in North Waziristan than earlier believed. Soldiers captured several bomb workshops and hundreds of bombs in various stages of completion. Further technical analysis will probably link these bomb manufacturing operations to a lot of Islamic terrorist attacks in the tribal territories as well as in Afghanistan and the rest of Pakistan.

Although the Islamic terrorists in North Waziristan initially put up a fight, for the last few weeks they have concentrated on getting out of the area alive and with some of their equipment (especially laptops containing documents). Encounters with Islamic terrorists have noticeably declined in the last two weeks. Pakistani bombers and helicopter gunships are spending more time blasting terrorist bases the troops have not reached yet but appear abandoned. The army expects the operation to be over within a month or so. So far over 600 Islamic terrorists and 37 soldiers have died in the offensive. The biggest danger to troops now are all the landmines and booby traps the Islamic terrorists left behind. These must be cleared before the refugees (most of the 500,000 people living in the area) can return.

Army intel is also trying to figure out where the surviving (there are over a thousand of them, at least) Islamic terrorists will attempt to reestablish themselves. North Waziristan was unique because it was, except for the American UAVs, a real sanctuary for Islamic terrorists. Now there are only two Islamic terrorists sanctuaries left in Pakistan. One, for the Afghan Taliban, is in Quetta. This is the capital of Baluchistan and just south of the Taliban homeland in Kandahar and Helmand provinces. Quetta was always off limits to the American UAVs and remains a sanctuary because the Afghan Taliban have been very careful to keep their violence out of Pakistan. The Afghan and Pakistani Taliban don’t get along well so it is unlikely that the Pakistani Taliban or other terrorist refugees from North Waziristan will find sanctuary in Quetta.

Eastern Afghanistan is an option but it is no sanctuary. This area provides safety from the Pakistani military (except for the occasional air raid or artillery attack from Pakistan), At least the Afghan security forces are cheaper to bribe than their Pakistani counterparts. But the Afghan tribes are more hostile to Islamic terrorist groups and the Americans, despite their diminished numbers, have a free hand over there. The Pakistani Islamic terrorists already hiding out in Afghanistan report that to survive you have to behave while in Afghanistan and even then you might get his by American or Afghan special operations troops (Special Forces or commandos). These guys are worse than anything you have ever encountered in Pakistan and the American UAVs in Afghanistan can be in the air 24/7 armed and looking for you. Pakistan fear that a lot of these Islamic terrorist refugees will head for major cities (especially Karachi) where there are already millions of people from the tribal territories. Many Islamic terrorists have done the math and concluded that Karachi is safer than Afghanistan but still a lot more dangerous than North Waziristan used to be back in the Good Old Days.

India, meanwhile, points out that there is another Islamic terrorists sanctuary and it is in Pakistani controlled Kashmir. Here there have long been bases and training camps used by Islamic terrorist groups that only operate against India. Other Islamic terrorist groups have tried to set up bases here but were driven out by soldiers and Islamic terrorists who were allowed to be in the area. The Indian pleas will probably be ignored, as they have been for decades, because the terrorists in Kashmir are still popular with most Pakistanis who, like most Indians, believe their country should control all of Kashmir. This dispute has been going on since 1947 (when India and Pakistan were created from British controlled colonies.)

The U.S. was relieved to discover that the North Waziristan operation did ultimately go after the Haqqani Network. There have been no reports of Haqqani men killed and but it was obvious from American sources (satellite photos and the like) that some serious damage was done to Haqqani. Most Haqqani personnel have fled North Waziristan and all known (to the Americans) Haqqani bases there have been bombed or captured by the Pakistanis. The U.S. feared that Pakistan was just going after Islamic terrorists who attack Pakistan and not groups like the Haqqani Network that have long been seen as tools of the Pakistani military (and its military branch the ISI) and done much damage in Afghanistan. The U.S. also noted that the ISI was largely and conspicuously absent from North Waziristan operation. Apparently even the Pakistani Army doesn’t trust the ISI. But then the ISI has long been known to harbor many officers who openly support Islamic terrorist attacks against Pakistani politicians and military leaders who have been accused of being “un-Islamic.”

For decades the Haqqani Network was an Islamic terrorist organization that was tolerated in Pakistan if it confined its operations to North Waziristan and Afghanistan (where it attacked foreign troops and the Afghan government). In 2012 the UN added the Haqqani Network to its list of international terrorists. All UN members are supposed to go after international terrorists and Pakistan complied, on paper, by insisting that it was seeking to shut down the Haqqani Network. But that was not happening, as the Haqqani Network remained safe in North Waziristan and did not suffer much until the current North Waziristan operation. The U.S. feared that Haqqani would either resume operations in North Waziristan or move across the border to its old base areas in Afghanistan. Now it is unclear where Haqqani will land.

The Pakistani offensive in North Waziristan has been a big help for the polio vaccination effort, which has been a failure in most of North Waziristan because the Islamic terrorists there threatened to kill (and sometimes did) the vaccination personnel. Thus there have been no vaccinations there since 2012. Among the refugees from the North Waziristan fighting are over 200,000 children who have never been vaccinated. Some 70 percent of recent polio cases in Pakistan occurred in North Waziristan. Now the vaccination teams are able to vaccinate most of the North Waziristan children in safety.

Indian counter-terror operations in Kashmir have been increasingly successful. Yet it is still a violent place because each year Pakistan keeps sending more Islamic terrorists across the border. Most of these terrorists are Pakistanis and most of them end up dead in Kashmir. In the last three years the army has lost 49 troops to the violence in Kashmir, which is way down from what it was a decade ago.

August 12, 2014: In Pakistan (outside Karachi) police cornered three wanted Islamic terrorists and killed two of them. The third one got away. All were wanted for involvement in the June 8th Taliban attack on the country’s largest airport outside Karachi.

