India-Pakistan: Dying To Be A Peacekeeper


March 3, 2009: Pakistan has turned to the United States for help in dealing with Taliban terror tactics. The Pakistani army is trained and equipped to fight India in a conventional war. The U.S., however, has a track record (going back several centuries) of winning guerilla wars, most recently in Iraq. There, the U.S. developed tactics to deal with how Islamic terrorists used coercion to control the civilian population, to provide cover for their attacks. The U.S. advisors are training several hundred Pakistanis officers and NCOs on the tactics that worked in Iraq.

Over the past seven years, the United States has paid Pakistan $8.7 billion in military aid. Most of it was to assist in dealing with the Taliban and Islamic terrorists. But 10-20 percent appears to have been stolen or misdirected to other projects. Pakistani records are insufficient to document even that, and the scope of the theft and misuse of the money may be even greater. Pakistani officials have said they will try harder, and could they please have more money.

Pakistani police have discovered a growing network of Taliban gunmen and weapons caches in Karachi, the largest city in the country. There have long been Karachi neighborhoods filled with Pushtun and Baluchi families. Police long suspected that some of the Pushtuns would have pro-Taliban attitudes, But since the police have looked closely at this, they have discovered an organized Taliban presence, and the ability to launch large scale terror attacks.

The Pakistani army has declared victory in the six month battle for control of the border province of Bajaur. The campaign was a critical one for the Taliban and al Qaeda, which have long used the area as a staging ground for operations across the border in Afghanistan. But this time, it was the Afghans who crossed the border into Pakistan to try and save the Taliban bases. The army inflicted 3,600 casualties (over 40 percent of them fatal and half of them Afghan) on the Taliban. There were also 2200 civilian casualties (out of a population of about a million), but less than ten percent of these were fatal.  The military suffered 500 casualties, 20 percent of them fatal. Lots of artillery and air power was used, destroying over 5,000 homes and businesses (2-3 percent of the total). About 300,000 civilians fled to avoid the fighting, but about 60 percent of those have since returned.

March 2, 2009:  In Baluchistan (southwest Pakistan) a suicide bomber killed five students at an Islamic girls school. The actual target appeared to be some local Islamic leaders at the school for a ceremony.

In Lahore, Pakistan, the Sri Lankan cricket team bus was attacked by twelve armed men. Five of the Pakistani police guarding the bus were killed. Two of the Sri Lankan players were wounded by gunfire, and three others had bumps and bruises. The cricket match with the Pakistani team was cancelled. Several foreign cricket teams have refused to play in Pakistan because of the growing violence. No one took credit for this attack, but Islamic militants are believed the likely culprits.

India has begun construction of  a 40,000 ton aircraft carrier, to be called Vikrant (after Indias first carrier, a former British ship bought in 1961 and retired in 1997). The new Vikrant is to be ready for service in six years.

Indian police in Orissa state, arrested two senior Maoist leaders (Ashutosh Soren and Rajiv Yadav). The police had received a tip on where the men would be. Both men had been sought for years. Over the last week, there has been increased Maoist violence in the region, with several government buildings destroyed by armed Maoists.

March 1, 2009:  U.S. UAVs made another attack in Pakistan, killing seven people at a Taliban headquarters.

February 26, 2009: The government has gone to war with the Sharif clan, a powerful family that dominates politics in Punjab, and ran the country until the army took over in 1999. The Supreme Court has banned the two Sharif brothers, including Nawaz, who used to be prime minister, from politics. This in retaliation for not cooperating with the current government. This could lead to civil disorder, or worse, as Punjab is the most populous (with nearly half the nations population) province. The Sharif brothers lead a powerful political party, the Moslem League, and are launching more and more demonstrations and other organized protests against the government.

February 25, 2009: India has accused two Pakistani army generals of participating in the planning of last Novembers Mumbai attacks. So far, India has identified 35 Pakistanis as having been involved in setting up the attack. India has also accused Pakistani intelligence officials of regularly conferring with terrorist leaders. The large degree of support from Pakistan brings up another embarrassing (for Pakistan) angle; the lack of support from Indian Moslems. Much to the dismay of Pakistanis, Indian Moslems tend to be far more Indian than Moslem, and that has increased over the last decade, as the growth of Islamic terrorism has made it less popular to be Moslem in India, and throughout the West.

In Bangladesh, the army quickly put down a mutiny of units of the Bangladesh Rifles (a paramilitary organization of 40,000 that mainly guards the borders). Some 5-10 percent of the officers and troops mutinied, and killed over a hundred army officers and their family members. A point of contention in the Bangladesh Rifles has long been the policy of all senior officers (colonel and above) coming from the army. Thus 150 army officers dominate the Bangladesh Rifles leadership. There are also complaints that the Bangladesh Rifles work harder (border patrol is grueling and dangerous) than army personnel, for less pay. The Bangladesh Rifles were particularly upset that they were not allowed to take part in UN peacekeeping operations (where the UN pay levels  were several times what border guards normally made). The army is now searching for about a thousand Bangladesh Rifles members who were responsible for planning the rebellion, and doing most of the killing.




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