India-Pakistan: Heading For The Hungry Hills


November 24, 2009: The Pakistani Taliban have declared their voluntary withdrawal from the valleys (where most people live) in South Waziristan, and movement into the surrounding hills. The temperatures up there are slipping below zero, and there are problems getting food to a lot of armed men hiding in the highlands. Many Taliban didn't get the word, or didn't move, and these have been killed, or surrendered, in large numbers. Among the several hundred Taliban losses this week were also dozens who were arrested. The Taliban force, originally believed to include over 10,000 armed men, has lost about a third of that just to desertion. Loyalty is fleeting in the tribal territories. Many others are hunkered down in family compounds, hoping the army won't be able to identify them as one-time religious fanatics. The Taliban have lost huge qualities of weapons, ammo and other equipment (vehicles, computers, communications gear and cash). Some of this stuff, and several thousand Taliban, fled to North Waziristan and into Afghanistan. But most Taliban assets were captured or destroyed. A thousand or so of the hard core members have headed for the hills, where they will have a hard time of it. The government controls the air, and the American hunter-killer drones are still up there. The Taliban in the hills are largely without human shields, making it easier for the Predator and Reaper UAVs to fire their Hellfire missiles.

An Indian government report, which took 16 years to complete, concluded that Hindu nationalist (BJP) politicians planned the 1992 riots that destroyed a 16th-century mosque in the northern town of Ayodhya, which had been built on the ruins of an even older Hindu temple. This kicked off Hindu violence that left over 2,000 Moslems dead. Meanwhile, eastern India is seeing an increase in Maoist violence, including an attack on a rail line. The violence is still rare and scattered, but sufficient to make police and soldiers anxious when they patrolled rural areas where Maoists are active.

Indian police have been rounding up terrorist support personnel, including those who provide false documents and money transfers. This includes two arrests in Italy. The American intelligence agencies (FBI, CIA, NSA) have been assisting in this effort, much to the discomfort of Pakistan (because the people being caught often have Pakistani connections.) Meanwhile, Pakistan is trying to convince the United States that all the violence in Pakistan and Afghanistan is part of an Indian plot to destroy Pakistan.

November 23, 2009: Pakistan presented the first JF-17 jet fighter assembled in Pakistan. Over a hundred more will follow. The JF-17 is a joint China-Pakistan development effort to develop a cheaper F-16 type fighter. Most of the development was done in China, which does not plan to buy any JF-17s for its own air force.

November 20, 2009: An American UAV fired a missile at a Taliban safe house in North Waziristan, killing eight Taliban.

November 19, 2009: In Pakistan's tribal territories, a suicide bomb was set off in the largest city (Peshawar), outside the judicial compound, killing twenty people. While the Taliban in the countryside, like Waziristan, are having a hard time of it, the terror bombing cells in the Pakistani cities are holding out to intensified police pressure.

November 18, 2009: Indian police arrested 17 Hindu radicals, for attacking journalists (who had criticized the Hindu group Shiv Sena).




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