August 11, 2014: In Pakistan a prominent pro-Islamic radical (and anti-democracy) cleric (Tahir ul Qadri) is being prosecuted for murder because some of his supporters killed a policeman on the 9th when there was a violent clash between Qadri supporters and the police. Eight of the demonstrators died as well. Qadri had called for “action” against the government and the police and there were violent demonstrations in several areas. The government is taking a chance prosecuting Qadri, but the polls show Islamic conservatives losing popularity. This is because most Pakistanis have grown disenchanted with Islamic radicalism and Islamic terrorism in particular. Qadri was a fan of both.

In Kashmir Pakistani troops violated the 2003 ceasefire agreement again by firing on Indian troops across the LOC (Line of Control) with rifles and machine-guns. Two Indian soldiers were wounded. Indians responded with similar type weapons and it was unclear if there were casualties on the other side. This was the third such incident in the last two days. The official Pakistani Army position is that India starts these incidents by firing first but there is little evidence of that and even the Pakistani government is at a loss as to why their military continues to allow these incidents to happen. India believes this attacks was used to distract Indian border guards to assist Islamic terrorists trying to cross the LOC. Meanwhile the Pakistanis will claim that any Indian return fire was “unprovoked”, especially if any Pakistani civilians (which the Pakistani army does not seem too concerned about) are killed by the return fire (as one apparently was on the 8th.)

August 10, 2014: Afghanistan accused the Pakistani government of not attacking the Haqqani Network during the current offensive against the terrorist sanctuary in North Waziristan. Despite the Americans later admitting that Haqqani had been hit hard this time, many Afghan leaders are still doubtful. The Haqqani Network has survived for decades because of Pakistani support and bases in Pakistan that were never attacked by the Pakistanis (the American UAVs were another matter.) Haqqani is an Afghan operation (run by the Haqqani family) based in Pakistan (since the 1980s, where it has sanctuary as long as it only makes attacks in Afghanistan). Haqqani supports itself with various criminal activities. Pakistani intelligence depends on Haqqani to do its dirty work in Afghanistan and the Afghans don’t like that one. Afghanistan also claims nearly 100,000 Pakistanis have fled across the border into Khost and Paktika provinces because of the Pakistani offensive. These refugees are fleeing air raids and ground combat in North Waziristan, an area of 4,700 square kilometers, with 500,000 people. The Afghans had asked for this offensive for a long time and the Pakistanis asked the Afghans to put more troops on the border North Waziristan shares with Afghanistan to catch or kill any Islamic terrorists fleeing into Afghanistan. Unfortunately fleeing Islamic terrorists can bribe or threaten the Afghan border guards to let them pass. That often works.

In eastern India (Chhattisgarh) Maoist rebels ambushed a police patrol, killing two policemen and then fled.

August 9, 2014: In eastern India (Jharkhand) two rival Maoist groups clashed and at least 15 leftist fighters died in a pre-dawn gun battle. Villagers reported that the winner of that battle (a Maoist splinter group) removed all the bodies and weapons. But lots of blood, cartridge cases and such were left behind. This sort of violence has occurred in the area before.

August 8, 2014:  In northwest Pakistan (Upper Dir) Islamic terrorists from Afghanistan attacked the home of an anti-Taliban tribal militia leader, killing him along with two of his sons and a nephew. The army responded quickly and caught up with this Taliban death squad and killed two of them before the other fled back into Afghanistan.

In Kashmir an Indian army patrol clashed with some Islamic terrorists and killed three of them.

August 6, 2014: In Kashmir an Indian soldier getting into a boat for a patrol along a river on the LOC (Line of Control) slipped and fell into the fast running water. Before he could be rescued he was swept into Pakistani territory where he got to land. Pakistani soldiers soon took him into custody and after questioning let him return to India two days later. This sort of good behavior has been more common in the last few years despite the continued Pakistan firing across the border (apparently in support of Pakistani Army backed Islamic terrorists trying to get into India.) Elsewhere in Kashmir an Indian soldier was killed when his patrol encountered some Islamic terrorists. The soldiers continued pursuing the Islamic terrorists.

In eastern Afghanistan (Kunar) 135 rockets fired from Pakistan in the last 24 hours but that there were no casualties. A similar attack in January killed four children and there have been several other such attacks this year, the most recent one in June. In May Pakistani F-16s attacked targets in the area. The Afghan government complains to Pakistan but the attacks keep happening. That is because Pakistan accuses Afghanistan of doing nothing about the anti-Pakistan Islamic terrorists who take shelter in Afghanistan and regularly cross the border to carry out attacks in Pakistan. This time around it is all about Pakistan, which complains that there have been three attacks across the border since May 25th, causing dozens of casualties and it must stop. 

August 4, 2014: In eastern India (Chhattisgarh) police, acting on a tip, arrested three Maoist rebels they had long been seeking.

In northwest Pakistan (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) a local religious leader who preached against Islamic terrorists was apparently killed by some Islamic terrorists using a roadside bomb.

August 1, 2014: In Pakistan the army, as part of the counter-terrorism plan that accompanies the current offensive in North Waziristan took control of security in parts of the capital. The government fears that the Islamic terrorists will try to attack in the capital and this is part of an effort to foil any such attacks and provide additional protection against anti-government demonstrations being planned by Islamic radical politicians. Many Pakistanis believe this is really a prelude to another military coup. The army and the government deny this and so far there have been no signs of a coup. The government said the additional army security in the capital will remain in place at least until October.

July 31, 2014: In eastern India (Bihar) police arrested one of the Maoist rebels who had used explosives to destroy part of a rail line on the 22nd.



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