India-Pakistan: Deal With The Devil


May 26,2008: The U.S. has made four missile attacks on the Taliban leadership in Pakistan so far this year, causing Islamic groups to get very angry and vow revenge. But against who? For the moment, the main targets are those working for the Pakistani government. These Islamic terrorists have killed over 600 Pakistanis with attacks so far this year. Some senior Pakistani generals believe that all the terrorist activity is the work of foreigners and, as one division commander put it, "no Pushtun is a terrorist." This only works if you accept pro-Taliban activities as simply another quaint Pushtun custom. Meanwhile, the Pakistani Army does consider Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud a threat. The Pushtun warlord has been isolated, by army roadblocks, in his tribal homeland headquarters. Despite that, the reduction in army activity over the last two months has led to a sharp increase in activity (from 60 attacks a week to 100) by Pakistani Taliban inside eastern Afghanistan. Pakistani military leaders either deny the activity of Pakistani Taliban in Afghanistan, or insist they are "rogue elements", and not very numerous. Meanwhile, the Pakistanis are more realistic about the Pakistani Taliban, and the violence they commit against the army and government officials. Some of this is simply tribal anger at government interference in legal, or illegal, activities by tribesmen. But the army knows it cannot tolerate the anti-government violence and expect any kind of Pakistani control in the tribal areas to survive. So the troops are fighting against those who attack government employees, but not those who just want to organize pro-Taliban attacks in Afghanistan. This means that Islamic militants are still making attacks in the tribal areas (suicide bombs and gunfire directed at troops, and the usual violence against girls schools and the like), and the army responds by hunting down these terrorists. Sometimes, these raids also take down a Taliban training center, but that's just a coincidence.

The U.S. has, in effect, paid Pakistan a bribe of over $10 billion (since September 11, 2001), in return for help in shutting down pro-terrorist activity along the Afghan border. The Pakistanis are backing away from this, and making a deal with the terrorists to eliminate terrorist attacks inside Pakistan, in return for allowing the Islamic terrorists (al Qaeda and Taliban) sanctuaries along the border. This is not a novel concept. European and Middle Eastern nations have, for decades, been making similar deals (and doing it very quietly.) The U.S. is not helpless here. Cutting off military aid will weaken Pakistan in the face of what they see as the Indian threat. Even more disturbing would be a reduction in economic aid (including access to U.S. markets) which would cause civil disorder inside Pakistan. The U.S. has been making the threats quietly, but if this goes public, it means a showdown.

May 25, 2008: In Rajasthan (northwest India), three days of civil disorder have left nearly 40 dead, and over a hundred injured. The cause is an effort by an organization representing one of the lower Hindu castes to be reclassified as one of the lowest castes, and thus become eligible for millions of dollars in government benefits. The caste system (an aspect of the Hindu religion, which separates all Hindus into four main castes, and discourages relationships with those in the lowest caste, who are often called "the untouchables") is technically illegal, but it still exists, and the government provides all sorts of aid to help the hundred million or so people in the lowest castes.

May 23, 2008: The Pakistani government signed a peace deal the pro-Taliban tribesmen in the Swat valley. This has led to an exchange of kidnap victims for jailed tribal militants and terrorists. No one really expects the Taliban to keep their side of the deal. They never have in the past.

In New Delhi, India, police arrested a member of the Harkat ul Jihad e Islami Islamic terrorists organization, and seized explosives and other bomb making material. This group comes from Bangladesh, and it appears that Islamic terror attacks this year are mainly from Bangladesh based groups, not Pakistan.

May 21, 2008: Indian Maoist rebels have stepped up their recruitment of young teenagers as fighters. It's been more difficult to get adults to volunteer, partly because increased government activity has made it more dangerous to carry a gun for the Maoists. The kids are easier to train and control.




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